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Army Corps of Engineers to begin sand replenishment project at Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways

Apr. 18, 2023 By Bill Parry

With the $47.5 million rehabilitation project underway at the Jacob Riis Bathhouse in the Rockaways, the National Parks Service has authorized placement of approximately 360,000 cubic yards of sand along 5,000 feet of shorefront in front of the iconic structure.

Last year, sections of the beach at Jacob Riis Park were closed due to beach erosion, which created unsafe conditions and exposed deteriorated wooden groins, rockwork and other structures. The exposed structures were not always visible, especially at high tide, and were dangerous to swimmers. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will improve these unsafe conditions with a sand replenishment project beginning at the western end of the beach and progress east toward the bathhouse.

The $47.5 million rehabilitation at the Riis Bathhouse will restore the iconic structure. (Photo by Sylvester Zawadzki)

“I think the sand replenishment at Riis Park is long overdue,” Councilwoman Joann Ariola said. “We’ve seen the water coming up over the boardwalk on some days in recent years, and that’s something that should have never happened. I look forward to the replenishment getting underway quickly and smoothly so that we can have fully functional beaches for our residents and visitors to enjoy.”

Work will progress incrementally to protect the piper plovers who nest at Fort Tilden beach at the western side of Riis Park. (Courtesy of NYC Plover Project)

The west-east sand placement direction is necessary to protect piping plovers, a federally threatened species protected under the Endangered Species Act, that nest at Fort Tilden Beach on the western side of the beach at Jacob Riis Park. It is expected that the sand placement will be completed by mid-June and that all equipment will be off the beach by June 30.

“I would have liked to see this project wrap up before the summer season began, but as long as they keep their timeline to the June 30 end date that we’ve been told, we will still be able to enjoy the majority of the summer without closures,” Ariola said.

While lifeguards will be on duty at Jacob Riis Park from Memorial Day through Labor Day, short-term closures of the beach will occur to ensure visitor safety during sand placement operations. Bays 3-5 will remain closed until the sand placement has been completed. The Jacob Riis Park boardwalk will remain open.

Meanwhile, the large-scale preservation project to restore the 1932 Art Deco Riis Bathhouse to its former glory will include 28 hotel rooms, a catering hall and multiple event spaces.

In the building’s outdoor courtyard, there will be a new pool and lounge area in addition to a range of amenities for the public, including a rooftop restaurant, ground-floor eateries, a casual beachfront bar and retailers stocking beach supplies like sunblock and towels.

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