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City Hires Design Firm to Coach Boardwalk Rebuilding

City manager announces 10-step process to restore seaside walkway.

The demolition of the Long Beach boardwalk continued on Tuesday, as seen from the top of the Allegria Hotel at National Boulevard. (Credit: Karl Tepfer)
The demolition of the Long Beach boardwalk continued on Tuesday, as seen from the top of the Allegria Hotel at National Boulevard. (Credit: Karl Tepfer)

Liro Engineers will coach the City of Long Beach through the boardwalk reconstruction process, City Manager Jack Schnirman announced before the City Council voted to approve a contract with the Syosset-based engineering design firm Tuesday.

The two-mile seaside boardwalk was destroyed beyond repair during Hurricane Sandy in October, and in the fourth of 10 steps to rebuild the structure the city will pay Liro Engineers $565,307 to provide everything from design options to inspection services. The resolution for the contract also calls for public input on rebuilding, a feature that a few residents and officials championed at the council meeting at City Hall.

“People are starving for information and starving to be heard,” said Denis Kelly, a former councilman, who suggested that city officials hold public forums on boardwalk reconstruction as soon as possible.

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Other residents, such as Ray Elmer, who was recently replaced on the Long Beach Zoning Board of Appeals, insisted that a new boardwalk is inseparable from other aspects of post-Sandy rebuilding in Long Beach, including beach restoration and redevelopment of the bay front.

“We have one chance to build this right again,” Elmer said.

But both Council President Scott Mandel and Jim LaCarrubba, the city’s commissioner of public works, were emphatic that Tuesday’s resolution was strictly about retaining an engineer consultant for the boardwalk, and that boardwalk restoration is separate from other mitigation projects the city is working on.  

“This resolution is to select a firm to assist the city with the design options, the ultimate selection of the design, and to help us with specifications to reconstruct the boardwalk,” LaCarrubba said. “It has nothing to do with the Army Corps [of Engineers] project. It has nothing to do with the restoration or replenishment of sand on the beach. It is specific to the boardwalk.”  

The council voted 4-0 on the city’s contract with Liro Engineers, with Councilman Michael Fagen abstaining. Fagen expressed concerns about specific language in the resolution, namely the section that stated the firm “will be responsible for the researching and presenting of the best practice options for the design and materials of the boardwalk, as well as overseeing the eventual construction process …”

When Mandel maintained that the resolution was solely about selecting a firm to assist the city with rebuilding the boardwalk, Fagen read that section of the resolution and sought an explanation about them. The councilman said he abstained from voting because his questions about that section went unanswered.  

Echoing Fagen, resident Eileen Hession said that she interpreted the resolution in the same way that the councilman did. “The way this reads, it looks like they’re involved in every aspect of the boardwalk,” said Hession, who along with Fagen called for public hearings.

LiRo Engineers was one of five firms that bid on the consulting contract and was deemed the “most qualified” to perform the work in Long Beach, according to the resolution. The firm has worked on such projects at the rebuilding of post-9/11 lower Manhattan and the Roosevelt Island Tramway, city officials said.

The new boardwalk is expected to cost about $25 million and city officials have said that they want to rebuild it by summer. Schnirman reported Tuesday that the demolition of the boardwalk is about half completed, and he announced a 10-step process to rebuild the boardwalk, from assessment of damages, to presenting the Federal Emergency Management Agency with a plan, to opening the finished structure. Schnirman said the 10-step plan will be posted on the city’s website.

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John C January 24, 2013 at 07:19 PM
Jay, Your argument is good, and I agree with the boardwalk being 2.2 miles long by 50 or 60 ft wide. So the total sq ft is approx 626,000 sf of wooded area. My problem is in your math, if you divide $25,000,000 / 626,000 isn't it closer to $40.00 not $4/ ft. ? Also our new boardwalk will need to be ADA compliant as it relates to ramps, toilets, lighting, signage, sound systems, wiring and most importantly union Labor and Federal Govt rules for bid granting is in place in order to construct it. I have 3 questions 1. Why was the boardwalk only insured for $4 million dollars if it requires $25 to rebuild, 2. How many other city assets are under insured? 3. Why not follow the lead of some other smart peoples advice in coastal and estuary management, wtf does a group in Syosset know. The Dutch (original NY settlers) built a billion dollar airport 11 ft. BELOW sea level.....No problem. Long Beach is doomed if we don't think outside the BOX, and get our math right too! I
RhondaVW January 25, 2013 at 05:02 PM
Hi JeffR. Thanks for looking. Their high weight capacity may be overkill for the type of traffic Long Beach allows on the boardwalk but given the possibility that a sea wall might need to be incorporated into the boardwalks design and the fact that they would exceed current flood and wave codes they might be one of the few options out there to replicate the type of sturdy structure Long Beach has enjoyed all these years.
RhondaVW January 25, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Hi John C. I believe the numbers being talked about - specifically the $25 million figure - are for what it would cost to simply reuse the existing concrete substructure system and reinstall wood joists and decking. $40/sqft makes sense there given all the points you make above. The cost to completely replicate the type of concrete substructure LB had would easily be 4x that amount. LB is firtunate that the substructure survived. that said there are still some issues.....
RhondaVW January 25, 2013 at 05:46 PM
For example, pedestrian bridge codes require that any deck wider than 10' has to support a 20,000 lbs vehicle. The engineers hired to come up with a plan are going to have figure out whether the existing 1930's substructure will comply with current codes and maybe even new codes created in response to Sandy.
Elene January 30, 2013 at 10:13 AM
25 Million $ why? I cant imagine unless they are recreating this out of gold. Other communities are restoring damage with a reasonable $ amount. To my understanding, Long Beach is currently in Debt? Please correct me if I am wrong. So if they are in financial hardship, how would they begin to repay this absorbent amount of money.

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