A popular strip of beach in Rockaway, closed last year because of erosion, is set to get an infusion of sand this year, officials announced Monday.
About 300,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from the East Rockaway Inlet will fill out the shoreline from Beach 92nd Street to Beach 103rd Street through an agreement between the city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The project is slated to start this spring to replenish the beaches in time to greet swimmers and sunbathers this summer.
“We recognize that reopening is important for the community, and adds some additional protection for this coastal community while we await the Army Corps’ long-term reformulation project,” city Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said in a statement.
For Rockaway residents, the beach is more than a beloved source of recreation; it is a vital barrier between their homes and the Atlantic Ocean.
The city’s decision last summer to close the beaches for safety reasons led to an outcry from residents, business owners and beachgoers who said the shore needed better year-round protection. The cityagreed to reopen a section between Beach 96th Street and Beach 98th Street in time for the July Fourth holiday after evaluating the situation with lifeguards.
The Army Corps has awarded Weeks Marine a $10.7 million contract for the dredge work, which is periodically needed so boats can safely navigate the waters. The city’s Parks Department will pay $2.7 million to have the dredged sand pumped to the beach.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who helped secure money for the dredging project, said he is urging the Army Corps to move ahead with plans for long-term shore protection, such as adding groins, jetties and dunes.
In 2013, Rockaway’s beaches were replenished with 3.5 million cubic yards of sand to build up the shoreline, which was battered by superstorm Sandy one year earlier.