Council Members Demand Action To Save Beaches
While voicing optimism that the new Democratic-led Congress would fund projects to protect the city’s beaches from erosion, several City Council members said yesterday that local officials shouldn’t wait for federal money to safeguard New York City‘s waterfront from a major catastrophe.
“We have to work on our legislative efforts in Washington,” a City Council member of the Bronx, James Vacca, said yesterday at a Waterfronts Committee oversight hearing. “But I also don’t want the city to lag. I want the city to say that this is a priority with them to the point that should the federal government not make the commitment, we at this level will.”
Critics point to inaction following several studies commissioned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, whose recommendations haven’t been funded.
A study in 2005, for example, outlined steps to stop beach erosion and sand accumulation problems in the gated community of Sea Gate in Brooklyn. As beachfront continues to erode, the project has remained inactive and unfunded, and residents fear a repeat of the major storm in 1992 that flooded the neighborhood and washed away a house.
Another project to solve storm damage problems on the Staten Island coastline hasn’t been funded either.
Some committee members said yesterday the inaction leaves the city vulnerable.
“We’ve all seen the movies and the TV shows,” Council Member Michael Nelson of Brooklyn said, warning of the calamity that could befall beachfront communities in the event of a severe storm. “The … buffer zone that we have between us and the mighty ocean is going to be extremely important.”
A Parks Department commissioner for Queens, Dorothy Lewandowski, sought to assure the council yesterday that the city’s beaches wouldn’t be helpless if a major environmental catastrophe were to befall the waterfront, adding that the city would work with the federal government to take “whatever corrective measures need to be taken.”
Still, Council Member Vincent Gentile said he is concerned the waterfront could be left vulnerable.
“There’s no assurance that we would get money to replenish that shoreline,” Mr. Gentile said.
By MATTHEW CHAYES
Special to the Sun
January 17, 2007
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