The first in a series of forums soliciting public input on the reconstruction of the Long Beach boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy will be held Wednesday.
The City of Long Beach and Sustainable Long Island will host all the focus group forums at the Magnolia Senior Center, at 650 Magnolia Blvd., from 6 to 8 p.m. on the following dates:
- Feb. 6 (focusing on residents living between the east side of Grand Boulevard and the west side of Long Beach Boulevard)
- Feb. 11 (focusing on residents living between Nevada Boulevard and the west side of Grand Boulevard)
- Feb. 13 (focusing on residents living between Maple Boulevard and the east side of Long Beach Boulevard)
The city posted an announcement about the boardwalk focus groups and online surveys on its website last week, when a newly-created website, LongBeachListens.com, went live to gather community feedback and where residents and business owners are asked to fill out separate surveys. Schnirman said that since it’s launch late last week, the survey has already had more than 900 responses.
The city will hold a city-wide meeting at City Hall from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 20, when officials will present the findings from the online surveys and focus groups.
“I should mention that I was able attended the first focus group with the Chamber of Commerce and it was phenomenal,” Schnirman added.
The city manager also gave an update on the city’s recovery process, in which he said the work to demolish the boardwalk and the sifting of sand to clean and return it to the beach will both be completed shortly.
Some resident took the opportunity during the council meeting’s Good and Welfare session to offer some suggestions about boardwalk and beach rebuilding.
John Bendo, president of West End Neighbors Civic Association, cautioned the council to remind residents that their input will be considered in conjunction with outside experts. “You need to manage the people’s expectations,” Bendo said.
Resident Janine Gillespie asked the council members to take their time in considering a new boardwalk and refurbished beach, and encouraged them to “think from the bottom up,” by focusing foremost on safety issues, including rebuilding bathrooms and lifeguard facilities.
“The boardwalk is for the tourists; the beach is for the locals,” said Gillespie, whose husband, Paul, is chief of Long Beach Lifeguards. “... I just think we need to look the distance with this project,”
Another resident, Robert Shanley, who is involved with different arts groups in Long Beach, suggested that the city build a visiting center on both the boardwalk and at the Long Island Rail Road station.