U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite a coastal protection project for the barrier island that has already received Congressional approval.
At a press conference in Point Lookout on Sunday, Schumer called on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Army Corps to move forward with a $150 million project that was approved by the city and Town of Hempstead last week, in what was described as the first major step toward protecting the barrier island from future storms like Hurricane Sandy.
But Schumer said that the plan could be delayed if the corps is forced to wait to begin construction until its two-year study of the East Coast is completed. Army Corps spokesman Chris Gardner said that the corps is conducting a $20 million study of the East Coast to create mitigation and resiliency strategies.
“Right now, Long Beach island is exposed to the ocean and the next major storm, so these projects should be started yesterday, not years in the future,” said Schumer. “We’ve fought for years for the resources to get this project done, and now that we have them, we shouldn’t wait a second more than absolutely necessary. I fought hard to make sure local taxpayers were not burdened with the costs of this project and now that it will be fully funded, OMB and the Army Corps must act quickly by allowing construction to begin immediately.”`
The Army Corps plan calls for a dune system nearly 16 feet above sea level that would extend from the West End of Long Beach to Point Lookout; raise the height of the beach by five feet and rehabilitate jetty groins.
Schumer said that communities like Long Beach, Point Lookout, Lido Beach and East Atlantic Beach can’t afford to have their beaches unprotected in the event of a future storm. Schumer is asking the federal agencies to “get shovels in the ground” as soon as possible and not wait until the corps completes its long-term study.