ACTION ALERT: Demand Dredging Of Sheepshead Bay!

Army Corps of Engineers officials presented the plans for restoring Plumb Beach and solving long-term erosion issues at a hearing last Thursday, and the good news is that everyone appears to be on the same page: residents want the most extreme steps taken – including the construction of groins and breakwaters – and the Army Corps and the city seem willing to comply.

But the protection of the Belt Parkway and restoration of Plumb Beach are only two pieces out of a three-part problem residents are clamoring about. To finish the job, the Army Corps also needs to dredge the mouth of Sheepshead Bay.

(A printable comment sheet to request dredging from the Army Corps of Engineers is available at the end of this post. The form needs to be mailed or faxed by March 4, 2011.)

“We have been fighting to save the beach, to save the Belt Parkway and to save the Bay for more than 10 years,” said Sheepshead Bay Plumb Beach Civic President Kathy Flynn. “All of it is the same problem, the sand from the beach is filling in the channels of the Bay.”

Community members all agreed that the work the Army Corps is planning is a major improvement and they have no desire to block the project, but they’re urging officials to take on the final part of the problem while construction is already being done in the area, which might reduce long-term costs.

But according to Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo, costs are indeed what’s on the minds of those in charge.

“The Army Corps says because it’s not a revenue-generating navigational lane, they will not do it,” Scavo told the SB/PB Civic members during their meeting last night. She added that it’s largely a financial issue. Current plans call for sand to be brought in from two existing dredging projects – Ambrose Channel and Rockaway Inlet Channel – at a lower cost of about $6 per square yard of sand. That’s compared to starting a new dredging project would cost at least $1 million, she said.

And though the government may not feel the bay is “revenue generating,” numerous businesses and scores of jobs depend on the ability of boats to enter and exit Sheepshead Bay marina. The city’s attempt to neglect the Bay could have major repercussions on the local economy.

“We have no rights for anything,” said Flynn. “They’ll collect rents for the boats going out, but they won’t provide the channels for them to get out of the Bay.”

That’s why Scavo, Flynn and local activists are urging residents and business owners to use the Army Corps of Engineers’ project comment sheets to advocate for dredging while they’re undergoing the Plumb Beach project. The only problem is that the comment forms should be mailed by March 4. The Corps is also accepting the comment forms by fax at (212) 264-5779.

“Those comment sheets are the most important thing in the world,” Scavo said.

Please print and fill out the below comment sheet, requesting that the project expand its scope to include dredging the mouth of Sheepshead Bay.

Army Corps Plumb Beach Project Comment Form