A new boardwalk must protect life and property

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The width of the boardwalk should also be narrowed by one-third — and as much as 50 percent from New York to Ohio avenues — and the structure removed from buildings that run along it and with all entrances, from the street to the boardwalk, running over the dunes onto the beach. Unlike the dunes in the West End, where entrances ran through those sand barriers, this type of system would provide maximum protection.

As a Long Beach volunteer firefighter who served during Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy, it was clear that there is a direct connection between the ocean, Reynolds Channel and the fires that occurred during those storms. During Both Irene and Sandy, fires started in Long Beach at high tide during the height of the storms. The fires started mostly in parked automobiles, with no individuals inside or the automobile running, which means the fires could start in any location throughout Long Beach during a hurricane. Additionally, we saw that the Long Beach, Bay Park and Cedar Creek sewage treatment plants totally malfunctioned due to aged equipment, sending billions of gallons of raw, toxic sewage into our homes.

During Sandy, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., the Long Beach Fire Department could not respond south of Park Avenue due to the power of the storm surge. The wave-break wall included in the city’s new boardwalk proposal is designed to protect the boardwalk, not residents or property.

Everyone is in agreement that we have only one chance to rebuild the boardwalk right. But the way to do that is to elevate the structure and install a concrete seawall underneath, combined with a dune system in front that can be paid for with state and federal funds if we receive the cooperation and help of our state and federal representatives.

Ellmer is an attorney, environmentalist, and volunteer firefighter.

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