With the start of beach season just two weeks away, workers are busy repairing storm-ravaged sections of the boardwalk in Rockaway, according to the New York Daily News.
The damage dates back to August when Hurricane Irene blew through the Rockaways, tearing away planks of the wooden walkway and ripping apart adjacent park fencing.
The powerful storm surge pushed out fascia boards that run under the boardwalk, allowing water and sand to pour out into Shore Front Parkway.
The $3.8 million rebuilding project will continue through the start of the season, said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.
“We haven’t had anything as serious as this in the Rockaways in decades,” Lewandowski said.
Lewandowski and John Natoli, the agency’s chief engineer, inspected some of the work last Friday during a visit to a particularly hard-hit stretch from Beach 91st St. to Beach 101st St.
Parks Department workers made some emergency repairs to the area after the storm, but contracting for more extensive work was delayed due to funding issues and visits from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) inspectors.
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall put in $1.1 million and City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) is paying for another $500,000 of the contract. The balance is being paid by the city with the hopes it will be reimbursed by FEMA.
Lewandowski said the project includes reconstruction of the ramp at Beach 91st St., fascia boards from 89th to 92nd streets and sections of the boardwalk at 95th, 101st, 102nd, 107th and 108th streets.
Natoli said the fascia boards will be spaced apart in an effort to allow some water to pass through as a sort of relief valve.
But John Cori of Friends of Rockaway Beach said he is concerned that there is still no plan for sand replenishment or completion of a longer-term study to reduce beach erosion.
“We are so vulnerable,” said Cori, whose group is sponsoring a “Demand the Sand” rally on Sunday at Beach 87th St. “Officials have to come up with money to pump in some sand and get the [U.S.] Army Corps of Engineers to finish its study.”
Lewandowski said some sand will be moved to the most heavily eroded sections around Beach 101st St. to create a berm.
But she agreed that sand replenishment and the study are key to preventing future storm damage.
“That’s a big issue for us,” said Jonathan Gaska, the district manager of Community Board 14.
“It’s about safety.”