Long Beach Boardwalk Meeting Puts Public Input Step to Rest

Sustainable Long Island unveils findings from community meetings and online surveys.

A meeting on the future of the boardwalk was held at City Hall on Wednesday. (Credit Joseph Kellard)
A meeting on the future of the boardwalk was held at City Hall on Wednesday. (Credit Joseph Kellard)

Their input came in all shapes, sizes and suggestions.

Among the Long Beach residents called to speak at Wednesday’s meeting at City Hall on rebuilding the Hurricane Sandy-damaged boardwalk, some said the new structure should remain true to its name and be built of wood, while others want a concrete center lane that will withstand heavy fire equipment.

Some said food carts should be featured at the many vacant lots that abut the boardwalk, as others expressed hope that the Deco Bike and exercise stations will be restored. And there were those who asked that teenagers be asked for their input on the project, while a few called for constructing a taller boardwalk with retaining walls.

Residents voiced these and other opinions after Amy Engel, director of Sustainable Long Island, gave a slide presentation on the findings of the public input the Farmingdale-based non-profit organization helped gather for the city. More than 2,320 residents and business owners took the online surveys and some 250 of them participated in four group meetings in the weeks leading up to the Feb. 20 meeting. All gave input on boardwalk reconstruction.

Of those who took the online surveys, most were between the ages of 35 to 44, and 51 percent were private homeowners. They were asked to respond to 16 questions about boardwalk-related values, and that which ranked as their top priority was its durability and resistance to future storms.

“And this was completely consistent with every focus group and with every person that came up to me after,” Engel said.

Other priorities included protection of the environment, public safety and quality of life, and safety and comfort for runners, cyclists and walkers, all of which suggest the type of material to be used. The majority of respondents said they want the boardwalk made of a wood-cement combination, above either of those materials separately, or a recycled hard plastic.  

About the most prevalent comments on economic development opportunities, Engel said: “And a lot of people want concessions back.”

In addition to 95 percent of respondents citing the boardwalk as a place where they exercise, many also said they like to go there to see people they haven’t seen for months, especially on a warm winter day, Engel said.   

Beach Protection and Army Corps Project

A number of residents who spoke at Wednesday’s meeting underscored the importance of protective measures as part of the boardwalk rebuilding process, from constructing retaining walls to rebuilding the jetties.

John Bendo, president of West End Neighbors Civic Association, said many residents believe the top priority now ought to be to protect people and property. He warned that after the new boardwalk is built, a future beach-rebuilding project could mandate a protective sand dune built along the boardwalk that would be higher than it.

“That’s a problem,” Bendo said. “You can’t de-couple one from the other. You have to take into account that down the line there’s going to be a beach protection plan that needs to be incorporated with the boardwalk design now.”

West Penn Street resident Sheldon Simon said the city needs to coordinate the boardwalk project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that proposed a beach-rebuilding project the City Council rejected in 2006 but that the current administration is working to resurrect.   

“There’s no reason why we cannot consult the Army Corps and say, ‘this is our design, what do you think?’ Do you have any recommendations,’” said Simon, who acknowledged that the two projects would be done different times.

Earlier in the meeting, City Manager Jack Schnirman recognized that the Army Corps project is very important for the city. “But it’s important for us to remember, especially tonight as we’re focusing on the boardwalk, that that’s a separate entity, and how we address the beach going forward is a separate project,” he said.

He noted that the Army Corps project has a much longer time horizon. “That’s a three to five year project, and we’re obviously looking for our boardwalk significantly sooner than that.”

Moreover, Engel’s slide presentation showed that the survey comments revealed an emphasis on the need for a short-term protective barrier incorporated into the boardwalk project, reading: “Safety and storm protection, especially incorporating a sea wall as part of the rebuilding of the boardwalk.”

