Funding for Army Corps project a go

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Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, who held a press conference in December urging the city and the corps to move forward with the plan, also praised the news. “The damage to communities on Long Beach Island during Hurricane Sandy was overwhelming,” she said in a statement, “and underscored the need for this comprehensive coastal protection project to move forward now to protect the barrier island from future storms and tidal surges.”

If the city rejects the Army Corps plan again, it could be on the hook for $70 million to $80 million to rebuild the beachfront because its losses are not covered by FEMA, because it is not an engineered beach.

City officials met with Army Corps representatives last Friday to discuss the revised project, and while they declined to discuss details of the meeting, they were described as “positive” and “encouraging.”

Before the meeting, City Manager Jack Schnirman said that the city would talk to the corps about protecting the side of the city on Reynolds Channel, and about recommendations made by the city’s independent consulting firm, Coastal Planning and Engineering Inc. Many residents have called for a plan that addresses flooding along the bay and includes a protective seawall underneath the boardwalk tied into a dune system.

Army Corps spokesman Chris Gardner said last week that a protection plan for the northern part of the barrier island, along the bay, would most likely be undertaken separately, since the project now on the table focuses only on coastal protection.

The corps is putting together a limited evaluation report to update its plan, and must deliver it to Congress before the project can begin. The corps is also reviewing the 2013 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act in order to determine how funds may be spent.

News of the project’s funding was met with praise from the Central Long Island Chapter of the Surfrider Association. “We are excited for the details of the final project to be released and eagerly await the start of the project,” association spokesman Jeremy Thornton said in a statement. “Without this funding, our coastline is hanging by a thread with each and every storm that passes through.”

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