Bath Beachers: Gird us against another storm surge

Residents of Bensonhurst and Bath Beach, and their local leaders, say it’s high time they get their own sea wall before the next major storm brings another high tide over the Belt Parkway.

Community Board 11 is asking the city to extend Bay Ridge’s protective shoreline barrier — a concrete bulwark along the Shore Road Promenade stretching from Bay 8th Street to the Verrazano Bridge — all the way to Bay Parkway to shelter the Belt from a future storm surge.

District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia said the flooding of the thoroughfare during Hurricane Sandy slowed the flow of vital services when they were needed most. She contends that flooding could have been avoided if the Bath Beach section of the promenade had more than a railing to hold back the sea.

“The Belt Parkway was underwater and ambulances and fire trucks weren’t able to get through there,” Elias-Pavia said, stressing how important the sea wall is to the neighborhood. “During a disaster, the Belt needs to serve emergency vehicles. For our community it’s a number-one priority.”

Longtime resident Maria Kenig agreed, arguing that the city should fortify the shoreline against the threat of another superstorm.

“After the hurricane, this was a disaster area,” said Kenig, pointing at the damaged promenade and highway. “It should be protected if there’s another one.”

But the Parks Department said there’s a big barrier in the way of a new barrier — a $20 million price tag.

“We do not have that funding,” a city spokesperson said, adding that an elected official would have to allocate the money.

Neighborhood pols said they support raising the wall, but don’t have the funds to pay for it. Councilman Vincent Gentile — whose new district will include the shoreline this fall — said he would be willing to chip in some of the money, and state Sen. Marty Golden’s office said that the senator has been lobbying the federal government for the money, since it is already repairing the storm-struck Bay Ridge wall.

“We have been requesting the funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and we did a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers,” said Golden spokesman Ray Riley.

But Congressman Michael Grimm spokeswoman Carol Danko said she did not believe the federal funding designated to Sandy recovery could be used to extend the Bar Ridge barrier, since it can only finance repair and replacement, not new construction.

“That money is only for rebuilding what was damaged, not for building something new,” Danko said, adding that obtaining new funding for the wall would be difficult with the ban on Congressional earmarks.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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