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Schumer, Goldfeder Urge Feds to Provide Protective Sand Replacement at Rockaway’s Riis Park & Fort Tilden

LongIsland.com

Schumer, Goldfeder: Shorefront Protection is Only as Strong as Its Weakest Link

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Washington, DC - March 18, 2014 - U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder today called on the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Army Corps of Engineers to provide protective sand placement at Riis Park and Fort Tilden. The Army Corps is currently replacing sand lost between Beach 19th and Beach 149th streets, however, a major gap in protection remains at Riis Park and Fort Tilden.  
 
“This weak link leaves surrounding residential areas of Neponsit, Belle Harbor, Roxbury and Breezy Point vulnerable during the next storm,” said the representatives. 
 
Because Riis Park and Fort Tilden are maintained by DOI, Schumer and Goldfeder are today urging these federal agencies to incorporate these areas in a comprehensive sand protection system for the Rockaway Peninsula.
 
“Riis Park and Fort Tilden are the missing pieces in our effort to protect the entire Rockaway peninsula in the event of a future storm,” said Schumer. “The Department of Interior and the Army Corps should implement the same sand placement for these areas as the rest of Rockaway so that they are not left vulnerable if another Superstorm Sandy come our way.” 
 
"Our first priority must be barriers and flood protection across the entire peninsula to make sure our community is stronger and more resilient for the future," said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway). "Rockaway is only as strong as our weakest beach. I urge the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of the Interior to place sand at Riis Park and Fort Tilden and provide our families with the peace of mind they deserve.  I commend Senator Schumer for making the safety of our families a top priority and for his continuous advocacy on behalf of all our families."  
 
The Army Corps has already provided 3.5 million cubic yards of sand to New York City Parks’ beaches in the Rockaways and is in the process of building a dune and sand replacement between Beach 19th and Beach 149th streets; no plan for protective sand placement exists for Riis Beach or Fort Tilden. 
 
A copy of their letter is below:
Dear Secretary Jewel and Lieutenant General Bostick:
 
I write to urge the Department of the Interior (“DOI”) and the Army Corps of Engineers (“Army Corps”) to provide protective sand placement at Riis Park and Fort Tilden, part of NPS Gateway National Recreation Area.  The Army Corps, over the course of twelve months, will have provided an additional 3.5 million cubic yards of sand to the New York City Parks beaches in the Rockaways.  The Breezy Point Cooperative will also have placed sand at the western tip of the Rockaways.  This sand placement will provide a much need protective barrier for residents of the Rockaways and help protect them from the next storm.  However, a major gap in protection will remain at Riis Park and Fort Tilden if DOI and the Army Corps do not act.
 
The entire Rockaways faced massive erosion after Sandy hit, making this area particularly vulnerable to future storms. The Army Corps is currently building a dune and replacing sand lost between Beach 19th and Beach 149th Streets to provide storm protection for residents of the Rockaways.  To date 600,000 of the total 3.5 million cubic yards of sand has already been placed.  However no plan for protective sand placement exists for Riis Beach or Fort Tilden.  Riis alone lost around 200 cubic yards of sand during Sandy.  This leaves a massive vulnerability for homeowners during the next storm.   Shorefront protection is only as strong as its weakest link.  Right now Riis Beach and Fort Tilden are that weak link and Rockaway residents deserve better.
 
I ask that you explore replicating the work the Army Corps is planning on City Beaches.  A storm berm that provides the same level of protection that the Corps is building for Rockaway should be constructed on the National Park Service beaches of Riis and Fort Tilden.  The Army Corps’ design should also be as wide a beach berm as is possible for the NPS beaches taking into account the parameters of each beach such as the at-grade promenade at Riis.  Matching the design of the storm berm which the Army Corps has designed and is constructing for the NYC Parks beaches at the Rockaway portion of the peninsula would afford the most protection to the entire community on the peninsula.
 
The Army Corps has an existing contract for the sandy placement at NYC Parks Beaches, which should be completed by August.  This contract allows an efficient and timely vehicle to add the needed Riis and Tilden work and the National Park Service and DOI have sufficient funding from the Sandy supplemental to cover the cost of this work.
 
Thank you for your attention to this matter. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.
 
Sincerely,
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder