My Concerns with the Army Corps Plan for the Rockaways

By John W. Roberts

Committee Member, Belle Harbor Property Owners Association

Kevin Boyle’s article, Defending Rockaway! Army Corps Delivers Its Plan on August 25, 2016 helped to summarize the Army Corps voluminous report. The focus is Coastal Storm Risk Management. It discusses “coastal resiliency” and “long term sustainability” as well as cost effectiveness for the Rockaways. The report is a Tentatively Selected Plan Summary along the Atlantic Ocean Shorefront Beach fill and Groin Improvements. It also includes East Rockaway Inlet to Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay enhancements.

The Ocean Front Plan calls to extend five groins and construct 13 new groins as part of the project. It ignores residents west of Beach 121 Street to Beach 149 Street. I am a lifelong resident and surfer who has witnessed beach erosion since the 1970’s along with multiple beach replenishment projects. The report suggests beach replenishment may be needed every four years. If rock jetties had been put in place years ago instead of only pumping sand, it could have enhanced and saved our beaches from storm erosion. This point was made by James O’Brien’s letter to the editor on September 8, 2016. He suggested that jetties should extend to Beach 149 Street and erosion would be lessened. It appears that residents on the West End are not being considered. Erosion has already happened with Hermine.

The Army Corps’ past efforts of pumping sand do not keep up with the elements. They have been pumping sand occasionally for the last 50 years. Jetties, pumping sand, and placements of artificial reefs along with berms would be more cost effective and offer more protection for the Rockaway Peninsula in the long run.

I suggest that residents of Rockaway download the report at: www.BelleHarbor11694.org.  Go to News tab and click on the USACE draft plan. The report runs over a thousand pages with Appendices. The first 20 pages should give you an overview of the project. Some of the report includes plans since the 1970’s. It also states in its Study Objectives that they intend to be achieved throughout the study period which is from 2020-2070!

I wonder if the government is looking to protect our coastal community or are they spending money for salaries and preliminary reports that have been generated for the last 50 years!

You may or may not agree with my assessment. If you have suggestions to enhance or improve the project do not hesitate to write Kevin Boyle at this paper. You can also get in touch with Hank Iori, President of the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association. You should consider contacting our local elected officials as well as Senators Chuck Shumer and/or Kirsten Gillibrand. The Army Corp of Engineers Project Director Daniel T. Falt can be found at Daniel.T.Falt@usace.army.mil

In order to protect our beaches there has to be a combination of sand replenishment, groins, reinforced berms and perhaps offshore reefs from old subway cars etc. which would help reduce the wave energy and reduce the pulling of sand from the beaches. This would also offer some good surfing possibilities!

Locals, don’t sit back and complain, get involved!