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New lights, bathrooms, lifeguard HQ on long list of Long Beach boardwalk improvements

Replacement of lights, repairs to memorial benches, and

Replacement of lights, repairs to memorial benches, and new bathrooms are visible improvements the city of Long Beach has made on the Boardwalk at Neptune Boulevard, pictured Friday. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Long Beach city officials have fixed more than 100 lights on the boardwalk, replaced dozens of broken memorial benches and built new bathrooms as part of work on the boardwalk this summer.

City workers inspected 117 lights spanning the length of the 2.2-mile boardwalk after seven hanging lights came crashing down between January and February, said Public Works director John Mirando.

Workers had to take down 45 of the lights, which were deemed in danger of falling. Each light weighs about 60 pounds, and snow fencing was erected at the base of the light poles before they were repaired.

The early generation LED lights were installed in 2013 when the boardwalk was rebuilt after being destroyed during superstorm Sandy in 2012. City officials said the lights contained a design flaw after they were retrofitted in standard light fixtures and remained stationary during high winds that howled between buildings on the boardwalk.

Officials said high winds and the salt air oxidized screws and loosened and grinded through a ball joint, causing the lights to come crashing down. 

Long Beach also partnered with the North Amityville-based MagniFlood lighting company to review light fixtures that had similar problems on the George Washington Bridge.

“The lights were too rigid, and the winds created wear and tear and they would come apart and drop to the ground,” Mirando said.

Although the city’s five-year warranty has lapsed with Illinois-based contractor Sternberg Lighting, the company agreed to cover the costs of any repairs.

Each light fixture along the boardwalk is being retrofitted to allow the hanging lights to sway on the pole and also attach to a 1-foot lanyard that can hold 400 pounds if the light falls again. The newly installed lights withstood the winds during Tropical Storm Isaias this month.

All of the lights have been repaired except at eight entrances coming up to the boardwalk. Workers plan to complete all lighting repairs by the first week of September.

“There’s plenty of light again on the boardwalk,” Mirando said.

The city has also repaired almost all of the memorial benches that line the railings. About 300 benches last year sustained broken boards and planks from heat and other weather-related damage, skateboarders or people exercising and stretching on the benches.

The city has 722 benches that have mostly been purchased by families for about $3,000. Long Beach officials have needed $100,000 in repairs to replace boards for the benches in the past year.

The city has fenced off every other bench on the boardwalk to maintain social distancing during the pandemic. Officials also closed the boardwalk nightly at 9 p.m. to control crowds, which has allowed crews to keep the boardwalk clean overnight.

Other improvements on the boardwalk include adding new bathroom structures at New York Avenue and Neptune Boulevard. The new bathroom buildings also include a small lifeguard monitoring room with an observation deck.

The city is expecting its new preconstructed lifeguard headquarters building to be delivered the first week of October. It will include a communications center and hurricane-proof, glass-enclosed observation deck on the roof.

BOARDWALK IMPROVEMENTS

117 lights retrofitted for high winds

300 memorial benches repaired

New bathrooms at Neptune Boulevard and New York Avenue

Lifeguard headquarters at Riverside Boulevard

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