Officials announce beach plan to protect Long Beach from storms

"Mount Sandy," spread between Riverside Boulevard and Long "Mount Sandy," spread between Riverside Boulevard and Long Beach Road along Broadway, consists of beach sand that spilled into the city's streets due to superstorm Sandy. It reaches almost as high as electricity poles along the street. (Nov. 21, 2012) Photo Credit: James T. Madore

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A dune nearly 16 feet above sea level stretching the length of Long Beach's shoreline and enough sand to raise the height of the beach itself by as much as 5 feet are part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' plan to protect Long Beach from future hurricanes, city officials announced Monday.

Long Beach officials said the City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday night on whether to approve the mitigation plan -- an approval that would be the first in a battery of permissions required to move the plan forward.

The Army Corps' plan would make Long Beach's iconic oceanfront "an engineered beach," which would entitle the beach to renourishment by the Corps if another major storm hits the city, public works commissioner Jim LaCarrubba said.

Superstorm Sandy washed over the beach and devastated the city, causing an estimated $250 million in damage.

"We're sitting so vulnerable because Long Beach has never had an engineered beach," LaCarrubba said.

In 2006, the Long Beach City Council rejected an Army Corps beach protection plan -- which would have cost more than $98.5 million -- after numerous residents opposed the project. However, federal officials have promised 100 percent funding of a storm protection plan for Long Beach in the wake of Sandy, City Manager Jack Schnirman said.

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The plan includes building a dune, which would peak at 151/2 feet above sea level, just north of the city's oceanfront beach, LaCarrubba said. The dune would be 11/2 feet lower than the rebuilt boardwalk -- a planned structure that would replace the original boardwalk, which Sandy destroyed. The dune would be just in front of a retaining wall, which is scheduled to be built in front of the new boardwalk as part of that project.

The plan also would raise the beach, which is currently 5 feet above sea level, to between 8 and 10 feet, LaCarrubba said. At least half of Long Beach's 32 jetties also would be rehabilitated, LaCarrubba said.

Schnirman said the City Council will consider Tuesday night a resolution informing state officials that the city is moving forward with the Army Corps project.

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Hempstead Town, Nassau County and the state also have to sign off on the plan, Schnirman said. Hempstead's approval is necessary because the new dune would stretch beyond the city's borders into East Atlantic Beach, Lido Beach and Point Lookout, LaCarrubba said.

Tuesday night's vote is for the city to "formally declare its intention to move forward with the project," Schnirman said.

Long Beach is also working with federal officials to get funding for the Army Corps to study how to protect the city's bay side, Schnirman said.

Attempts to reach Army Corps officials late Monday were not successful.

Last week, Corps spokesman Chris Gardner said the Corps had given Congress a sketch plan of post-Sandy mitigation projects in the Northeast, which put the projects "a step closer" to reality.

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Tuesday night's meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 1 West Chester St., and is open to the public.

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