May 15, 2014
Dear Secretary Jewell:
On behalf of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, we are writing in support of the National Park Service's request for funding to support the proposed sand replacement project at Jacob Riis Park, located within the Jamaica Bay Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area.
Given the existing USACE contract for sand placement along the adjacent parklands at Rockaway Beach which has commenced, the Conservancy supports the efforts of the National Park Service to extend this replenishment westward to include Riis Beach at the end of this project, taking advantage of the existing work schedule and contractor. Riis Beach was heavily impacted by 2012's Hurricane Sandy and returning the beach to its pre-Sandy condition, as the adjacent city beach will be, is essential to true recovery of the area. This restoration will require an estimated 200,000 cubic yards of sand. Riis Beach represents not only a major cultural asset for the National Park Service in the area, but also one of the most heavily visited sites within Gateway National Recreation Area. Given the Conservancy's mission of supporting the parklands in and around Jamaica Bay, increasing visitorship, preserving natural and cultural resources, and expanding economic benefits to local communities, we feel the replenishment of Riis Beach is a vital part of the overall post-Sandy restoration efforts for the park and the neighboring communities.
Based on the current schedule for sand replenishment elsewhere in the Rockaways, we anticipate that the contractor would be able to deliver the sand by August; this could be delivered to a specific area of the beach for distribution across the beach following the summer season so that the majority of the beach area can remain open. If funding cannot be found to modify the Army Corps contract for this window, however, another opportunity will not arise for more than three years, at which point Sandy recovery funds will no longer be available. We are strongly in support of completing the sand replenishment at Riis Beach as soon as possible, and request your help in securing the requested $5 million to realize this project.
This project would represent a small down payment on what is needed for shore protection for the community. The NYC Parks Department, together with the US Army Corps of Engineers, has invested in shoreline protection. The National Park Service must work in tandem with the Army Corps and NYC Parks for the protection of the community. This collaborative approach was envisioned by the 2012 Department of the Interior and New York City cooperative agreement. We look forward to working with you for the benefit of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks community.