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Jim LaCarrubba, the city’s commissioner of public works, said the wooden walkovers, which connect the beach to the streets, will be rebuilt at all locations where they previously stood before Hurricane Sandy washed many of them away last year. With the Federal Emergency Management Agency likely to cover the costs of the rebuilt structures, the city is working to have as many of the walkovers rebuilt to comply with standards set by the Americans With Disabilities Act.
“We’re making a strong argument that they should all be ADA compliant,” LaCarrubba said at the West End Neighbors Civic Association meeting Sept. 18.
If the walkovers are rebuilt according to ADA requirements, LaCarrubba said, they would cross above the top of the dunes, rather than run through them, and they would be elevated two feet above the dunes in order that the dunes may grow underneath them.
LaCarrubba said he designed all the access points to the walkovers to be installed at the center of each street, rather than off to the sides as they exist, and the curbs and sidewalks would be reconfigured to connect to the centered entrances.
On Thursday, the city told Patch that FEMA is reviewing plans and specifications for the walkovers, designed according to requirements set by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which the city submitted to the agency.
“If we can get the green light, I will put them out to bid within two weeks and we’ll start construction in the late fall, early winter,” LaCarrubba said at the Sept. 18 civic meeting, noting that the city would rebuild the structures concurrently at both ends of the city.
At the meeting, a resident asked the commissioner how the city would decide which streets would get walkovers if they couldn’t all be made handicap accessible. LaCarrubba indicated the city would listen to residents' input on that decision. The city on Thursday told Patch that in that scenario “we would ultimately go back to the public to work out where we would place ADA ramps and where we wouldn't. But it is the city's position that all should be built to ADA specifications as per federal law and we will push for that conclusion.”
Another resident asked about the reconstruction of bathrooms and showers on the beach that were destroyed by Sandy, including a structure between Wyoming and Virginia avenues. She told LaCarrubba: “This structure breached the dunes. I don’t know if it was built before the dunes or [was built] or after, but it’s right smack in the middle of the two dunes and that was a great concern to us because that was a hole in the damn.”
LaCarrubba said the city would not replace any of the bathrooms on the beach in areas where the dunes will be rebuilt. “We will not break the dunes to put any structures on the beach,” he said. “ … They’re not going back where they were,” he added about all the bathrooms. He also said the city has not yet decided where they will be rebuilt.