“Without further delay, we must leverage available federal and local resources to rebuild and harden New York’s infrastructure to withstand future climate events,” Meeks said.
By Forum Staff
Federal legislators recently urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction now on storm resiliency projects on the Rockaway Peninsula that have already been studied for years and have consensus support – like jetties, groins and a sea wall – while simultaneously completing the Rockaway Reformulation Study, as to not waste time on much-needed coastal protection within the community.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and U.S. Rep. Greg Meeks (D-Jamaica) last week indicated that their offices have secured “hundreds of millions” in Superstorm Sandy relief funding for both the study and construction; however, more than four years have gone by and the study is not yet complete nor has construction yet begun. Schumer said that it is “unacceptable” that these fully-funded projects languish for so long, leaving Rockaway residents vulnerable to erosion, storm surge and flooding.
In a letter to Col. Thomas Asbery, commander of the USACE New York District, Schumer and Meeks said they are calling for three things: first, Schumer said that the Army Corps should provide a firm timetable for the completion of this study and construction; second, Schumer and Meeks said that the Army Corps should expedite construction on long-studied components such as jetties, groins and sea wall; lastly, Schumer and Meeks said that the Corps should provide interim relief by placing sand from local dredging projects on erosion hotspots throughout Rockaway.
“In 2012 Superstorm Sandy devastated the Rockaway Peninsula and we simply cannot fail to ensure it is protected from the next storm,” the lawmakers wrote.
“There’s no reason to leave Rockaway vulnerable when federal funds are available now for measures that can provide protection during future storms,” Schumer added. “I urge the Corps to release a schedule for the completion of the Jamaica Bay Rockaway Reformulation Study, and move forward with any projects that are ready-to-go. In the meantime the Army Corps must provide temporary relief through placing additional sand on erosion hotspots.”
According to the elected officials, the federally funded Rockaway Reformulation Study will ultimately determine the solution for long-term erosion control and coastal protection projects along the Atlantic Coast, between East Rockaway Inlet, Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay. While the study dates back to a 2003 agreement with State Department of Environmental Conservation, it had been subjected to various delays in funding and implementation. In the Sandy Supplemental Appropriation of 2013, Schumer’s Office secured full federal funding to finally complete both the Rockaway Reformulation Study and the construction of the preferred alternative.
“Sandy devastated New York City and especially my district, including the Rockaways and Nassau County. Improving resilience in New York’s coastal neighborhoods should be done with expediency, since we cannot predict how soon the next superstorm will hit,” Meeks said. “Without further delay, we must leverage available federal and local resources to rebuild and harden New York’s infrastructure to withstand future climate events.”
John Cori, of Friends of Rockaway Beach, added, “Rockaway has become an emergency area with expedited erosion like I’ve never seen before. We need to cut through the bureaucratic process and expedite construction of these vital protections projects now.”