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New sand for Brooklyn’s beaches

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The Army is going to be storming the beaches of Southern Brooklyn.

That is, the Army Corps of Engineers will rebuilding the coastline of Brighton Beach and Coney Island with $7.2-million worth of brand new, tax-payer-funded sand to replace the beaches washed away by superstorm Sandy.

Beginning sometime around Labor Day, contractors will start dredging up sand from the bottom of Rockaway Inlet and dumping it along Brooklyn’s southernmost coast.

The project is designed to protect residents and businesses in Coney Island and Brighton Beach — as well as vital infrastructure like the Belt Parkway — from the ravages of future storms and tidal surges, but not even the Army can prevent Brooklynites from using the expanded beachfront for a little Summer fun, said Corps spokesman Chris Gardener.

“The purpose of the project is costal-storm risk reduction, although it obviously has a considerable recreational value,” he said.

Unlike most sandy stretches around the world, Coney Island and Brighton’s beaches are actually not the product of a million years worth of gradual deposits by gentle ocean currents, but rather a single year of dredging and dumping in the mid ‘90s that amassed 2.4 million cubic-yards of sand along the coast — enough to bury four football fields nearly 100 feet deep.

Following about two decade’s worth of erosion and storm damage, the Army has decided that its about time to restore Brooklyn’s favorite tanning spots to their glory days of the ‘90s, back when new episodes of “Friends” were airing on NBC and MTV still showed the occasional music video.

Hurricane Sandy, which stripped those beaches of about 272,000 cubic-yards of sandy beach front — or about 42 feet of sand on top of a single gridiron — was the proverbial final straw, inciting the Army Corp to revisit the project.

The extra sand made all the difference during Hurricane Sandy, according to Gardener, who said that, while there was certainly some flooding coming up from the south, most of the damage in Coney Island occurred from tidal surges coming from Coney Island Creek in the north.

“The community was several impacted during Sandy, but the project worked quite well, because most of the damage came from the creek,” Gardener said.

This year’s beach restoration will see about 600,000-cubic-yards of sand deposited along three-miles of uninterrupted shoreline, starting at W. 37th Street in Coney Island and ending at Corbin Place in Brighton Beach.

The Army said there will be “rolling closures” of 1,000-foot-wide sections of the beach to protect locals while the contractors are working along the shore front, although the majority of the beaches will remain open throughout the duration of the project.

The Boardwalk is expected to remain largely unaffected, although Gardener wouldn’t rule out the possibility that pedestrians may be warned away from certain beach-side ramps located adjacent to work zones.

“They may close off entrances to the beach, but the idea is to limit the impacts to recreation as much as possible,” he said.

Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz hailed the Army project as a welcome blast from the past and said he can’t wait to feel safe from the sea again.

“The beach will look the way it used to, and what’s even better is that it’ll protect us for the future,” said Cymbrowitz.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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