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Rockaway Beach gets new boardwalk to replace Sandy-damaged stretch

Mayor Bill de Blasio greets folks on Friday,

Mayor Bill de Blasio greets folks on Friday, May 22, 2015, during the opening of the first full section of the newly constructed Rockaway Boardwalk, from Beach 86th Street to Beach 97th Street in Rockaway Beach. Photo Credit: Uli Seit

Standing on a strip of waterfront devastated by superstorm Sandy, Mayor Bill de Blasio opened the first full section of a new Rockaway Beach boardwalk Friday, a day before the official start of the ocean swimming season at New York City beaches.

He said any money left over from the $480 million in federal recovery dollars allocated for boardwalk repair would go toward further shoring up the peninsula, he said.

"For the first time since Sandy hit, this half-mile stretch of the boardwalk from Beach 86th Street to Beach 97th Street will be open to the public," de Blasio said.

De Blasio said the entire stretch of damaged boardwalk is expected to be completed by 2017.

Going to the Rockaway peninsula has proved rocky in the past for the mayor -- paradegoers booed him when he went there in March for St. Patrick's Day -- but Friday's visit went well: few if any boos, polite applause and praise from local politicians.

During a visit a day earlier to Staten Island -- another part of the city where de Blasio is unpopular -- a local man accosted the mayor about a litany of complaints.

After the news conference, several people on the boardwalk approached de Blasio to make small talk and take photos.

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