Alternative Sources of Funding

A few residents addressed alternative forms of funding for the new boardwalk, a project that is estimated to cost $25 million, in addition to the amount the Federal Emergency Management Association is expected to provide the city.
One resident noted that, since many people exercise on the boardwalk, than a company such as Nike could be a potential sponsor.

Marvin Weiss, a Canals resident, suggested a buy-a-board project, if the city decided to rebuild with an ipe wood material. “If a piece of ipe wood costs $6 or whatever, I might raise my hand and say, ‘Okay, I’ll buy 100 boards,” Weiss said. “Maybe someone else will be 50 or one. Whatever it is, maybe there are enough people in this community that would gladly chip in dollars as well as time to do anything they can to help out with this situation.”

Another resident, Corey Zimmerman suggested that perhaps the city could find individuals or companies who can sponsor sections of the boardwalk to help fund the long-term upkeep of the new structure.  

“There could be a subtle sign, and it doesn’t even have to be that noticeable or garish, on a quarter-mile or block section that says, ‘sponsored by this person,’ and that person would have contributed a significant sum of money to have his or her name or company name on that piece,’” Zimmerman suggested.

What’s Next?

The community input meetings and surveys represent step five of a 10-step plan that city officials devised to rebuild the boardwalk, possibly by the start of summer. Schnirman said all the public input would be submitted to Liro Engineers, the engineering firm from Syosset that the city hired in January to help redesign the new boardwalk, as the next step in the plan. “They will now use that to assist them in reviewing best practices and generating operations and doing it quickly,” he said.

Once the materials and preliminary designs for rebuilding are finalized, the city will present them to FEMA and talks will commence with the agency about mitigation measures.

“[FEMA has] to approve what we all collectively are asking of them, which is to help us to rebuild our boardwalk stronger,” Schnirman said.

City officials said that the bid to rebuild the boardwalk will be advertised on the city website and in local newspapers, as well as other mediums for promotion. “Ultimately a bid will be awarded for construction and we’ll have a construction timeline,” Schnirman said.

Both Schnirman and Engel encouraged residents to visit the website Long Beach Listens to keep updated on the project.

But what if the boardwalk isn’t rebuilt this year? Billy Kupferman, president of Long Beach Surfers Association, encouraged residents to think about that prospect and find ways to still get people to visit boardwalk-less Long Beach this summer.

