SCHUMER, MEEKS: HARD FOUGHT FOR RESILIENCY FUNDS LANGUISHING UNSPENT BY ARMY CORPS WHILE CONSTANT EROSION THREATENS COASTAL PROTECTION OF ROCKAWAY PENINSULA; LAWMAKERS SAYS FEDS SHOULD BEGIN CONSTRUCTION ON RESILIENCY PROJECTS THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN STUDIED FOR YEARS – LIKE JETTIES, GROINS AND A SEA WALL – WHILE COMPLETING JAMAICA BAY STUDY
Schumer, Meeks Urge Army Corps to Provide Timeline for Completion of Jamaica Bay Study & Expedite Construction on Any Standalone Projects Ready to Be Built
Schumer & Meeks Say Army Corps Should Also Provide Interim Relief By Placing Sand from Local Dredging Projects on Rockaway Beach Erosion Hotspots
Lawmakers to Army Corps: Start Now on Jetties and Groins and Sea Wall That Can & Should Be Built in Rockaway and Finish the Study
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Gregory Meeks today urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction now on storm resiliency projects on the Rockaway Peninsula that have already been studied for years and have consensus support – like jetties, groins and a sea wall - while simultaneously completing the Rockaway Reformulation Study, as to not waste time on much-needed coastal protection within the community. The lawmakers secured hundreds of millions in Sandy relief funding for both the study and construction, however, more than four years have gone by and the study is not yet complete nor has construction yet begun. Schumer said that it is unacceptable that these fully-funded projects languish for so long, leaving Rockaway residents vulnerable to erosion, storm surge and flooding. Schumer and Meeks today called for 3 things: first, Schumer said that the Army Corps should provide a firm timetable for the completion of this study and construction; second, Schumer and Meeks said that the Army Corps should expedite construction on long-studied components such as jetties, groins and sea wall; lastly, Schumer and Meeks said that the Corps should provide interim relief by placing sand from local dredging projects on erosion hotspots throughout Rockaway.
“The Army Corps should begin constructing projects that had consensus long ago – projects like jetties and groins that cover the length of Rockaway - while completing its study on Jamaica Bay,” said Senator Schumer. “There’s no reason to leave Rockaway vulnerable when federal funds are available now for measures that can provide protection during future storms. I urge the Corps to release a schedule for the completion of the Jamaica Bay Rockaway Reformulation Study, and move forward with any projects that are ready-to-go. In the meantime the Army Corps must provide temporary relief through placing additional sand on erosion hotspots.”
“Sandy devastated New York City and especially my district, including the Rockaways and Nassau County. Improving resilience in New York’s coastal neighborhoods should be done with expediency, since we cannot predict how soon the next Superstorm will hit. Without further delay, we must leverage available federal and local resources to rebuild and harden New York’s infrastructure to withstand future climate events,” said Rep. Gregory W. Meeks.
“We need the protection project for the Rockaway community to begin immediately. With the start of another hurricane season the stress and anxiety grows among the residents hoping there is not a major storm. It has been more than 4 years since Sandy, plans are in place for ocean protection, there is no reason the work has not begun and the Jamaica Bay study must be completed immediately so this critical work can begin,” said Dolores Orr, Chairperson of Community Board 14.
“Rockaway has become an emergency area with expedited erosion like I’ve never seen before. We need to cut through the bureaucratic process and expedite construction of these vital protections projects now,” said John Cori, Friends of Rockaway Beach.
The federally-funded Rockaway Reformulation Study, that Schumer has 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 study dates back to a 2003 agreement with NYSDEC, it had been subjected to various delays in funding and implementation. In the Sandy Supplemental Appropriation of 2013, Senator Schumer secured full federal funding to finally complete both the Rockaway Reformulation Study and the construction of the preferred alternative.
The lawmakers today said a comprehensive study of Rockaway and Jamaica Bay is necessary, but there should be no reason to delay the standalone ocean-side and bay-side features that have already been studied for years. The lawmakers said that in order to expedite construction, the Army Corps should focus on discrete resiliency projects, such as sand replenishment, groins and jetties to retain sand, an ocean-side sea wall structure and standalone natural and hard bay-side features to further strengthen coastal protections.
A copy of their letter to the Army Corps is below:
Dear Colonel Asbery:
We write to urge the Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) to take action to address the severe and constant beach erosion along the Rockaway Peninsula that threatens the coastal protection of this vulnerable area. In 2012 Superstorm Sandy devastated the Rockaway Peninsula and we simply cannot fail to ensure it is protected from the next storm.
The Hurricane Sandy Relief Act of 2013, which we fought so hard to pass in Congress, provided the Army Corps with over $5 billion in funding to protect the region’s most vulnerable areas, including fully funding the study (“Rockaway Reformulation Study”) and construction of the Rockaway Beach coastal protection project (“East Rockaway Inlet to Rockaway Inlet”). However, more than four years later the study is not complete and construction has not started. It is simply unacceptable that a fully-funded project languish for so long, leaving Rockaway susceptible to erosion, storm surge and flooding. The Corps must provide a firm timetable for completion of the study and a construction schedule, including spelling out a specific timetable for construction of jetties, groins and a sea wall. Given the importance of this project, the Corps must expedite this schedule.
It is our understanding that the delay has been caused, in part, by the Corps integrating the Rockaway Reformation Study to combine the Atlantic Shorefront and Jamaica Bay CSRM studies. As Senator Schumer previously expressed in a letter to the Corps dated April 25, 2014, a comprehensive plan for Rockaway and Jamaica Bay is certainly necessary, but there should be no reason to delay the ocean-side and standalone bay-side features that have already been studied for years. In other words, build now what can and should be built while the Corps completes the study on the bay side and maps out other technicalities and designs. In order to expedite construction the Corps should focus on these discrete pieces such as sand replenishment, groins and jetties to retain this sand, an ocean-side sea wall structure and standalone natural and hard bay-side features. In particular we have heard from every community in Rockaway that there is a specific need for groins and jetties the entire length of the peninsula. We urge the Corps to deliver on this need; these projects should not be held up any longer by bureaucratic approvals.
Finally, we also urge the Corps to examine any and all interim resiliency measures such as emergency sand placement. In the past the Corps has placed sand dredged from nearby navigable channels such as Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay Channel on erosion hot spots along the Rockaway peninsula. The Corps must identify any nearby dredging projects that would allow emergency sand placement in Rockaway.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Gregory Meeks
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