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Councilmen: Public Input Needed to Rebuilt Boardwalk

City manager says engineering firm will be hired to assit in plans.

A demolition worker at the Long Beach boardwalk on Thursday. (Credit: Joseph Kellard)
A demolition worker at the Long Beach boardwalk on Thursday. (Credit: Joseph Kellard)
Story by Joley Welkowitz.

The Long Beach boardwalk has withstood the test of Mother Nature for many decades, but could not survive the wrath of Hurricane Sandy. And now that the city is rebuilding, decisions must be made about the materials that will make up the reconstructed boardwalk in order to make it more resilient.

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“We will do whatever it takes to get it up and running as fast as we can, but we want to make sure it is done the right way,” said Gordon Tepper, a spokesman for the City of Long Beach.

The first key step for the city is the demolition process, which started on Jan. 5 and is expected to take roughly one month to complete.

“We will put out an RFP [request for proposal] to choose an engineering firm to assist us in coming up with plans to rebuild the boardwalk smarter, stronger, safer,” City Manager Jack Schnirman said.

There is no current timetable, but there is hope that the boardwalk will be finished in time for the summer season. Schnirman explained that the city is listening to ideas presented by different firms, but has yet to make a decision.

“Once the firm is chosen, we will then put out a bid for construction, and once that bid is awarded, we will have a timeline,” he said.

“Public input would certainly have an impact on how we vote or what we would instruct the engineering firm to do,” City Councilman John McLaughlin added.

McLaughlin indicated that an online survey might be posted on the city’s website for residents to complete, which he said, “would give the engineering firm some parameters of what people prefer and will be happy with.”

However, Councilman Michael Fagen thinks such surveys will not be effective enough. “I would urge the administration to conduct public hearings so that the taxpayers have an opportunity to voice their own opinions in person,” he said. “I believe the boardwalk to be the property of the residents and they should have a say in this.”

Rebuilding the boardwalk will cost approximately $25 million. In review of previous natural disasters, FEMA usually reimburses municipalities for approximately 75 percent of the damage. New York State will use federal funds to kick in about 15 to 20 percent of the cost.

The city’s insurance company will cover a portion of the damage, but currently there is no dollar figure available. Therefore, the city may be responsible for 5 to 10 percent of the cost, which is estimated at $1.3 to $2.6 million.

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The city is calling for 100 percent reimbursement, but if it were held responsible for the remaining balance, the money will come from the City of Long Beach Relief. The money will be used to rebuild the boardwalk and repair the Recreation Center, the Youth and Family Services Center, parks and beaches.

“All of the money that is donated will be allocated by council resolution,” according to Tepper. Donations continue to flow into the City of Long Beach Relief fund and are still being accepted. On Thursday, Schnirman announced at a meeting of the Long Island Regional Planning Council, held at City Hall, that to date the city had raised more than $350,000 for the fund.

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Beachguy January 21, 2013 at 08:12 PM
Instead of wasting time arguing over why a city council did or didn't do something 6 or7 years ago why don't we focus on the present and the future? I suggest every concerned , informed citizen look at the LBSA website and see the CP&E proposal. LBSA has also developed a letter to be sent to the council and city manager about the situation. It's cosponsoring a public meeting with the recently rejuvenated WENCA at City Hall with speakers who will answer relevant questions about flood related problems. Despite all the unfounded criticism LBSA seems to be doing more than any other organization in the City . So why don't people lend their support instead of posting criticisms here.
Elliot Zuckerman January 24, 2013 at 08:54 AM
OK I have been very quite but holly crap you all got the answers and you all have your opinions on how, what and who should do this and do that, its time to wake up, NOTHING and this is only my opinion will be done to make this place any better than it was, the boardwalk will be built soon(within the next 10 years) the canals bulkheads will not be touched(did you all forget that they where raised and steel bullhead installed a few years ago? at a hight that was going to save us all from flooding, if you lived here you should remember they where all wood.This project was finished last year but of course they forgot to finish the end of the canal on the last canal, its still wood and falling apart(before the storm. Do you really think this place is going to be rebuild to a standard that will hold a surge like Sandy.You all feel that for some strange reason that life will be perfect in LB and our leaders will make sure everything is done to make everyone so happy. come on now things will be done when they are ready. We the people of LB will pay and pay thru the nose.With our taxes going up and our water/sewer bill going up 22% what would make you think we will get all these things without a cost to us. Build the right way, haha what is the right way, who is to blame surfers, bikers, runners or whom ever you want to blame, we have zero control on what will be done and when its all done, we will still complain. This place is no different than any other, mistakes will be made, blame will be thrown and not everyone will be happy but this is LB and if you lived here long enough you will know this is how its done, right ,wrong this is the way it is, but keep on blaming it makes great reading..
Eddie January 24, 2013 at 09:05 AM
If the millions in tax money and bond money were spent on infrastructure instead of the expanding hiring of political hacks, family and friends, Long Beach would be better equipped to handle flooding. Why do taxpayers continue electing these miscreants?
Hamburger January 24, 2013 at 10:32 AM
the problem is, miscreants comprise 100% of our options on election day, party affiliation notwithstanding. The system is broken and we can't keep the piggies away from the trough.
Beachguy January 24, 2013 at 07:31 PM
Elliott is depressingly right I fear. But he left out the hockey players and the secret leader and inspiration for the villainy, SNOOPY who BTW would be an improvement on the current inhabitants in City Hall. What's needed is a third party composed of independent people without any agendas except the betterment of LB and who will make the hard decisions.

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