Former councilman expresses concerns about resolution on Tuesday's agenda.
The Long Beach City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on a resolution to resurrect the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' storm damage reduction proposal that a prior council unanimously rejected six years ago.
A legislative note accompanying the Dec. 4 council agenda characterizes the resolution as a first step after Hurricane Sandy to re-engage the Army Corps to revisit the project and renew discussions, planning and public input on it. The resolution states that nothing in it commits the city to fund the project, although the city would enter into “a mutually agreeable cost-sharing agreement with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as the local sponsor in order to construct the project.”
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The resolution comes after U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand in November called on the corp to expedite seven projects
— all of which Congress had authorized but were never started or completed — to protect coastline communities from flooding during storms, including Staten Island, Long Beach and Montauk. The senators hope Congress will approve $500 million to $1 billion in new financing for these projects as early as this month.
In 2006, the City Council voted against a $100 million Army Corps proposal aimed at protecting Long Beach from storm damage. At the time trustees argued that the plan was too costly and failed to address potential flooding from Reynolds Channel, and a number of residents, surfers and others said that it would ruin ocean views and negatively impact wave conditions.
“ ... One of the main reasons why the project was defeated in 2006 was because the Army Corps plan did nothing to protect the city from bay flooding, which represented much of the flood damage to the city in the East End and the West End,” said Jim Hennessy, who sat on the council that turned down the Army Corps proposal.
The new resolution states about that proposal: “On May 4, 2006, the City of Long Beach unanimously defeated a resolution to authorize participation in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Storm Damage Reduction Project for Long Beach, thus declining further participation at that time. …”
But Hennessy, who expressed concern that the city administration may look to blame the prior council for turning down the corps proposal, noted that Democrats were in the majority on that council, and right after the project was defeated he and a fellow Republican councilman, Thomas Sofield Jr.. proposed an alternative plan
He said that starting in 2008, under a Republican-led council, the city hired coastal engineers to start Long Beach on a new and better proposal, spearhead by Kevin Mulligan, the commissioner of public works who was fired in January.
"I hope this administration doesn't use this issue to play politics,” Hennessy said. “This is a time for all of us to work together."Be a Follower. Explore and subscribe to Patch groups.
In 2009, the city released a coastal protection study, conducted by the consulting firm Coastal Planning & Engineering Inc., which offered guidance in implementing a revised federal storm-protection program that addressed concerns about the corps proposal.
Among the Dec. 4 agenda's other items is a resolution to amend the existing agreement with Coastal Planning & Engineering to assist the city with Sandy-related damages. Sounding a note of concern about the city’s
vulnerability to future storms, the new resolution reports that beaches lost five feet of sand
elevation during Hurricane Sandy, and whereas high tide was 125 from the boardwalk prior to the storm, it is now just 25 feet.
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