“If there were surf contests and volleyball games and concerts and things, we might be able to get by without a boardwalk for one summer, or work our way towards it and still take care of our community,” he said. 
delete me February 22, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Eddie, "The seven mile boardwalk in Rockaway is almost completely rebuilt, thanks to the City of New York, while knuckleheads in Long Beach fight about the environment, feelings of wood, rain forests and focus groups." The Rockaway boardwalk is nowhere near finished and they are facing issues far more pressing than ours.
Richard "Keith" Stevens (Panama) February 22, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Let's see, rather than going this alone and thinking that we alone have the right resources to arrive at the best way to do this boardwalk rebuild, why not approach other cities and municipalities where similar situations have occurred and find out from them what went right and what went wrong. Learn from their mistakes and successes. Learning from others mistakes is often the best way and imitating others successes always helps...!!
Tonto Hertzberg February 22, 2013 at 09:38 PM
I am petitioning the SurfRider Foundation to once again kill the Army Corp Plan like they did in 2006! In addition, I hope they block the building of a new boardwalk altogether. There is no reason why we can not surf right up Long Beach Road and into the WalGreens parking lot if that damn boardwalk is not in the way!
Jack February 22, 2013 at 09:59 PM
SLI is a quasi Marxist organization. They want everyone to give up their cars, move back to major cities to live in Stalinist style housing blocks, and give back suurban lands to nature. So their presence at the meeting is one of an enemy agent, The boardwalk must be built higher to clear the future sand dunes.
Tonto Hertzberg February 22, 2013 at 11:06 PM
Jack: You are SO right. I was at that meeting and right away knew something was up when the moderator introduced herself as Kate Trotsky. I am also told that several people that objected to the City plan were removed to a Gulag set up in City garage in back of the movie house. i am also told that the new boardwalk will be named Vladimir Putin Way.
Elliot Zuckerman February 23, 2013 at 06:56 AM
First Tonto you are to funny surfing to Walgreens..lol... (ride thru)it does seem we all have the answers and most of feel the same, the answer, well I do not know, I love the boardwalk and love the beach and as crazy as it sounds, I love Long Beach.My opinion is simple, slow down, rethink and rebuild. Hell how long has the old boardwalk been here, we will face another storm here , when I am not sure but rest assured, we will get flooded again, will rebuild again and no matter what we do, we will not be able to stop it, when mother nature wants to clean up our cities she will no matter what we do.So just bring the elephants back and build a new boardwalk, stop the bickering and just rebuild it, wood, cement, plastic does not matter, there will alway be someone to complain. Our leaders are in the same boat, they only want to rebuild and there is no expert that will say build it this way and you will never have a problem again. Why is it so hard to know when the next one hits, the same damage will occur, can we slow it down? can we stop it from bringing our city to its knees, the answer is simple NO, unless we build a wall 50 feet around our city, we will get hit again, so just build the damn thing so we can all get on with our lives, but them agin I am sure many of you have the answers.Me well I can still run on the beach, ride my bike in the street and see all my good friends at Starbucks.. Have a nice weekend all and remember this, you have no say on what will be done so sit back, relax and smile as all the new stuff around us gets rebuild. Panama looking forward to seeing you on the new boardwalk in a few years. My real name
elliot February 23, 2013 at 08:28 AM
All U Need to do is look at the Rockaway Boardwalk a combination of special concret & wood and go there your self just a few miles west over the bridge and U will see that the concrete remains intact and the wood sections destroyed... As to concessions a great isdea but only give 2 year contracts to keep up the quality. we should have a section where we can sit ...have coffee & enjoy Long Beach. As to after hour swimming we should have one street where people can swim till 9PM or til sunset. where there will be a life guard on that beach. There should be a section for the Volleyball people where the light s are lit up on the boardwalk & the beach no big deal 2 sides of the pole lights. They should start on this right away as it is depressing for all the residents to viwe a naked boardwalk with no hope in sight.
delete me February 23, 2013 at 08:34 AM
Elliot I have thought about the 50' (or even 15') wall and what the long term affects would be. I am thinking it could turn the city into a bathtub, more or less. Like, storm rain and drainage issues. I imagine the exterior of the wall would face severe erosion over time on the beach side as seawalls have that effect. When I think of a wall about 10' or maybe even 6' I wonder if the effects would be similar with drainage issues from not only the storm rain from the inside but the storm water that a surge would push over. Early Saturday morning, first cup of coffee thoughts.
