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East Rockaway Inlet Dredging Was Included in Army Corps’ 2019 Work Plan – At Schumer’s Urging – After He Secured Additional Funding for ACOE; Schumer Lauds Joint NYC-ACOE Project, And Says He Will Keep The Heat on Army Corps to Move Forward With Broader Flood Protection Measures

Schumer: Let There Be Sand – On Rockaway Beach! Using the Sand From The East Rockaway Dredging is a Win-Win That Will Keep Open BOTH A Vital Navigation Channel & All Of Rockaway Beach

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that, following his successful push to include $7 million for the East Rockaway Inlet dredging project in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ FY2019 work plan, the Army Corps and the City of New York are moving forward with a joint plan to dredge the inlet and use the sand gathered there to replenish the eroded parts of Rockaway Beach, that were closed last season.

In a November letter to Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, Schumer called on the Army Corps to utilize the additional funding he secured in the FY2019 Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act to dredge East Rockaway Inlet. At the time, Schumer said, “Sand removal could also serve the beneficial use of sand renourishment on Rockaway Beach between Beach 91st Street and Beach 102nd Street, which is critical to ensure the safety and commerce of this heavily-trafficked area during the 2019 summer beach season."

Regarding the current development, Schumer said, “Let there be sand – on Rockaway Beach! Using the sand from the East Rockaway dredging is a win-win that will keep open BOTH a vital navigation channel & all of Rockaway Beach. I fought hard to secure the extra money Army Corps needed to dredge the inlet, and it makes perfect sense to use that sand to shore up the most eroded parts of Rockaway Beach that had to be closed last season. Kudos to Mayor de Blasio and the Army Corps for working together in a way that provides a critical positive fix for this situation. No one wanted to have another partial beach shutdown again this summer.

“While this is great news for the upcoming beach season, I will continue urging the Army Corps to hurry up with their broader erosion and storm protection measures – like groins, jetties and dunes – which will protect beachgoers, businesses, schools and homeowners alike in Rockaway and Jamaica Bay for generations.”

Last year, a popular stretch of Rockaway Beach between Beach 91st Street and Beach 102nd Street was closed due to lack of space to operate the beach safely, which was caused by beach erosion. The beach closure caught both beachgoers and business owners off-guard, prompting Schumer to immediately send two letters to Army Corps Col. Thomas Asbery requesting a “comprehensive list of emergency options that the Army Corps New York District could undertake to renourish the affected areas with sand as soon as possible” and “hard deadlines for the construction of permanent beach protections.” Following those letters, Sen. Schumer worked with local stakeholders at the city, state, and federal level to search for a solution to re-open Beach 91st Street to Beach 102nd Street for next summer.

The channel was last dredged by the Army Corps for maintenance in FY2017, when approximately 250,000 cubic yards of sand was removed and beneficially used to renourish Rockaway Beach (between Beach 27th Street and Beach 38th Street). Prior to that, in 2014, the Army Corps deposited about 3.5 million cubic yards of sand along the beachfront. As the Army Corps started drafting their FY2019 Work Plan, Schumer wrote a letter outlining his priorities for the entire state, of which the East Rockaway Inlet was first and foremost. Shortly after sending his letter, Army Corps announced that the dredging project would receive $7 million in funding.

Schumer’s push to renourish Rockaway Beach is part of his larger efforts to fund and expedite the Rockaway Reformulation Study, which will ultimately determine the solution for long-term erosion control and coastal protection projects along the Atlantic Coast between East Rockaway Inlet, Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay. While the reformulation study dates back to a 2003 agreement with NYSDEC, it has been subjected to various delays in funding and implementation. However, in the Sandy Supplemental Appropriation of 2013, Schumer secured full federal funding to complete the reformulation study and construction of the preferred alternative. Initially, the Sandy relief bill that was signed into law required only that the feds pick up 65 percent, but Schumer began working with the Army Corps and NYC Office of Management and Budget immediately after the bill’s passage to re-categorize the effort as “ongoing construction,” making it eligible for full federal funding. This jump-started this vitally-needed – yet long-stalled – plan to better protect the whole Rockaway Peninsula and Jamaica Bay.

Last  February, Schumer announced that he secured $730 million in federal funding for the construction of Sandy-related Army Corps projects, including the Rockaway Reformulation Study. The $730 million in funding was previously trapped in limbo, unable to fund the construction of critical mitigation work throughout New York. Schumer successfully transferred these funds through a mechanism in the 2018 budget caps deal, unlocking hundreds of millions to be used towards the construction of desperately-needed coastline protection projects in New York.

Following this significant boost in funding, Schumer met personally with Colonel Asbery and successfully urged – together with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio – that the Army Corps expedite the Rockaway Reformulation Study’s timeline so that construction agreements for the Atlantic Shorefront and Jamaica Back Bay could be issued in 2019. Schumer and de Blasio have continued to push the Army Corps to stay true to this expedited timeline.