By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Fixing the breach is going to be a reach.
Local elected officials are reaching out to various entities of the city, state, and federal government seeking rapid repairs to the Shore Parkway sea wall which suffered extensive damage in Hurricane Sandy.
A 250-foot-long section of the sea wall located near the 17th Avenue pedestrian bridge was breached during the super-storm and the damage is so bad, the New York City Parks Department, the agency that oversees the bike and pedestrian path next to the sea wall, declared the area off limits.
The Belt Parkway, located near the sea wall, was flooded during the super-storm.
U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Brooklyn-Staten Island) said he would like to see the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) come in to do emergency repairs. Grimm has written to Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg asking them to request a FEMA mission assignment to repair the sea wall. Under a mission assignment, a repair project would be funded by FEMA. But the official request to FEMA has to be made by the city and state.
State Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) has written to Col. Paul Owens, director of the New York Division of the U.S. Corps of Engineers, requesting that the corps expedite repairs not only to the damaged area, but to a 2.5 mile stretch of the sea wall from the Verrazano Bridge in Bay Ridge to Bay Parkway in Bensonhurst.
“The flooding of the Belt Parkway is not a new issue, but one that has become increasingly worse with recent storms,” Grimm said. “Our crumbling seawall took another severe beating from Sandy, and without repairs, the flooding brought on by another storm could be detrimental to the Brooklyn community and the security of New York City. That is why I am urging the city and the state to request a FEMA mission assignment that would provide the Army Corps of Engineers with necessary resources to begin repairs without delay.”
Last year, the seawall suffered significant damage from Hurricane Irene, Grimm said.
“The areas near 14th Avenue, 17th Avenue, and 95th Street are noticeably compromised and left with little protection. When the seawall is compromised, it can no longer provide a buffer to prevent the flooding of the Belt Parkway, which is a crucial thoroughfare for residents and emergency vehicles,” Grimm wrote in his letter to Cuomo and Bloomberg
Grimm called the broken sea wall and missing railing “a safety hazard to those running and fishing in the area.”
Golden said the Army Corps of Engineers had already agreed to look into repairing the sea wall even before Hurricane Sandy hit. Those repairs should be put on a fast track, he said.
“Prior to the storm your office had been working with the city to replace a 2.5 mile section of the seawall running from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Bay Parkway,” Golden wrote in his letter to Owens. “The newly damaged section is entirely contained within the scope of the original project. Of course now the need to expedite the repair of the heavily damaged section is a high priority,” he wrote.
“It is my hope that in addition to an emergency fix for part of the seawall, the Army Corps will move forward with the replacement of the entire 2.5 mile section with a new seawall. In the long term this would be a better fix in protecting the adjourning highway and community as well as being a more efficient way of utilizing limited funds,” Golden wrote.
Christopher Gardner, public affairs specialist for the Army Corps of Engineers, said any major repair project would require congressional approval.
“We have been authorized to study the sea wall. The next step is that congress has to authorize the start of the study,” Gardner said.
Congress would have to approve funding to begin a study, he said, adding that such funding would likely be contained within a larger budget appropriations bill.