Hamburger February 23, 2013 at 08:48 AM
Water drains to bay
Me February 23, 2013 at 09:19 AM
Water comes from bay too!
RhondaVW February 23, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Awesome, IMO for all the drainage / bathtub points a foolproof seawall would be impractically expensive. But a simple bulkhead type seawall along the boardwalk.......................http://tinyurl.com/boardwalkseawall.............would stop lesser flood damage and the destructive storm surge of Sandy grade storms. Again IMHO it would be a cheap 2nd line of defense after whatever dune/beach defenses are completed.
John Bendo February 23, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Take a look at what they did in Galveston, Texas. It is a good example of providing both protection to people and property while still providing a waterfront playground. http://www.galveston.com/seawallcam/
elliot February 23, 2013 at 03:21 PM
No wall keep the same height...all the concrete foundations...all of them are perfect ...intact....water SHMATER :) they are still up. alive and well...as to the wood it always need replacement...overtime work on Sunday & all of us has had nail problems sticking out or lacking.......if we need a sample go to Rockaway you cam see it from beach 9th till 32 & on
paul.d.spellman February 23, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Seawalls? Bulkheads? We do not need any of that. We have Christmas trees!
Pat Caltabiano February 23, 2013 at 05:34 PM
whether there is a buy a board or not board one thing is for sure it will affect us all one way or another. We the taxpayers should protect our great city of Long Beach from future disasters like this but if they don't make a decision soon, we are all vulnerable again. Take a page from Atlantic beach which seemed no to be devasated as Long Bach. We need the boardwalk to draw in summer vistiors & enjoy our beach and spend money to be here! It will be a good start to rebuild. Michigan ST
Elliot Zuckerman February 24, 2013 at 06:29 AM
Holly cow I got it, a hydraulic lift under our city, when the floods come again all we need to do is push a button and presto we raise 30 feet, when the storm is over hit another button and bam right back to sea level.Or we can put the plastic(recycled of course) bubble over long beach, again when the big one hits there is that damn button again, press it and it will cover us ,thus protecting us from any damage or better still and this one is a classic ,we can install new wind mills every ten feet facing the ocean and the bays again when the big one hit there is that button agin just hit it and blow the water back into the ocean, hummmm we can even use it for power just like the one in Point Lookout next to the parkway, hey wait did I just stumble on something, is that why lido and Point Lookout got saved... And to think Long Beach hired a firm to come up with a plan. As for that damn boardwalk how about making it out of that new stuff recycled posts that are on the Patch, just think with all the hot air being blown here we can run, ride ,meet our friends for coffee and yes even encourage all the tourists to come and see how great we are by making a boardwalk out of hot air we can simply float on, no more flat tires on out bike, very soft for running and even the surfers will be able to ride our boards on it, air surfing,the PD can ride on it without damaging it and our elected officials will again walk with pride knowing they did the right thing. AIR BOARDWALK. OK before all of you start with all the B.S I am only kidding, its sunday and like everything its a day to give your mouths a rest, smile and enjoy the day tomorrow we can start to bash again. :)
Pat Caltabiano February 24, 2013 at 11:06 AM
Jacob Wong your an idiot and don't deserve to surf in our pristine waters. If you respected the town, the beach, the surf and lived here you wouldn't take and take and take and try to be compassionate to the town and Ocean that gives you pleasure. Its people like you that we should charge to use our Ocean. Be real dude if you lived here you would get it. But you don't. Do us a favor and go somewhere else to be a user.
Elliot Zuckerman February 24, 2013 at 11:07 AM
Jacob, I think you are one selfish SOB. its people like you that we wish you head East like Gilgo or Rockaway, odds are you even throw your trash on our streets and take off on anyone you want, if you do not like it here keep the hell out and please stop bringing all your friends here who also do not care about anything but them selfs..And since you are so smart and know so much Long Beach is a city..
Hamburger February 24, 2013 at 11:23 AM
He's just trying to incite, everybody chill
Richard "Keith" Stevens (Panama) February 24, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Hello EZ, my brotha from anotha motha....!!!! It's been awhile since we've seen each other and it always feels like too long. we'll have to get together and hang one of these days..!! For everyone else though I just want to reiterate a truth and this in in caps for emphasis. THERE IS NOTHING THAT WE CAN DO OR BUILD THAT WILL PROTECT OUR BELOVED CITY FROM ANOTHER STORM. SANDY WASN'T EVEN A WORST CASE SCENARIO, ALTHOUGH MANY SHOULD RIGHTFULLY FEEL LIKE IT WAS FOR THEIR INDIVIDUAL SITUATIONS. I REPEAT..... NOTHING...... CAN BE DONE, ALTHOUGH IF YOU THINK THAT YOU HAVE SOLUTIONS THEN BY ALL MEANS BRING EM ON..!!!
