It was a packed house at last night’s Community Board 14 meeting at the Knights of Columbus. Every seat was full and people were sitting on the floor and standing around the perimeter.
This meeting focused on the Parks department and opening the beaches this summer. It was not about a long term rebuilding strategy. It was focused primarily on short-term solutions. The meeting next month on February 12th is with the Army Corps of Engineers. That meeting will be more focused on the long term rebuild. We will keep you updated with that info, including the when and the where as well as another live tweet of the meeting.
These are our fast and furious notes. If you have new, different or additional information please post it on our Facebook page or in the comments section or email us at RockawayHelp@gmail.com.
Meeting opened with some brief comments from Dolores Orr.
LIPA says there are about 7500 meters still not turned on. That is a mixture of residential and commercial properties. The largest number, around 1265, are in Arverne. (We believe a single meter can serve more than one customer….for example….a single meter can serve an entire building with multiple apartments. Need to double check this.)
FEMA has a new Intergovernmental Affairs specialist. He is from Queens. His name is Michael Byrne(s).
Moreland Commission issued their report without any input from the Rockaways.
Queens Library had around 5 million in buildings damage. The Broad Channel library will hopefully open in the next few weeks. Seaside library will get half a million dollars. Peninsula library is going to cost 2.9 million to fix. FEMA money for the library goes through the City of New York. They may take a cut. Politicians working on a pass through contract to keep that from happening.
Ambrose Channel dredging sand is not going to Rockaway. More on that at the rebuild meeting next month.
DOT is working on restoring street and traffic lights.
Next up: Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.
There are three phases to their process. The goal is opening day: Memorial Day 2013.
1. Clean up. 2. Safe up. 3. Open up.
Lewandowski warns the beaches will not be the same this summer. They are creating temporary solutions so we can have a beach season this year, but they are neither ideal nor all permanent.
We will have complete NYC Lifeguard coverage this summer at Rockaway Beach. Same number as last year.
Beach walls: Beach 126-149 will get new beach walls. They will be 4 feet high and go deep underground. The beach walls are called baffles. We believe they look similar to highway dividers.
Boardwalk: Main buildings were seriously damaged and the boardwalk is gone in many places. However, the concessions will be back this summer in the form of small “island” platforms. We will not have a continuous boardwalk but we will have little boardwalk islands off the main buildings at Beach 86. 97 and 106.
Bathrooms will also be back. However, the bathroom at Beach 116th will not reopen because it is underground and was full of sand. They are working on a temporary solution.
Boardwalk that was in the streets in residential areas was considered debris and thrown away because the priority in those areas was clean up. Boardwalk that was in the streets in non-residential areas was salvaged because there was more time. Those boards are in storage for possible “adaptive rebuild.”
Some boardwalk was split, for example between Beach 81-84. That boardwalk will be fixed. Parks hopes to keep these areas of boardwalk open this summer: Beach 9-35, Beach 40-60, and Beach 81-86.
Beach 68-74 will be left “as is” as a sort of Sandy work of art and remembrance. There will be no boardwalk from Beach 86-126 except for mini island platforms (approximately 1 block each).
Boardwalk pilings will be surrounded by chain link fences to keep people from climbing on them. Breezeway entrances will be erected for beach entrance, but probably not on every block. Boardwalk entrances and islands will be handicapped accessible.
Many residents from Beach 108 to 126 are concerned there is no protection for them from another storm. Lower blocks are protected by Shore Front Parkway, higher blocks are protected by baffle walls.
There was a lot of sand in the streets of Rockaway. That sand was moved to Riis Park where it was cleaned and sifted to remove debris and is being replaced on the beaches. It is approximately 70 thousand cubic yards of sand. Parks department will also be purchasing replacement sand.
Parks department wants community involvement in larger rebuild strategy. They are planning to set up a gmail address for input.
Next up: Questions from board members and residents.
Lots of stress about how these temporary fixes will protect Rockaway from possible storms during the next hurricane season. Residents and board members do not think building sand dunes will be useful without anything to keep that sand in place.
Hank Iori wants to know why Long Beach can rebuild their boardwalk by the summer, but Rockaway can’t. (To be fair, our boardwalk is much longer than theirs.)
Many residents concerned about restoration of Hockey Rink at Beach 108/109.
John Cori says meetings need to be better publicized so community can have input. He is concerned about outsiders and developers taking over our rebuilding plans.
Resident asked who is doing the rebuilding and other fixes. Parks says “contractors,” don’t have exact name.
A lot of talk about whether we should have a concrete boardwalk and how to best protect our community. Also, some talk about not being told by Bloomberg about how to rebuild our boardwalk.
Red tagged buildings will get an interest free property tax extension until April 1st. Others in Rockaway may be able to pay less in property taxes if they request a property reassessment from the Department of Finance. Visit nyc.gov/finance for more on that.
Ulrich says he is trying to get garbage pickup extended beyond January 15th.
General talk about great work by residents, volunteers, sanitation.
Next meeting February 12th with the Army Corps of Engineers! We will live tweet that meeting @rockawayhelp on Twitter.