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Thursday, October 2, 2014

City launches boardwalk focus groups
(Page 2 of 3)
Anthony Rifilato/Herald
Sustainable Long Island Executive Director Amy Engel led the forum.

City Manager Jack Schnirman said that the project is expected to cost approximately $25 million, and emphasized that it was too early to say when the structure will be rebuilt. The city said they are hopeful that the Federal Emergency Management Agency assumes most, if not all, of the reconstruction and mitigation costs.

At the meeting, residents were broken into groups of six or more at different tables, where they answered written questions and shared their input.

“None of us knew each other prior to sitting down,” said resident Keith Grant.

During the meeting, residents answered questions such as “Ten years from now, the boardwalk will [blank] to/for Long Beach,” and “What is the most important issue facing the future of the boardwalk?”

In a separate exercise, each group was asked to make recommendations and share their answers to questions ranging from what people did on the boardwalk last summer to three things they wish were better about the structure.

Residents’ suggestions included building a new, elevated structure that was more durable and sustainable, one that includes a retaining wall to protect the city during storms.

Some also suggested building a wider boardwalk with a smoother surface to accommodate bicyclists, runners and pedestrians. Others called for more concessions, public restrooms, lighting, security, gazebos, and amenities like restaurants and family attractions. Some suggested WiFi access to “update their Facebook status” after a day at the beach. When asked by a resident whether FEMA would pick-up the tab for those recommendations, Engel could not say, but emphasized that city officials are taking the community’s input seriously.

“It was actually kind of nice to have the community come out, it was positive,” said resident Scott Bochner, a local environmentalist and co-founder of the Sludge Stopper Task Force. “The boardwalk is the lifeblood of Long Beach but it has to be done right. It can’t be rushed; you have to have some kind of a barrier and you have to have a dune. You have to have both and we have an opportunity here to do both. We want to make sure that it’s fortified.”

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