Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, Commanding General and Chief of Engineers recently visited New York District to review current projects, thank District employees for their continuing service, learn more about a critical upcoming emergency maintenance dredging project and present one of the District employees with a prestigious award.
Semonite spent time in East Rockaway, which is about to undergo an emergency dredging effort to use dredged sand to re-nourish and restore Rockaway beach between Beach 92nd Street and Beach 103rd Street. USACE is expected to remove approximately, 300,000 cubic yards of sand from the inlet and place it between Beach 92nd and Beach 103rd Streets to replace lost sand due to heavy erosion after last March’s back-to-back nor’easters. Maintenance dredging of East Rockaway Inlet is expected to begin in spring 2019.
At the old U.S. Coast Guard Station at Gilgo Beach, Semonite also presented District employees, Edward Wrocenski, project manager, operations division and Conrad Lewis, quality assurance representative, operations division, with Commander’s Coins for their outstanding work involving executing the emergency dredging contract to restore the Feeder Beach and protect Ocean Parkway—a critical piece of infrastructure that serves as a hurricane evacuation route.
After touring some of the District’s flood risk reduction projects, Semonite visited Caven Point Marine terminal, Jersey City, N.J. This facility recently opened after its predecessor was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. The new building is a two-story, 47,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility with many unique features, making it substantially more resilient to damage and flooding from severe storms.
Some modern components of the new main building include: Wind Turbines, a dual-purpose training room, a new boat house and launch, as well as an updated Water Quality & Soils Laboratory. Caven Point is home to the District’s fleet of working vessels, Physical Support Branch, Survey Section and Metro Area West, Construction Division, where nearly 100 District employees work on a daily basis. One of those employees is Mr. William Lyness, marine superintendent, Caven Point. Semonite presented Mr. Lyness with USACE’s Operations and Maintenance 2018 Castle Award for his outstanding service as the Marine Superintendent and District Dive Coordinator for marine operations at New York District.
This national level award is one of the most prestigious in the Corps because it honors an outstanding Wage Grade, Floating Plant or other Non-GS Series employee who exemplifies superior public service and professionalism in support of the USACE Operations and Maintenance Program and our vital Civil Works infrastructure. Each year, USACE Headquarters solicits a single nomination from each Division, meaning the individuals are considered the best of the best.
Mr. Lyness supervises 30 vessel Masters, Marine Engineers, Deckhands, Small Boat Operators and others serving on 10 vessels engaged in critical river and harbor operations in the New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary complex. Mr. Lyness is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and began his career with USACE in 1998, advancing from survey vessel operator to his position today.
His work requires ongoing coordination with multiple agency stakeholders such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the New York Fire and Police departments, National Transportation Safety Board and others. Mr. Lyness leads an exemplary vessel inspection and maintenance program with six (6) towing and drift collection vessels currently holding USCG issued Certificates Of Inspection. In addition to more routine work, Mr. Lyness has been instrumental in the USACE response to several serious marine incidents, including the “Flight 1549, Miracle on the Hudson” (2009) and, in March 2018, the recovery of a sightseeing helicopter that crashed into the East River off Manhattan.
Semonite also spent time with many of the District employees at Caven Point, thanking them for their service and getting a first-hand look at the new facility and all it has to offer.