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Long Beach boardwalk restoration nears finish

Workers put the finishing touches on the boardwalk

Workers put the finishing touches on the boardwalk in Long Beach. (Oct. 11, 2013) Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Long Beach boardwalk -- wrecked last year by superstorm Sandy -- is on track to reach substantial completion by Tuesday, city officials said.

The city's $44.2-million contract with Grace Industries of Plainview requires the firm to have most of the work on the 2.2-mile boardwalk finished by the day after Columbus Day.

"The boardwalk project remains on time and on budget," City Manager Jack Schnirman said.

Workers set the last piece of concrete on the project on Thursday, and the framework of the new boardwalk now stretches from New York Avenue to Neptune Boulevard, as it did before the Oct. 29 storm, city manager Jack Schnirman said.

One-and-a-half miles of the boardwalk are open to the public, Schnirman said, adding that the entire structure should be open by early November. "Those of us who walk and run on the boardwalk can see this coming," he said.

The contract requires Grace Industries to complete minor items on the boardwalk by Nov. 12, but the unfinished sections of the boardwalk should be completed and open to the public before then, Schnirman said.

Long Beach officials have said they intend to pay for most of the work with funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which can reimburse municipalities for up to 90 percent of Sandy-related costs.

The price tag has been a source of criticism from some city residents who say they are concerned about carrying the cost if FEMA does not cover most of the project. The city originally estimated the project would cost $25 million.

"Hope is not a fiscal plan," said Jimmy Hennessy, a spokesman for the Long Beach Republican Party, the minority arm in city politics. "The fear is that the taxpayers, once again, are going to have to pick up the bill."

City officials and the project engineer, LiRo of Syosset, have said the project is worth the extra money because the new boardwalk will be stronger than its predecessor.

Some residents, including John Bendo, president of the West End Neighbors Civic Association, have defended the project because of the boardwalk's role as an iconic local landmark. Others have said the city needs the boardwalk to draw summer tourists.

"On the surface, it . . . seems like a high price tag," Bendo said. "But it's certainly a major symbol of the city of Long Beach."

Long Beach reopened the first section of the new boardwalk -- the middle four-fifths of a mile -- in July. Reinstallation of the memorial benches that lined the boardwalk before Sandy is underway, Schnirman said.

"It's so heartening to see the wonderful response that people have had to the completed sections," City Council President Scott Mandel said.


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