Army Corps work hits delay

Beach closures cause concern amid heat wave


The second phase of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ coastal protection project hit a delay last week as a result of rough weather and a broken dredge, Project Manager Dan Falt said on Tuesday.

“We did lose a little time,” Falt acknowledged. “There was a week of high seas, and then the dredge broke down. It does highlight that [the work] is sensitive to offshore weather.”

The dredge is being used to replenish sand between New York and Ohio avenues, work that was initially scheduled to be completed by Aug. 11, but is now expected to be completed three days later.

The work requires 1,000-foot sections of beach to be closed, and as the Herald went to press, it was taking place at Maryland Avenue, with the six blocks between Maryland and the Illinois Avenue beach closed as well. Temporary fencing was set up to create a path to other beaches.

“We’re working on getting back into the swing of things,” Falt said after workers took a week to repair the dredge. “They should complete the entire West End by the 14th. They’re opening the beach behind them as quick as they move forward.”

Many residents, however, took to social media to express their frustration with the beach closures on some of the busiest and hottest days of the season, and added that their beach passes should have been discounted.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for Nassau County on Sunday, and temperatures on the following three days reached the low 90s, with oppressive humidity caused the heat index to climb.

“If I lived on Connecticut [Avenue] and I had three kids in tow and I had to go all the way down to Maryland or Minnesota … you’re going to be grumpy,” said West End resident Liz Treston, adding that she was frustrated by what she called a lack of communication from the city on the status of the project. “The grumpiness would go away if I knew I’m going to leave earlier in the morning, or plan my day because I know that my beach is closed today.”

“It’s a little bit of inconvenience for a large gain and benefit for the city,” said Department of Public Works Commissioner John Mirando. “That’s the agreed-upon stretch,” he added of the current closures. “The work site is fenced off, but you can still walk around it to the other beaches.”

After work in the West End is finished, the pipe that pumps the dredged sand onto the beach will be moved east for work set to take place from Long Beach to Magnolia boulevards, and then from Magnolia to Grand Boulevard.

The entire $230 million project, including the construction of jetties, dunes and crossovers and sand replenishment, is scheduled to be completed next winter.

The city recently granted a noise variance to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company LLC to allow for the work to continue 24 hours a day, part of an effort to finish the project nearly a year early. The company was awarded a $51 million contract in April to dredge and pump 4 million cubic yards of sand onto the beach from Long Beach to Point Lookout.

The sand replenishment phase began in Long Beach rather than Point Lookout, officials said, because contractors cannot work from the eastern city limit to Point Lookout until after Sept. 1 because of environmental restrictions that protect the piping plover population during the birds’ nesting season.

“In addition, as they’re moving along, they may have a thousand feet of beach shut down, but the thousand feet of beach that they left behind is twice as wide as it was before, so there’s really a lot more beach to go on,” Mirando said. “There’s only a thousand feet out of four miles of beach that’s closed. That four miles of beach is 20,000 feet of beach.”