City officials said that the new boardwalk also requires significantly less maintenance, because the ipe (pronounced e-pay) wood planks have a 30- to 40-year lifespan, compared with the three- to seven-year life of the old boardwalk planks. Other features include a retaining wall with vinyl/fiberglass sheeting, stringers and supports beneath the boardwalk. The wall was built to mitigate wave action on the south side of the boardwalk in order to prevent the same kind of damage it sustained in Sandy. Additionally, the boardwalk has new aluminum pipe railing and antique light poles and fixtures.
Last October, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it would cover roughly 90 percent of the project’s $42 million cost, while the state would reimburse the city for the remainder.
At last year’s community input meetings, a number of residents called for more concessions, public restrooms, security, gazebos, restaurants and family attractions, and city officials say they are now looking to revisit those suggestions during the next round of meetings. The city also announced plans last year to honor actor Billy Crystal with a gazebo on the boardwalk at Neptune Boulevard, called Billy’s Way.
“We are extremely interested in hearing what everyone has to say about what they would like to see on the new boardwalk,” said City Councilman Len Torres. “These focus groups and surveys will play an integral role in determining what Long Beach will really look like in the future.”
City officials said that FEMA could fund some new additions along the boardwalk, such as restrooms that were wiped out by the storm. “We had concessions and comfort stations on the beach that can no longer be there, so the funding will come for the replacement,” said Jim LaCarrubba, commissioner of the city’s Department of Public Works. “Obviously we can’t build below the base flood elevation, and we can’t build back out on the beach, because FEMA wouldn’t fund something like that — they’ve told us already you have to build something that’s above the BFE, especially along the shoreline — so that’s why we’re putting them on the back side of the boardwalk, on the north side, similar to what’s at Riverside and Lafayette currently.”