Hamburger February 24, 2013 at 04:03 PM
Not entirely true. We can build a better dune system and/or some type of berm or sea wall - this would help protect against the storm surge that came right through unhindered. Sure, flooding from the bay will always occur, and technically houses can be raised (though this is hardly affordable to most), but in the end the water will go back out with the tide (I.e. we are not in a bathtub with or without a sea wall)
Richard "Keith" Stevens (Panama) February 24, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Of course you can spend all sorts of $$$$$ in feeble attempts to mitigate in some small ways. Basically, just throwing money into the wind. A bigger dune system will only mean more sand in peoples living rooms. It's VERY, VERY foolish to think that ANYTHING will help us when a Cat 5 storm is spinning off of our coast line 100 miles south of us for ten hours straight. Just have an alternate plan,as to where you'll go, think about what you need to take with you when you need to go with short notice, and realize that in a worst case scenario you in all likely hood WON"T be coming back for a good long while. Just get somewhere safe as it's lives first and property second. I hate to sound so pessimistic but if we don't learn from history lessons then we're bound to repeat our mistakes. When lives are at stake sometimes you don't get a second chance.
Hamburger February 24, 2013 at 04:37 PM
All bets are off with a Cat 5 regardless. Mr. Gorbachev, put up that wall.
Jack February 24, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Be aware: they are environmental Marxists attempting to impose Marxist/ socialist ideals by way of environmental engineering (central planning) and enacting affordable housing planning. They believe that White people fled the cities to the suburbs and left the poor colored people to fend for themselves in urban decay. (Completely ignoring that minorities destroyed the cities with their welfare attitudes) Their ultimat goal is to build stalinist housing blocks and force suburbanites into substandard housing so that no one gets an advantage.
JP Ashcroft February 25, 2013 at 01:24 AM
Sea walls can speed up erosion and are not the cure all. A deeply fortified dune system works best. Just look at the dunes in Ldo, they held up quite well and had minimal damage to them. We need to build our dunes bigger and stronger and not to just throw sand in a heap.
Elliot Zuckerman February 25, 2013 at 06:48 AM
Well to all my friends, today there is a press conference with all the photo op leaders that will now fight for money to rebuild the boardwalk, as I read the story they are going to ask for money quickly and rebuild with material that will withstand a super storm like sandy. I would love to see this money and the new boardwalk happen very soon but I have my doubts will this happen? being I have so much faith in our system , lets sits back and see just how much power they do have. As negative as we are here maybe, just maybe we will have our boardwalk back within the next 6 months.I will be the first to stand up and give a big thank you. bets anyone on a time line?
RhondaVW February 25, 2013 at 06:05 PM
Hi JP. Fixed structures like seawalls can only speed up erosion where they are in the path of the water flow. A simple seawall would be a cheap 2nd line of defense behind a dune system designed to stop whatever storm surge gets past the dunes. The problem with dunes alone is that as you can see they are not built overnight and it would be very possible that LB might lose dunes in one storm and be hit by another before the dunes could be rebuilt. Plus it would keep tourist from sneaking onto the beach without a pass. :)
Me February 26, 2013 at 09:34 AM
I am no hydrologist or coastal scientist but it just seems to me that we could easily put some kind of a seawall hidden inside the dunes and under the boardwalk as a backup. How hard could it really be to just put in a wall of sheet pile, be it steel or composite, and cover it up with the dunes? It is a backup plan that is all. I realize there are issues with this idea regarding vehicle access to beach, would it cover the whole island, Etc. and it will do nothing to stop water from the bay, but as has been stated here before by many people just piling up sand isn’t going to do it in the future.
Stephen February 27, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Great to see the input and theme of hope for a quick rebuilding effort to get the boardwalk back up and running again. As for the boardwalk material itself, most haven't seen a precast concrete system with individual boards (treads) that actually looks like a traditional wood boardwalk. Check out www.permatrak.com The product would be integrally colored, textured to look like wood, no protruding nails, no annual maintenance headaches, etc.
Longbeacher March 03, 2013 at 10:04 AM
what ever they do ,it will still not be done by summer ,so join a pool or beach club if you don't like the sound of hammers,trucks or saws ,because as u sit at the beach this summer thats all u will hear.outa here


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