A 200 foot portion of a Queens seawall on the East River in Queensbridge Park has completely failed, and experts are warning of further deterioration along the waterfront. The portion of the seawall that is failing is located near Queensbridge Houses, New York City Housing Authority's largest public housing project. The City Parks Department has fenced off the area to prevent people from getting hurt. While this safety precaution is necessary, it means that local residents no longer have access to the waterfront. In addition, cathodic devices under the seawall that are critical to the safe operation of New York subway lines are endangered by the seawall’s deterioration.
While the crumbling seawall has been a priority for residents of the Long Island City community, it was not seen as a priority by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until Congresswoman Maloney got involved.
On May 22, 2002 the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure initiated a resolution at the urging of Congresswoman Maloney, calling for the Army Corps to do a Reconnaissance Study regarding the Queens seawall. On August 13, 2004, the Army Corps sent a letter stating expressly that there was no federal interest in moving on to a cost shared feasibility study. Congresswoman Maloney immediately started working to reverse that determination.
In January 25, 2005, Congresswoman Maloney met privately with officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As a result of that meeting, the Corps agreed to reconsider its determination regarding "federal interest" in the repair of the seawall. On February 11, 2005, Congresswoman Maloney organized a meeting of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the MTA, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, and area elected officials, including Borough President Helen Marshall, Senator George Onorato, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, and Councilmember Eric Gioia, all of whom have been longstanding supporters of the seawall’s repair. Also in attendance at this key meeting were members of the City Parks Foundation, who have played an important role in advancing the seawall’s repair and in ongoing improvements of the parks of Western Queens. The purpose of the meeting was to convey to the Army Corps the importance of the project to the people and elected leaders of Queens. While the regional office was persuaded, the change in determination had to be made in the Washington office.
On February 15, 2005, the Army Corps concluded that it was indeed in the federal interest to repair the seawall. The Army Corps agreed to lead the design and engineering phase of the project, with its anticipated local partners the MTA and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. The next phase of work for the seawall’s repair will include an engineering analysis, an environmental review, and the production of design documents.
Funding for Seawall Repair
Congresswoman Maloney was instrumental in obtaining $175,000 for FY2006, $275,000 for FY2005 and $100,000 for FY2004, with the support of other members of the New York delegation. Additionally, she worked with Congressman Joe Crowley to obtain $100,000 for FY2003, again with the support of the rest of the New York Delegation.
In addition, the City of New York has allocated $250,000 for the project and the State of New York has allocated $325,000 for the project.
Currently, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation expects to be able to complete the project with mitigation funds from the restoration of the FDR Drive.