With Memorial Day exactly 3 weeks away, residents and visitors to Rockaway Beach may be in for a surprise. In many areas along the coastline, there is little to no beach left. Some shocking pictures were shared by a Facebook user to the Friends of Rockaway Beach Group. One of the photos, shown above shows the water washing over the new wooden ramps. The issue is particularly problematic at high tides, where in many areas the water comes all the way to the dunes or ramps. Although the entire shoreline is at risk, particular areas of concern are Beaches 90th – 95th Streets, and Beaches 141st to 149th Streets. Winter storms and seasonal erosion have depleted most of the sand that was pumped in after superstorm Sandy.
It should be noted that the dunes now extend some 30-50 feet taking up areas where people could access and sit on the beach. In many areas of the shoreline, large sections of the dunes have already been washed away. The Army Corps of Engineers released their preliminary plans for replenishing and protecting the Rockaway coastline last August. Since then there’s been a few public meetings but it doesn’t seem that any actual progress has been made. The local civic groups such as the Neponsit Homeowners Association, Belle Harbor Property Owners Association, Rockaway Civic Association, and Rockaway Beach Civic Association have been concerned with the condition of our beaches and the lack of progress on the USACE’s plans. The plans called for routine replenishment, reinforced dunes, rock jetties, and other protective measures. Some critics argue that the plans don’t go far enough. The beaches in Riis Park are also in bad shape. The area in front of the bath house is of particular concern where the water touches the concrete boardwalk nearly every high tide. Anyone who has been in the area can see the tractor moving sand back towards the shoreline everyday.
Regardless what the USACE eventually decides to do, something must be done immediately. If more sand isn’t pumped in, the dunes will continue to be washed away, the brand new boardwalk ramps will be damaged more, and the beach will continue to deteriorate.
Concerns residents and visitors can contact their elected officials, as well as Senators Chuck Shumer and/or Kirsten Gillibrand. The Army Corp of Engineers Project Director Daniel T. Falt can be found at Daniel.T.Falt@usace.army.mil