Reconsider, USACE

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 Dear Editor:

Projects that will make our community more resilient to storms and more accessible to the disabled are vital, but their planning must be an inclusive process with input from all those affected. The concrete path and ramps proposed by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) must be reconsidered.

It is an outrage that The Rockaway Civic Association, Belle Harbor Property Owners Association and the Neponsit Property Owners Association were excluded from the foundational steps of this process.

Our community must always move forward, but we must do it together.

I know the need for our peninsula to become further protected from future storms. However, the USACE’s proposal to place a concrete path and cross-over ramps at the foot of beach streets in Rockaway Park, Belle Harbor and Neponsit, or any project which bears such great impact on the quality of life within the affected communities, carries with it a responsibility for essential community input and approval.

I understand and respect the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and why it was written, but the USACE’s current plan is potentially dangerous, considering the design, which presents dangers of becoming a freeway for e-bikes, scooters and other issues at the entrance of beach blocks, making the plan unsafe for residents gaining access to the beach with their children, baby carriages and beach wagons.

After discussing the issue with Belle Harbor Property Owners Association President Paul King, I am confident that if the USACE works with the community groups and hears their concerns, an alternative can be found that will satisfy the needs of all parties while maintaining focus on improved safety and accessibility.

Joann Ariola
Candidate for City Council District 32

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