Plumb luck

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Sandbags will be the only thing guarding the Belt Parkway from the raging waters at Plumb Beach for the next two years, says the head of a federally funded project that will put off building sturdier structures until January 2012.

“The sandbags will protect the Belt Parkway from the waves in the storm for the next two years, but they are only a temporary solution,” said Daniel Falt, who will manage a $100,000 study on how to improve the eroded shores.

But locals say that the city-installed sandbags are a flimsy barrier for the highway, which is only a few yards away from the beach. The sandbags don’t even protect the area from the daily constant pounding of the surf, which still spreads sand everywhere, including all over the bike path. Parts of the path are so debilitated, that some bicyclists have taken to riding on an exit ramp of the Belt Parkway to avoid it.

“I saw five of those sandbags in the water the day after the city installed them,” said Community Board 15 chairwoman Theresa Scavo, who has been clamoring to the city about Plumb Beach’s issues for the past year. “Two years is too long for this project because the Belt Parkway may not last through the winter.”

Falt said that it will take a team of 10 Army Corps of Engineers scientists about a year to complete a report on how to best replenish the beach and to protect the surrounding areas. Falt expects that the agency will replace the sandbags with jetties and some kind of wall to contain the beach, but says that the study would determine specific sizes and building materials. The agency will then spend most of 2011 working with the city and national governments to get their plan approved and to arrange for funding before construction can finally begin.

“There are a lot of steps along the way but we are really trying to get it as done as quick as we can,” Falt said.

The Army Corps study is a long time coming. Last year, after Hurricane Ida destroyed the more than 40 feet of buffer space between the beach and the Belt Parkway, local politicians started calling for a fix. Rep. Antony Weiner (D-Midwood) even said that the Belt Parkway could easily be destroyed in a future storm and asked the Army Corps to prepare for emergencies.

Updated 2:38 pm, October 19, 2011
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