Long Beach finally saw the return of its boardwalk last Saturday, and hundreds of runners, bicyclists and pedestrians gathered on the new span’s completed first section as city officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark its official reopening, nine months after it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
“The last time we were all up here together was just before the storm, and it was my unpleasant job to tell everyone to get out, to evacuate,” City Manager Jack Schnirman said at a press conference on Friday to announce the boardwalk’s reopening, from Long Beach Road to Magnolia Boulevard. “I’m so happy to be back here today [to say] the exact opposite — come on back.”
The city awarded a $44.2 million contract to Plainview-based Grace Industries to rebuild the 2.2-mile boardwalk, with the hope that some sections would be completed this summer, a critical time for the city’s economy.
For many residents, it was the first chance they had to walk, bike or run on the span since the storm. “It’s just amazing — the wood looks gorgeous, and it’s so nice to have it back,” said resident Allison Kallelis, who was teaching her 3-year-old daughter how to ride a bike without training wheels. “She wants no training wheels, so we’re going to give it a whirl up here later today. That will be our big moment. That’s all she was waiting for; she was waiting for the boardwalk to open to do that milestone.”
“We all grew up with this boardwalk, and it’s great to have it back,” said Michael Creaney, a resident who said he biked on the old boardwalk daily.
July 25 marked the 100th day of the boardwalk construction, by which Grace Industries was required to complete the section from Long Beach Road to Laurelton Boulevard. On Saturday morning, city officials were stationed at each boardwalk entrance between Long Beach Road and Magnolia, and simultaneously cut ribbons at all the entrances at 8:45 a.m.
“We’re thrilled,” said City Council President Scott Mandel. “This is one of the clear-cut signs that Long Beach is coming back stronger, smarter, safer. We’re very proud, and we feel that this is something that Long Beach deserves.”