Work to reconstruct the Rockaway Beach boardwalk since it was destroyed over a year ago has still not begun, and could now be delayed by another three years. Officials say that construction crews will have to halt work for months at a time as endangered piping plovers nest along the beach. Because fewer than 2,000 pairs of the birds remain in the Atlantic area, workers are taking great pains not to disturb them during their mating season.
Currently, the Piping plovers, first federally designated as endangered in 1986, have taken roost in nests between 45th and Beach 56th Streets. As long as the birds are there, officials say that construction on nearly three miles of the boardwalk will be delayed from April to September. Aside from this one section, the hold on work will affect other phases of the project from Beach 73rd Street to Beach 19th Street in Far Rockaway.
On the bright side, last week, the community board finally approved the Rockaway Beach boardwalk designs. The boardwalk will feature the word “ROCKAWAY” spelled out Hollywood-style in massive lettering that can be seen from the air, as well as a designated bike lane. While the design has now been finalized, the completion date is anyone’s guess with officials last saying the project would be finished Memorial Day 2017 before this new delay.
The first phase of rebuilding from Beach 86th Street to Beach 97th Street will start this spring and should be ready to open by Memorial Day 2015. When it’s finally completed, the new boardwalk will be 40-feet-wide and elevated above 7 feet (at certain places) higher to match the FEMA 100-year flood level.
Images © NYC Parks Department