After Push from Schumer and Goldfeder, Army Corps Agrees to Allocate $4.5 Million for Dredging at East Rockaway Inlet

May 23, 2012
Severe storm damage from Hurricane Irene has caused erosion & put safety of Rockaway residents at risk; last week, Schumer, Goldfeder called on Army Corps to Fund dredging and work with NYC Parks to place dredged sand on Rockaway Beach

Schumer, Goldfeder announce Army Corps agrees to allocate $4.5 million for dredging; Contractor will be chosen by fall, placing sand from Beach 26th Street to Beach 36th Street

Schumer: This is a huge victory for Rockaway residents, boats, emergency responders and the commercial shipping industry

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder today announced that after pressure from their offices, the Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to allocate $4.5 million to fund dredging at the East Rockaway Inlet and to place dredged sand on storm-eroded Rockaway Beach. On shore, as a result of severe storm damage to the beach, most recently after Hurricane Irene, erosion has put the homes and safety of Rockaway residents at risk. Offshore, vital channels are clogging with sand. Without dredging, the East Rockaway Inlet’s vital channels will clog up and threaten safe passage for boaters, anglers and emergency response, as well as the viability of the commercial shipping industry.

Schumer and Goldfeder called on the Army Corps last week to reprogram funding to dredge the East Rockaway Inlet, and then to work with New York City Parks Department to restore Rockaway Beach with dredged sand from the Inlet, which can protect both Rockaway residents and this vital recreational boating and commercial shipping channel. Schumer and Goldfeder today announced that the Army Corps had agreed to allocate 4.5 million for the project, with a contractor expected to be chosen by the fall. The Army Corps will place dredged sand from Beach 26th street to Beach 36th street, a site determined to meet federal standards of complying with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and DEP standards while also representing the site with the least cost. A local sponsor agency could step in and reach a funding agreement with the Army Corps to move the sand to other locations on Rockaway Beaches.

“This is a huge victory for Rockaway residents who will finally receive relief from dangerous erosion that threatens their homes and livelihoods,” said Schumer. “I want to thank the Army Corps of Engineers for stepping up to the plate by delivering these much-needed funds. I look forward to work getting underway on this project that will protect residents and also ensure that boats, anglers, emergency responders and commercial ships can continue to use the channel.”

“I am pleased that the Army Corps of Engineers has responded to our request to fully fund the dredging at the East Rockaway Inlet, more importantly, about the potential for the dredged sand to be placed on Rockaway Beaches,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “It is crucial that we get a commitment from the New York City Parks Department to move the dredged sand to the area of our beach where it is needed most, to ensure the safety and livelihoods of our residents and businesses. The waters are getting dangerously close to our homes and if we do not act immediately we may no longer have a boardwalk or even a neighborhood to enjoy.

Schumer and Goldfeder noted that this dredging project was essential in order to accommodate the large vessels whose average commercial tonnage is approximately 357,000 tons. Schumer and Goldfeder noted that not only are the beaches a favorite summer destination for the people of Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx and an economic engine for the Rockaways, they also act as an important barrier that protects infrastructure and private property from the sea. In some parts of the Rockaways sand is less than 15 feet from the boardwalk during high tide, compared to an average of 75 feet of beach during 2010.

Senator Schumer and Assemblyman Goldfeder have been long supporters of funding for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and have fought for funding on behalf of New York State through Energy and Water Appropriations. The Army Corps has had a long history of working to protect East Rockaway Inlet and Rockaway Beach. East Rockaway Inlet was authorized as a federal navigation project in 1930. At Rockaway Beach the Corps designed, constructed and maintained the beach under two major construction projects from 1977 until 2004. The Rockaway Beach Reformulation Study, with the objective of finding a long term, cost-effective solution to the effects of continued erosion on the Rockaway peninsula, is currently ongoing. In March, Senator Schumer and Assemblyman Goldfeder called on the Army Corps to continue funding the Reformulation Study which is about 2 years from completion.