Legislative Dysfunction Under The Boardwalk
First it was the State Legislature in Albany. Then it was the County Legislature in Mineola.
Now, the dysfunction has spread to the Long Beach City Council, which voted last week -- unanimously, no less -- not to proceed with plans to protect the seashore of the barrier island on which this city by the sea is located. [SEE, Newsday, Long Beach Erosion Plan Nixed.]
The $98 million proposal ($7 million of which would have been borne by the City of Long Beach), promulgated by the Army Corps of Engineers, would have created a protective system of sand dunes some 15 feet above sea level, much of it situated under the boardwalk in Long Beach.
While some objected to the cost of the project, and others questioned the plan's efficacy, many of those who spoke before the City Council at a May 4th hearing objected on the grounds of aesthetics. Residents seemed concerned not about saving the beach, protecting property (and quite possibly, lives), and preserving the eco-system in the event of a major storm, but rather, the possible obstruction of their view. [We wonder what residents will think of their "view" if (or more likely, when) a major storm breaches the crumbling "groins," washes away the remaining beachfront, and sweeps boardwalk and seaside homes into the Atlantic?]
The Point Lookout Civic Association, saying that "Point Lookout is suffering from dire erosion, exposing our community to the impact of storms, high-energy waves and oceanside flooding," supported the Storm Damage Reduction Project. In light of the NO vote of the Long Beach City Council, the group will proceed independently. "Not to act is to act negligently," reads a post on the civic association's webpage urging residents to support the project.
Beach erosion, and the increasing threat of damaging storms -- including hurricanes -- are the realities that barrier island communities such as Long Beach will have to come to terms with, and hopefully sooner rather than later.
"In the history of our city," Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) told the City Council through a prepared statement urging the plan's adoption, "this is probably the most important decision our City Council will make... There are no other safe options. We must rise above politics and do what is right for our community."
"To be foretold is to be forewarned," goes the old adage. There's another saying that comes to mind here: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
In the wake of the Long Beach City Council's apparent failure to act responsibly in adopting the Storm Damage Reduction Project, and in making the protection of our shoreline a priority, we can only hope what would surely be against all hope, that the day of reckoning does not come, and no one will have to say, "I told you so!"
Knowing that, at some point in time, that horrific storm will make landfall along Long Island's south shore, it does not take prophetic pause to predict that, like Albany's decline into dysfunction, and Mineola's slide toward irrelevancy, the failure of the Long Beach City Council to act responsibly and prudently well in advance of the high waters, particularly in the absence of any alternative prophylactic measures, may well be that legislative body's undoing.
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Click HERE to read the Long Beach Herald story, City Unanimously Rejects Beach Project.