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New York District Corps and City Officials Break Ground on Bronx Orchard Beach Project

By Kenneth Wells

On Oct. 29, 2010, representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers joined Rep. José Serrano, Rep. Joseph Crowley, New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Greene, District Manager Kenneth Kearns, Bronx Borough Commissioner, Hector M. Aponte, and Community Board 10 Chair Virginia Gallagher in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Orchard Beach Shoreline Protection Project.

Originally constructed by the City of New York in the 1930’s, Orchard Beach is a major draw for residents of the Bronx and its surrounding communities. Last year more than 1.4 million or close to 14,000 residents per day visited the beach. The beach’s last renourishment occurred in 1964.

Over the years the beach has lost a tremendous amount of sand due to tides, winds, waves and storms. The Corps project will help combat erosion at the beach by replacing lost sand, re-grading the south end of the shoreline, and repairing and extending the south jetty 350 feet to help inhibit erosion. It will also make the beach safer by relieving overcrowding and eliminating drop-off zones which represent potential drowning hazards.

“This project represents an outstanding investment of public dollars to provide the great people of the Bronx with a first-class recreational beach in these tough economic times,” said Col. John R. Boulé, commander, New York District. “We’re excited to be partnering with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to restore Orchard Beach.”

Boulé also pointed out that this project is the culmination of more than a decade’s worth of work and made it a point to thank the project delivery team including, Anthony Ciorra, Frank Verga, David Yang, Diane Rahoy, Robert Smith, Peter Womack and Ellen Simon. “I can’t say enough about the tireless work done by district personnel on this project,” he said. “Truly a big win for New York District.”
More than 250,000 cubic yards of sand will be used to restore the popular crescent-shaped beach.

“The people of the Bronx will soon have a restored, functional and expansive Orchard Beach, as it was envisioned by its creators decades ago, when it was called the Riviera of the Bronx,” said Serrano. “Working with NYC Parks, and the Corps of Engineers, we can now be sure that Orchard Beach will be restored to its former glory.”
Construction will have minimal impact on the environment because the construction window has been shaped so it occurs during the offseason, conforms to air emissions standards and doesn’t have a negative environmental impact on the winter flounder spawning season.

The plan is to dredge sand from Ambrose Channel, an area where the sand composition is similar to the original 1934 mixture brought in from the Rockaways and Sandy Hook, New Jersey. The material will be transported into Long Island Sound by a hopper dredge and delivered to the beach through 3,500 feet of submerged pipe, which will connect to a shore pipe for placement on the beach.

Although portions of the beach will be closed during construction, visitors will be able to view the sand replenishment work from the promenade, giving them a visual of precisely how their tax dollars are being used to produce quality work that will be beneficial to the community for years to come. Continued participation by the federal government and the City of New York, includes 50 years of periodic nourishment.

“Parks is pleased to partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to replenish sand and restore the shoreline at Orchard Beach, known as the Riviera of the Bronx,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “This WPA-era, man-made beach was last nourished with sand in 1964. We are grateful to the U.S. Army Corps, Congressman José Serrano and Congressman Crowley for their support.

“We applaud their commitment to join us in preserving and protecting Orchard Beach, and helping ensure that this treasured gem can continue to be enjoyed by future generations of New Yorkers.”

“This project represents an exciting first step to expand and replenish Orchard Beach’s shores - opening access to this popular beach and preserving it for generations to come,” said Crowley. “After years of severe erosion, Orchard Beach is in dire need of restoration to transform it back to the treasure it once was. Together, with NYC Parks and the Corps of Engineers, we will ensure Bronx residents have a beautiful beach right in their backyard that can be enjoyed for years to come.”

The Orchard Beach Shoreline Protection Project will cost $13 million: $7 million provided by the Corps of Engineers, and $6 million provided the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.

The contractor for this project is Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company. The project is scheduled to be completed before the beginning of the 2011 summer beach season.

THE AUTHOR: Kenneth Wells is a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District. This article was submitted on his behalf by JoAnne Castagna, Ed.D., Technical Writer/Editor

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