SCHUMER, GOLDFEDER: ROCKAWAY DESERVES—AND WANTS—FULL DETAILS & STATUS UPDATE ON ‘ROCKAWAY REFORMULATION STUDY’ PROJECT; LAWMAKERS URGE ARMY CORPS TO QUICKLY RELEASE THEIR DRAFT REPORT & IMMEDIATELY HOLD COMMUNITY MEETINGS
Schumer Pushed For & Secured Full Federal Funding for Long-Stalled Army Corps Study, Which Will Ultimately Determine Best Possible Coastline Defense to Protect The Rockaways and Communities Within East Rockaway Inlet, Rockaway Inlet & Jamaica Bay; Draft Report Has Yet to Be Released to the Public
Schumer, Goldfeder Urge Army Corps to Organize Public Meetings on Status & Details of Rockaway Reformulation Study; Public Forums Will Help Sandy-Impacted Families and Communities to Better Understand Project Alternatives & Provide Necessary Input to Inform the Study
Schumer, Goldfeder To ACOE: Rockaway Deserves Update, Public Meetings and Opportunity to Comment on and Improve the Plan
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, along with community leaders, urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release the draft report and immediately thereafter hold public community meetings regarding the proposed Rockaway Reformulation Study. Schumer pushed for and secured full federal funding for this much-needed resiliency project to better protect the whole Rockaway peninsula from storms and floods.
Initially, the Sandy relief bill that was signed into law required only that the feds pick up 65% of the project. Immediately after the bill’s passage, Schumer began working with the Army Corps and Office of Management and Budget to re-categorize the effort as “ongoing construction” and, therefore, eligible for full federal funding. This jump started this vitally-needed yet long-stalled plan to better protect the whole Rockaway peninsula. Despite the bill being passed into law over two years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers has not yet released the draft report publicly or held formal public meetings, the next steps in the process to start construction. Today, Schumer and Goldfeder said it is time for the feds to give Rockaway the update it deserves and one it has been patiently awaiting.
“Rockaway residents, some of whom are still feeling the devastating impact of Superstorm Sandy, deserve to see the essential details on the Rockaway Reformulation Study being planned in their community and have an opportunity to provide feedback,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “The Army Corps should release the draft plan and engage with the community ASAP. Public meetings will allow residents to voice their concerns, improve the plan and ask important questions that affect their future.”
"Communities in Rockaway and around Jamaica Bay are only as strong and resilient as the weakest link in our storm protections," said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. "The Army Corps' proposed Rockaway Reformulation Study has the potential to strengthen our shorelines and protect thousands of families from the devastation from sea level rise and storms like Sandy. With the future of our communities at stake, families deserve to see the long awaited study released, work commence and the Army Corps ensure our voices are heard at every step in the process."
The Rockaway Reformulation Study, which Schumer and Goldfeder have long supported, 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 NYCDEC, it has been subjected to various delays in funding and implementation. However in the Sandy Supplemental Appropriation of 2013, Senator Schumer secured full federal funding to complete the Reformulation study and construction of the preferred alternative. In September 2011, Schumer and Goldfeder surveyed the damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and pledged to fight for resources needed to rebuild the beaches.
Immediately after Superstorm Sandy, the Army Corps allowed for emergency sand replacement to protect Rockaway from future storm surge. The Army Corps has since completed that work placing 3.5 million cubic yards of sand in Rockaway, however, since that sand placement the Rockaways has already experienced significant erosion. The long term comprehensive coastal storm risk reduction plan for Rockaway and Jamaica Bay requires the completion of hard protective features including a sea wall, jetties and groins. Schumer and Goldfeder today said that the next step in moving forward with the long-term project is releasing the draft report and engaging with local communities during a public process
Schumer and Goldfeder today said that the Army Corps should immediately release the draft report and provide public meetings in Rockaway so that impacted residents can review the Army Corps plans and project alternatives and provide experts with necessary community input as they continue to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy.
A copy of their letter is below:
Dear Colonel Caldwell:
We write to urge the Army Corps of Engineers New York District, in coordination with their local partners, to release the draft General Reevaluation Report for the Rockaway Reformulation study. The draft report should be publicly released as soon as possible and subsequent public forums should be held by the Corps and their non-federal partners to update affected communities and solicit their feedback on the tentative selected plan.
Hurricane Sandy devastated Rockaway and the communities surrounding Jamaica Bay, all of which are represented in the Rockaway Reformulation study. Immediately after the storm we worked with the Corps closely to allow emergency sand replacement to protect Rockaway from future storm surge. The Corps quickly completed that work, placing 3.5 million cubic yards of sand in Rockaway, and we applaud your efforts. However, it has been two years since that sand placement, and already the Rockaways have experienced significant erosion.
For many years, before and after Sandy, residents of southern Queens and Rockaway, and several experts have been advocating for more permanent measures to protect their homes and communities. Your District has been working hard, navigating a very complex set of issues to ensure there is a feasible, suitable, and environmentally acceptable plan. The long term comprehensive coastal storm risk reduction plan for Rockaway and Jamaica Bay requires the completion of hard protective features including a sea wall, jetties and groins. The next step in realizing this larger and long-term project is releasing the draft report to the public and engaging with local communities during an expedited formal public process. The Corps has at various points presented progress of the project to the community and it should now be done in a way that allows formal feedback on the actual plans in the draft report. Families in southern Queens and Rockaway deserve to have ample opportunity to understand the report and provide formal feedback on the plans in the draft report. We understand the Corps plan to release the draft report shortly and we urge you do this in a timely manner that maintains the current schedule without delay and looks to expedite it where possible.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our offices.
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