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Between the Groins

On June 15, the New York City Council’s office of Recovery and Resiliency held a joint hearing with the Council’s committee on Parks and Recreation at City Hall.

Council chairs Mark Treyger, Chair of Recovery and Resilience, and Mark Levine, Chair of Parks and Recreation, did an awesome job! They held NYC Parks, the Mayor, and the Army Corps of Engineers quite accountable and stressed a keen sense of urgency. They reminded all those under oath that the communities that are affected, are paying very close attention.

I want to commend Councilmembers Eric Ulrich and Donovan Richards for representing their districts on the peninsula at the hearing. While Councilman Richards’ concerns are certainly substantial along the shore in the Beach 20s and 30s, he also stressed that there are large areas within Jamaica Bay’s failing bulkhead system. The erosion issues facing Councilman Ulrich’s district are by far some of the most severe erosion seen in the tri-state area, especially since Superstorm Sandy.

I’ve been at this beach stuff for quite a few years now along with my partner in crime, Eddy Pastore.

I have to say Eric’s recent testimony was, by far, some of his most passionate I’ve heard in a long, long time, and rightfully so! It was exactly what we needed, a true shot in the arm for the urgent message of beach erosion and a testament to how much the city of New York has failed us along the peninsula since Sandy.

I attended the recent Council hearing along with several members of the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association and, boy oh boy, did Councilman Ulrich let the City really have it! I had a chance to testify at the erosion hearing as well. It was hardly as colorful as Eric’s, but I tried!

Here is my testimony!

“The Army Corps of engineers (ACOE) did an valiant job after Hurricane Sandy on the Rockaway shoreline, just as it has for over 50 years. After Hurricane Sandy, ACOE placed roughly 600,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from East Rockaway Inlet onto severely eroded areas from Beach 87th Street to Beach 149th Street. A second contract to place an additional three-million cubic yards of sand on the entire Rockaway peninsula was awarded on August 14, 2013 and began after the first contract was completed.

When both contracts were completed, the Corps restored Rockaway Beach to its original size from when the project was initially constructed in the 1970s. The project provided coastal storm risk reduction to the densely populated communities and infrastructure located along the shoreline on the Rockaway peninsula. Sadly, the sand which was placed just a few short years ago, after Sandy, is already eroding at an alarming rate west of Beach 87th. There is also significant erosion on the beaches to the east, on the Beach 20s and Beach 30s.

“Dunes” were placed at the back of the beach as the City’s lone solution for “protection” and Coastal Storm Risk reduction. It should be pointed out that since there are no beach or groins, the dunes are now rapidly eroding, as well as west of Beach 86th, all the way to Riis Park!

If the current rate of sand loss is any indication, the dunes will be totally washed away by 2019 or sooner, leaving the residents and businesses west of Beach 86th Street and east of Beach 32nd, 100 percent vulnerable to wave inundation from just a simple high tide.

ACOE tells the residents and the business owners of the peninsula that dunes are “sacrificial” and the erosion of the dune is part of the design. If this is true, what is next when the dune is gone? The sacrificing of our homes and businesses? AGAIN?!?!

Dunes do work on the peninsula. But only when coupled with LARGE STONE GROINS!!

At last night’s Build it Back town hall by NY1 at the College of Staten Island, Senior Director of Climate Policy, Dan Zarrilli talked about Resilient Neighborhoods. Mr. Zarrilli specifically commented about the neighborhood of Arverne By The Sea, on the Rockaway peninsula, and how it sustained significantly less damage from flooding compared to the rest of the peninsula.

While Mr. Zarrilli’s comments about Arvene By the Sea are accurate, he failed to mention that the portion of the Rockaway peninsula east of Beach 86th sustained significantly less damage from the ocean’s wave inundation than was sustained west of Beach 86th Street. What Mr. Zarrilli neglected to point out was the fact that Arverne By the Sea is east of Beach 86th street, where LARGE STONE GROINS kept sand in place.

Part of the design for Arverne By the Sea’s success in preventing flooding during hurricanes Irene and Sandy was NYC’s requirement for Arverne By the Sea to plant a line of dunes between the development and the beach. This created the most successful protection anywhere in NYC from wave inundation on our beaches, during Hurricane Sandy.

What is significant, is how much groins do work! They kept more than 200 feet of beach in front of Arverne By The Sea in place for over two miles on the Rockaway shoreline for more than 36 years prior to Hurricane Sandy, with minimal replenishment.

A “consensus” of sea level rise is acknowledged and adopted by the City of New York. I implore the Mayor and the City Council to adopt legislation, which leads to the expeditious preparation for the impending doom that will be brought on by the rising Atlantic.

Wind farms and solar panels are great to lower carbon emissions, but they are the equivalent to crossing our fingers if we truly believe they will stop the oceans from rising. Since we do not use sand and beach grass to seal our tunnels under our rivers, obviously we should not be using sand and beach grass as exclusive protection for our neighborhoods. Hard structures should be protection of choice to protect us from higher tides.

The time to get ready is yesterday.”

Testifying in front of the NYC Council is a true exercise in our amazing democracy, but it was just a warm up for this Sunday, June 25, as we exercise our freedom of speech and WALK FOR THE SHORE!

Please join us as we bring attention to the accelerated pace of beach erosion on our shores of the peninsula. Sea level rise is real!

Let’s ask our elected officials to expedite the Army Corps plans as it would in a natural disaster zone!

There will be two locations as we “Walk For The Shore.” Please join us at 9 a.m. at the groin on Beach 87th and at 10:30 a.m. at Beach 140th on the beach. 

See everyone Sunday.

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