Rockaway Beach Councilwoman Joann Ariola calls on the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to ‘backtrack’ on a plan to keep beaches open as it continues its project to build needed coastal resilience this summer.
Ariola made his accusation after NYC Parks and USACE released a joint statement on Tuesday about their summer 2022 operational plan that prohibits beachgoers from Beach 92nd Street at Beach 95th Street and Beach 109th Street. at Beach 111th Street from Memorial Day weekend through July 15. 112th Street Beach will be closed between July and September.
USAC implemented a $336 million infrastructure project consisting of a reinforced dune system designed to block storm surges and new extended conical groynes, pier-like structures extending into the l designed to trap sand and reduce beach erosion and help maintain a critical buffer between the Atlantic Ocean and seaside communities.
“The critical resilience work being done in the Rockaways will protect local residents in the surrounding community from the increasing impacts of the severe storms we experience in New York: it will slow erosion caused by climate change and ultimately expand the beach access for decades to come,” the joint statement read. “The impact of the work the Corps has already done in the Beach 30s is a great example of how successful these groynes are in keeping the sand in place. square. It allowed us to bring swimming back to an area that hasn’t been open in years.
Ariola agrees groin construction work is crucial to mitigating coastal erosion, but accused USACE of ‘going back on old statements’ and supporting NYC Parks’ plan to ban swimming along large stretches of Rockaway Beach.
“After weeks of playing the blame game, I am not surprised that these government agencies have agreed to a decision that does not support our residents, our business owners, our tourists or our economy,” said Ariola said. “We’ve worked hard to make sure the Parks Department will suspend rent collection for Memorial Day Parkway concessionaires until July, but it’s still not enough.”
The operational map of Rockaway Beach, which can be found on a NYC Parks dedicated webpageclearly states that “all beach concessions will remain open for the summer at the discretion of the concessionaire”.
NYC Parks and the USACE also say that more than 60 beach blocks will remain open to visitors seven days a week beginning Memorial Day weekend and will remain open throughout the summer.
“We look forward to millions of New Yorkers flocking to these beaches this summer to enjoy the sun, sand and great food that Rockaway has to offer,” the agencies said.
Ariola was not appeased by the joint statement.
“We will continue to push for full beach access this summer and closely monitor the project schedule to ensure engineers meet the July 15 construction deadline so that Rockaway’s shoreline can continue to serve as a attraction for all New Yorkers during the warmer months of the year,” Ariola said. “Being able to cool off in the water is the biggest draw for many beachgoers, and banning it will undoubtedly hurt businesses that depend on tourists’ money to support themselves.”