Long Beach set to break ground on boardwalk

The Long Beach boardwalk is still untouched six The Long Beach boardwalk is still untouched six months after superstorm Sandy. A ground-breaking ceremony for the new, stronger boardwalk will be held Saturday. (April 24, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

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The timetable for the construction of the new Long Beach boardwalk is now set: a Saturday morning ground breaking and a completion date in early November.

Superstorm Sandy destroyed the city's 2.2-mile oceanfront boardwalk. The City Council earlier this month awarded a Plainview firm a $44.2-million contract to construct a new, stronger one.

The contract with Grace Industries of Plainview requires it to finish the boardwalk's middle four-fifths of a mile, from Laurelton Boulevard to Long Beach Boulevard, by late July. The outer segments of the boardwalk, which stretch to Neptune Boulevard in the east and New York Avenue in the west, must be finished by mid-October, the contract states. Final touches are due by early November.

"I don't think there's a full recovery until we have a boardwalk," Councilman John C. McLaughlin said. "There's a lot of good that comes from starting in the middle" of the boardwalk.

Some residents have expressed reservations about the project's high cost -- the city originally planned to spend $25 million on the new boardwalk -- but Long Beach officials have said a stronger boardwalk is critical to the city's economic health.

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Equally crucial is that Grace Industries adheres to the timetable required by the contract, McLaughlin said.

The new boardwalk will be stronger than the old one because it will be made of resilient tropical wood, representatives from project engineer LiRo of Syosset have said.

City Council president Scott Mandel sent a letter to residents that said 88 percent of survey respondents favored a stronger boardwalk.

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"The new boardwalk will be aesthetically appealing and require significantly less maintenance" than its predecessor, Mandel's letter said.

Long Beach officials have said they hope to pay for some of the work with Federal Emergency Management Agency money.

Saturday's ground-breaking ceremony begins at 11 a.m. at the beach at Riverside Boulevard. It is open to the public.

"It's going to be a fun, festive, really good time," said city spokesman Gordon Tepper, adding that about 3,000 people attended a "farewell" for the old boardwalk in January.

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