Why is the Corps of Engineers doing beach work in a private community?
Recently there has been confusion regarding the Corps of Engineers plans to place sand and carry out other construction activities in the private community of Sea Gate immediately west of Coney Island. Some have voiced concerns that the Corps should not be doing work on a beach that is not open to the public, but it is important to understand that the upcoming work in Sea Gate is an important part of the larger Coney Island coastal storm risk reduction project, which has provided storm risk reduction and public recreational benefits since 1995.
So put simply, the reason the upcoming Corps of Engineers Sea Gate work will not lead to the Sea Gate beach becoming a public beach is that the work is primarily benefitting the original Coney Island coastal storm risk reduction project that was first constructed in the 1990s. That work in the 1990s also included sand placement in Sea Gate west of the W. 37th Street groin for the same reasons we are placing sand again in the same area. The sand placed west of the W. 37th Street groin in Sea Gate is important to ensure the continued integrity of the W. 37th Street groin at the end of the public beach (to reduce the risk of a 'flanking' condition where severe erosion on one side of the groin may lead to erosion and flooding around the landward end of the groin or may undermine the groin itself) and to ensure that the project maintains a minimum shoreline condition west of the W. 37th Street groin equal to its pre-project condition. It’s important that the Coney Island project, while providing tremendous benefit east of the W. 37th Street groin, does not negatively impact the community not included in the main project, be it private or public. That, along with the need to prevent a flanking condition, are both important reasons to keep the shoreline west of the groin similar to at least its pre-project condition.
While the Sea Gate work will definitely provide some coastal storm risk benefits to the Sea Gate community, it will not be of the size and scope of the public beach originally constructed to the east of the W. 37th Street groin and the primary benefit of completing this important portion of the Coney Island project is reinforcing the integrity of the W. 37th Street groin which anchors the public beach. The upcoming Sea Gate work will also help to manage issues of sand placed at Sea Gate migrating to the bayside of Coney Island which has created issues both in Gravesend Bay and on city streets.
The images below show pre-construction and post-construction aerial views of the Sea Gate work area being referenced. The first one is from 1993, which shows before the Coney Island project, and the second one is from 1995, which shows after the initial Coney Island coastal storm risk reduction project construction.
|1993, Pre-Construction: Aerial view of the Sea Gate area from 1993, prior to the initial construction of the Coney Island Coastal Storm Risk Reduction Project that is still in place. This image gives an idea of the pre-project condition of the eroded shoreline at Sea Gate, which the project constructed by the Corps should not worsen.
||1995, Post-Construction: Aerial view of the Sea Gate area from 1995, after the initial construction of the Coney Island Coastal Storm Risk Reduction Project that is still in place. This image gives an idea of the work the Corps of Engineers did at Sea Gate during the initial project, including the placement of sand to reduce the risk of flanking at the newly constructed W. 37 Street groin that is also visible separating the public beach from the private side.
|Present Day: Aerial view of the Sea Gate area from November 2012, immediately after Hurricane Sandy. This image helps gives a more current view of the situation at Sea Gate, including the erosion along the shoreline west of the W. 37th Street groin as well as the build up of sand on the Gravesend Bay side of the community. The sand placement and T-groin construction work the Corps of Engineers will be doing in Sea Gate will provide the following benefits:
- Address the erosion west of the W. 37th Street groin
- Reduce the risk of flanking at the W. 37th Street groin
- Manage the movement of the sediment being placed so that it does not create issues on the Gravesend Bay side in the future
- Reduce the need for periodic renourishment (sand placements) west of the 37th St. groin in the future, which helps reduce the long-term costs of the project
As is visible in the images above, there was very little beach at Sea Gate before the initial Coney Island construction. The beach the Corps of Engineers built west of the W. 37th Street groin during the original construction (again, to prevent a flanking condition at the groin and to avoid worsening the previously existing Sea Gate shoreline condition) has eroded over the years and the Corps is going to fix that problem while also reducing the probability of that problem recurring in the future through also constructing the T-groins in the upcoming Sea Gate work. The T-groin approach will help manage sediment movement and reduce erosion west of the groin and thus reduce the need for periodic renourishment (sand placements) west of the 37th Street groin in the future, which helps reduce the long-term costs of the project. The T-groins will also help reduce the build-up of sediment on the Gravesend Bay side of the peninsula as well.
The Sea Gate work, including the construction of new T-groins, has been in development for the past several years and we expect to award the construction contract for the Sea Gate work later this year or in early 2014. Coordination work is currently ongoing and the project is being updated to incorporate data from Hurricane Sandy as well as incorporate the storm’s impacts to the project area.
If you have any further questions regarding the Corps of Engineers upcoming activities in Sea Gate or regarding the Corps of Engineers and Coney Island, please feel free to contact the public affairs office at 917-790-8007 or you can e-mail questions to CENAN-PA@usace.army.mil.
For more information regarding the near-term restoration work at Coney Island to repair and restore the previously constructed project after Hurricane Sandy, please visit our near-term restoration page here.
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