2017-06-02 / Editorial/Opinion

Demand The Sand

At the city’s annual Beach Opening on May 27, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver touted the newly completed boardwalk.

“In New York City, summer isn’t summer without Rockaway Beach,” said Silver. “The beautiful new boardwalk is as strong and resilient as the Rockaway communities it serves – and it offers all New Yorkers more space to enjoy the sun and sand.”

The only problem with the city’s latest Rockaway dog and pony show is that none of the elected officials paraded to the podium mentioned the obvious; there’s hardly any sand left to enjoy.

Rapid sand erosion has been a problem in Rockaway for decades, if not longer. Heavy storms routinely drain the sand into the sea, leaving a withered shoreline and an expensive clean up. After Sandy, 1.5 million cubic yards of sand disappeared, the same amount of sand it would take to fill the Empire State Building.

Locals demanding the sand have been told that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ long awaited “Rockaway Reformulation Plan,” will address the evaporating shoreline, and a combination of sea jetty, rock groin, and reinforced sand dunes will slow the sand’s escape into the sea.

Well, construction isn’t even expected to begin until “late 2018.” And according to the USACE’s track record, that could mean 2019 or 2020.

The city’s press release touting the boardwalk contained the following: “The completion of the Rockaway Boardwalk complements many other resiliency measures already in place and underway, such as 4.2 million cubic yards of new sand placed on city beaches in Coney Island and the Rockaway Peninsula…”

Well, we can’t speak to Coney Island, but we’ve been told we’re not getting any sand until the USACE is ready to start work, so there’s that.

Perhaps NY1.com’s Bob Hardt, a Rockaway resident, put it best in his May 30 column, “Preservation of the beach has been a federal responsibility for years but it’s up to the city to be ringing the warning bell. And it’s up to the Congressman who represents the district, Greg Meeks, to speak up about this rather than just speak in platitudes during the ceremony.”

May 27 also marked the second year in a row that Mayor Bill de Blasio failed to show up for the beach opening. Maybe if he comes to the west end of Rockaway one of these days, we’ll be able to point out how little sand is left at the busiest section of Rockaway Beach.

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