Two more meetings scheduled for Monday and Wednesday.
The second of three focus
of the Hurricane Sandy-battered Long Beach boardwalk will be held Monday, in an
effort to gather community input on the project.
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At the inaugural
held at the Magnolia Community Center last week, some 100 residents who live in the center of town, from the east side of Grant Boulevard to the west side of
Long Beach Boulevard, sat together in groups and answered prepared questions,
including: “Three things you
appreciated about the boardwalk?” and “What is the most important issue facing
the future of the boardwalk?”
said they appreciated everything from reading to riding bikes to watching the
views on the oceanfront boardwalk, and others expressed hope that new shops and
restaurants will line the new structure.
Some residents are
more concerned about related safety issues as top priorities, rather than the
rebuilding of the walkway. Among them was Ray Ellmer, a lifeguard and former
Long Beach zoning board trustee, who told News 12
: “We’re talking
about a new boardwalk. That’s not important. What’s important is a seawall and
a dune to protect life and property from natural disasters such as hurricanes.”
Amy Engel, executive director of Sustainable
, a non-profit environmental organization
that is helping the city to facilitate the focus groups, said during her opening
remarks at last Wednesday’s meeting that the city is moving quickly on the
project because the boardwalk is “an economic driver … It’s so critical to
this reason, some city officials have said the goal is to reconstruct a new
boardwalk by the start of the summer season. Moreover, the cost to rebuild
the structure is estimated at $25 million, and the city is seeking assistance from different governmental outlets to pay a significant portion of the bill, including as
much as 90 percent through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
City officials and
Engel have both said that they are gathering community input on the boardwalk
and will consider residents' suggestions and insights when a construction firm is
hired to rebuild it.
But resident Rob
Catell fears the community’s input may fall on deaf ears: “These meetings are
nice, but personally I’m concerned it might be more window dressing that actual
input as far as what the ultimate decision will be,” Catell told News 12
group meeting will invite residents who live between Nevada Boulevard and the
west side of Grand Boulevard, and Wednesday’s meeting will include people living between Maple Boulevard and the eastside of Long Beach Boulevard. The city is
also gathering input from a newly created website,
, where residents and business owners can
fill out surveys on the boardwalk.
Council President Scott Mandel said the city will take the input from the focus
group meetings and online surveys and share their findings at a citywide
meeting at City Hall, from 6 to 8 p.m., Feb. 20.
“It’s really going to be an informational type of meeting,” Mandel told LongBeachNY.TV
“It’s going to be an event to let everybody hear the findings and to see what
we’ve culled from all the different endeavors to get people’s input.”
said the city will know more about the timeline of reconstruction once the work
to demolish the boardwalk is complete and the integrity and safety
of the concrete stanchions are assessed, after which the city can gauge the
type of materials that can be used for the new boardwalk.
really going to depend on what we’re left with and what the finances will
provide for,” Mandel said.
The Monday and Wednesday group meetings are from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Magnolia
Community Center, at 650 Magnolia Blvd. in Long Beach. MORE NEWS
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