Guarantees sought on repairs to Long Beach shoreline

John Asbury for Newsday

January 07, 2020

Originally published in Newsday on January 07, 2020.

Lawmakers are asking the U.S. Army Corps to guarantee repairs to newly built jetties and groins in Long Beach that local officials said are already falling apart. 

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) sent a letter last month to Army Corps Commanding General Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite seeking a commitment to maintain the $130 million shoreline protection project, which was completed last year for $100 million under budget.

Long Beach city officials and commissioners with the Town of Hempstead have expressed concerns about the integrity of the project, which included 18 jetties rehabilitated between Long Beach and Point Lookout.

"The Army Corps are the experts when it comes to building and maintaining protections against storm surges and flooding," Schumer said. "That is why I'm asking the Corps to stand by its work and finalize an agreement in writing to alleviate their concerns regarding the stability of the rehabilitated groins."

The city and town have been reluctant to accept responsibility for the project and routine maintenance if future repairs will be needed, Schumer and Kaminsky said.

“At some point, someone is going to say someone needs to do something,” Kaminsky said in an interview last week. “We saw there’s a design flaw here and we’re hoping everything stays fine, but we want to make sure they’re on record as being responsible for this.”

Kaminsky said Long Beach and Hempstead should receive ownership of the project so they continue to be eligible for federal funds, but with a commitment from the Army Corps to maintain the jetties.

The Army Corps turned over the project to New York State and agreed last year to conduct annual inspections and maintenance before they reevaluate the project in the next five years.

“The Corps will continue to work with the State of New York and the City of Long Beach to ensure the groins continue to work as designed,” Army Corps spokesman Michael Embrich said. “There is no indication from anyone that they aren't.”

Army Corps engineers worked for three years to build four new jetties and rehabilitate 18 jetties, which are designed to collect sand and prevent erosion. The new jetties have increased the size of the beach in some areas by extending the shoreline.

But Long Beach officials hired a Florida coastal engineering firm that found the jetties may not have been designed properly and the 30,000-pound boulders are already separating and sinking into the sand under crashing waves.

Long Beach Acting City Manager John Mirando said the end of the jetties — which were not built with a concrete foundation — now needs to be taken apart and rebuilt.

“My biggest concern is in the next five years, they may deteriorate further and stop doing what they’re supposed to do,” Mirando said. “We put in notice we would not take ownership until they continued the work. I want the Army Corps to guarantee they will hold up for 50 years and not allow sand to drift and lose our beach again.”

Mirando said the Army Corps should fund the replacement of seven older jetties, where there is beach erosion.

“I have concerns they’re not going to hold up,” Mirando said. “We’re not going to cover the costs. We don’t have the finances to cover these.”

Long Beach Shoreline Protection Project

  • $130 million total cost
  • Came in $100 million under budget
  • 18 jetties rehabilitated to collect sand from Long Beach to Point Lookout. Four news ones completed last spring.