The US Army is invading Plumb Beach this summer — to make the world safe for the Belt Parkway.
The Army Corps of Engineers announced their plan to begin Phase II of its storm-risk-reduction work at Plumb Beach in July, to protect the nearby Belt Parkway from being undermined by erosion. The work will require the Corps to close the park’s beach and parking lot, sometime in April as well as create a detour for the bike path.
Phase II of the Corps’s project involves constructing two stone groins — rock walls similar to jetties, but used to prevent erosion rather than aid navigation — stretching out into the water from either end of the beach. Additionally, a stone breakwater will be built further off the coast parallel to the beach, and vegetation will be planted on the surrounding dunes to anchor the sand. Rounding out Phase II will be a sand fence along the landward side of the beach to prevent sand from blowing across the Belt.
The Army Corps’s contractors, Village Dock Inc., will hold off until July to begin construction in order to comply with environmental restrictions, although they won’t remain idle waiting for Summer — workers are expected to begin site preparation, stockpiling stones, preparing plant vegetation, and installing the sand fence sometime in April.
Though the work may appear start and stop periodically, the Corps said the parking lot and beach will remain closed until Phase II is completed sometime in December, to allow the vegetation they’ll be planting along the dunes to take root.
The bike lane will be detoured through the western half of the parking lot, although it will stay connected on both ends and remain open throughout the project.
Locals aren’t quite sure why the Army is bothering to reroute the bike lane, however, considering it was largely obliterated in a 2009 nor’easter — and Sandy wiped it out.
“As far as detouring away from the bike lane, it’s not open right now anyway, so it shouldn’t cause anyone much trouble,” said Kathleen Flynn, president of the Plumb Beach Civic Association.
In regards to the impending beach and parking lot closures, those inconveniences pale in the face of losing the Belt Parkway, which would have already gone the way of Atlantis if the Army hadn’t beat Sandy to the punch and heaped loads of sand onto the beach in 2012 for Phase I of their storm-risk-reduction project, according to Sheepshead Bay local and Bay Improvement Group member Tom Scalese.
“It’s been a horror for several years,” said Scalese. “We’ve been complaining about erosion on the beach even before Sandy, and if they hadn’t built up the beach last year, the parkway would be underwater already.”
“Anybody that has any problems shouldn’t even think about it,” Scalese added. “You’ve gotta think about the community and what this work will do for it.” Bikers may not be missing much, but windsurfers will have to take one for the team, said Flynn.
The beach has become a popular hub for windsurfers in the warm season, who will miss out on the open, windy waters once the beach is closed.
“The windsurfers may be upset, though,” said Flynn. “You see them out there everyday, all day long.”Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cn