COMMUNITY SAFETY IN QUEENS NEIGHBORHOOD THREATENED BY CRUMBLING SEAWALL
QUEENS, NY - Today, with a number of concerned residents from Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan and Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney announced two separate funding streams totaling $825,000 for the repair of a dangerous seawall along the Queens shore line that currently has life-threatening gaps, holes and cracks in it, right next to hundreds of units of family housing.A 200 foot portion of a Queens seawall on the East River has completely failed, and experts are warning of further deterioration along the waterfront. While the City Parks Department rightly fenced off the area, the danger of people accessing the waterfront along the seawall remains, and the insult to the community of being barred from the waterfront continues to be a serious problem in need of immediate action.
Assemblywoman Nolan announced a successful effort to access $325,000 in MTA Capitol Reserve Funds to pay the local share of a U.S. Army Corp of Engineers feasibility study.
Congresswoman Maloney announced that $500,000 in federal funds for the seawall’s repair had passed in the House of Representatives, Fiscal Year 2005 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, and now awaits passage by the Senate.
Assemblywoman Nolan said, “I am pleased to announce this grant of $325,000 towards the rehabilitation of the Queensbridge Seawall. Access to the Queensbridge Park waterfront should be available to all of our community. This grant is a significant step in making the Queensbridge Park safer and the waterfront
available for all to enjoy. I would especially like to thank Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for his assistance in obtaining this funding.”
Congresswoman Maloney said, “Now is the time to get this seawall fixed and I hope with these funds, that the Army Corps can get the job done immediately. There’s no reason to wait, but thousands of reasons to get this seawall repaired as soon as possible. The hundreds of children and families in this neighborhood live in danger of the huge holes and cracks in this seawall, and they remain blocked from access to the waterfront. They deserve a safe place to live, and for the children, as safe place to play. The MTA’s infrastructure is also in danger because of this disrepair, another reason the project deserves immediate attention.”
Joining Congresswoman Maloney and Assemblywoman Nolan at today’s announcement were: Richard Murphy, Queens Borough Commissioner, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation; Elizabeth McQueen, President, Friends of Queensbridge Park; David Rivel, Executive Director, CityParks Foundation; Joe Conley, Chairman of Community Board 2; George Delis, District Manager, Community Board 1; and a representative of the Sierra Club.
The funds announced today follow two prior $100,000 installments of federal money for initial research about the seawall, obtained by Congresswoman Maloney and Congressman Joe Crowley.
In addition, the City of New York has allocated $250,000 for the project.
Summary of Queens Seawall Repair Project
The bulkhead, originally designed as a stone-filled timber crib, is in poor condition and an approximately 200-foot portion of it has completely failed. In the interests of public safety, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has installed fencing to prevent access to an approximately 30 feet wide promenade along the park waterfront. Before the promenade can be opened to public access again, the bulkhead must be restored to a structurally safe condition.
As far as the strategy for bulkhead repair goes, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) commenced a Reconnaissance Study of the seawall in September of this year (this is using the funds Congresswoman Maloney had obtained). They must first investigate whether there is a federal interest and then determine whether they can consider it an emergency project that would move along a faster track. The reconnaissance study, which took the anticipated time of close to one year, has been completed.
At this time, the national headquarters of the Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing the reconnaissance study, to determine federal interest. Once that determination is made, ACE would officially identify local sponsors – in this case including the MTA and DPR – to help fund the next step of their involvement, a feasibility study (a 50% cost sharing applies here, with a non-federal sponsor providing the remainder of the funds), which would include an engineering analysis, an environmental review, and the production of design documents. This study can take anywhere from 18 months to five years.
In the meantime, DPR is exploring alternative means of funding the stabilization and repair of the seawall (there are a number of agencies who have utilities within the promenade area, also DOT & MTA contractors had undertaken work in the vicinity of the bridge which may have contributed to the structural failure of the seawall).
(Summary originally prepared by the NYC Parks and Recreation Department with updates from Office of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney)