Government officials come together to fix damaged seawall

September 9, 2011 Denise Romano
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To protect the Belt Parkway and nearby areas from future storms,the seawall along the Narrows – damaged last week by HurricaneIrene – – needs to be raised.

That was the assessment of state, city and federal officials whogathered in Bath Beach near an affected portion of the seawall onSeptember 1 to assess damage from Hurricane Irene.

Moving forward, we want to prevent the Belt Parkway fromflooding, stressed Congressmember Michael Grimm, who organized themeeting. Not only do the shrubbery and trees get ruined, but itshuts down the Belt Parkway. We need to work with city, state andfederal government to get this fixed.

Brigadier General Peter DeLuca of the Army Corps of Engineers(ACE), State Senator Marty Golden, Councilmember Vincent Gentile,and representatives of Community Boards 10 and 11 were also on handto discuss the damage’s impact on the community and who isresponsible for making the repairs.

All officials agreed that a more permanent solution is neededinstead of spot-fixing repairs every time a storm hits. That, saidFrank Verga, project manager for ACE, means lifting thetwo-and-a-half-mile stretch of seawall from Bay Parkway to theVerrazano Bridge by three feet.

The seawall is very low and when high tide comes the water washesover, he explained. We want to make the right fix once and forall. We have to raise all of the seawall because sea level isconstantly rising.

The seawall wasn’t the only casualty of Irene’s fury in the area.Bill Guarinello, CB 11’s chairperson, added that Irene also damagedthe sewage structure near the Bay 8th Street overpass. Everylittle storm we get will cause problems, he said. It won’t beenough to flood the highway, but it’s enough to break chops.

The cost of raising the seawall is about $30 million and the planis to have the federal government fund 65 percent of the work, withthe remainder footed by state and local governments. Grimm iscurrently working to get these monies.

For now, the pieces of seawall badly damaged – near the 17th Avenueand Bay 8th Street pedestrian overpasses – are being repaired bythe Parks Department.

Parks is doing the repairs from Irene in general, DeLuca said,adding that the funds to do this were already available. It willtake three to four weeks to see all the damage and economic impactthat Irene caused.

Golden and Gentile called for all levels of government to worktogether to study and fix this issue.

We had this breach before, Golden said. The impact of this walllimits traffic in all boroughs. It’s a priority and it has to getaccomplished.

Gentile added, I am hoping now, with the help of the citycomptroller that we will get funding to fix this. Federal and stateofficials need to come together to work this out.

Hopefully, once the seawall is fixed, the bumpy bike path will alsobe repaved. But Grimm said that raising the wall is his firstpriority.

This project has a recreational aspect, as well, he said. It isone of the most used areas in the city when it comes to biking,walking and running. We have to be smart about prevention.Investing in a community with a seawall will save money in the longrun and this study will prove that it is a worthwhileinvestment.

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