Residents bid farewell to the Long Beach boardwalk

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Her friend, Christiana Baggie, a clerk at the Long Beach Public Library, moved to Long Beach from Trinidad 10 years ago. She is currently displaced, after her home on East Harrison Street was damaged during the storm.

"The boardwalk was where I would spend a lot of my spare time," she explained. "It's where I would go to unwind and de-stress after work. It's where I started playing volleyball and started meeting people because I had no friends when I moved here. It was a new town, different culture and different country. But I met people through the volleyball league and the boardwalk became the place that I love."

All that will be left once the removal process is completed will be the concrete stanchions that support the structure, city officials said. Schnirman said that while it is the city's hope to have the boardwalk reconstructed in time for the summer season — the city issued a request for proposals in December, seeking design specifications to rebuild the structure — at an estimated cost of $25 million, it was too early to provide a definitive timeline because federal disaster relief money is currently tied up on Capitol Hill.

"Obviously [Federal Emergency Management Agency] funding is a crucial piece of the process to determine what level of mitigation funding we have," Schnirman said after the ceremony. "It's too soon to tell [if it will be rebuilt by the summer]. We have to go through the FEMA process; the engineering process will produce options and once an option is chosen there will be a construction bid with a timeline."

Schnirman also said that it was too early to say whether a new boardwalk would be built using wood, concrete or synthetic materials to mitigate storm damage.

"The only talk that we hear loud and clear is that there is a wide recognition that it has to be rebuilt stronger than before," he said.

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