Sustainable Long Island unveils findings from community meetings and online surveys.
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
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
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
weeks leading up to the Feb. 20 meeting. All gave input on boardwalk
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.
was completely consistent with every focus group and with every person that
came up to me after,” Engel said.
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.
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
Beach Protection and Army Corps Project
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.
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.
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.”
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
administration is working to resurrect.
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.
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
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
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
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.
The community input meetings and surveys represent step five
of a 10-step
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
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
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