The City of Long Beach is thrilled that the Army Corps of Engineers’ beach protection project is proceeding ahead of schedule.
This long-overdue project — decades in the making — was revived by this administration in 2012, prior to Superstorm Sandy, after previous administrations continuously failed to initiate it.
As a West End resident whose home was destroyed by Sandy, I could not be more excited, and I am extremely proud to have been part of the process every step of the way since joining the City Council. The fact that we have been able to secure the federal funds to cover 100 percent of this project’s cost makes it even better.
It certainly goes without saying that the council would like nothing more than this project to be completed as quickly as possible, and we will not stop fighting until the city has adequate protection on the beach and bayside. After decades of neglect by previous administrations, we are the ones who have championed this project and fought hard to secure the funding to pay for it. It’s a shame that some are choosing to speak half-truths on what is happening and trying to make our storm protection a political issue. Rebuilding stronger, smarter and safer is this administration’s mantra, and for critics to politicize our efforts by claiming we are standing in the way of progress is absolutely ridiculous.
Our goal has always been to keep the project moving as fast as possible by accommodating the needs of the Army Corps while minimizing the inconvenience for residents. Recently, the city objected to the corps moving to Tennessee Avenue due to the enormous impact it would have on the West End beaches, including the creation of a haul road from New York to Tennessee avenues — a 13-block stretch — to transport large stones for the project, and the loss of approximately 6,000 square feet of beach space. Several large payloaders and other construction vehicles can cause quite a bit of noise and present a potential safety hazard to beachgoers.
With all of this occurring as we head into the final weeks of the summer — the beach’s busiest time of year — we had hoped to modify the schedule to minimize the disruption. However, the Army Corps chose to disregard the city’s request and gave permission to the contractor to proceed with construction on the next two groins at Tennessee and Monroe boulevards.
The contract for this project is between the corps and the chosen vendor, and is being overseen by the New York State Department of Conservation. As such, the City of Long Beach had no ability to force any changes to this schedule. It has always been our belief that through cooperation, we could minimize beach interruption while keeping the Army Corps ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, the Army Corps has moved away from that way of thinking.
The Army Corps doesn’t have to like the position we took. They just need to understand that we will always take the side of our residents while ensuring that this project gets completed.
Anthony Eramo is vice president of the City Council.