22 Aug 2014
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City Council to Vote on Boardwalk Consulting Firm

Ideas begin to materialize for stronger walkway.

City Council to Vote on Boardwalk Consulting Firm
Story by Joley Welkowitz and Joseph Kellard.

As residents debate the best way to rebuild the battered Long Beach boardwalk, the City Council will vote Tuesday on a proposed contract with a Syosset-based engineering consulting firm, LiRo Engineers Inc., to prepare plans for its reconstruction.
 
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City officials on Jan 4 received five bids for engineering consulting services to prepare detailed plans and specifications to rebuild the boardwalk, from design schematics to inspection services, and interviewed three of the proposers, according to the Jan. 22 resolution. LiRo Engineers Inc. is the “most qualified,” having provided its services for projects such as the post-9/11 rebuilding of lower Manhattan and the Roosevelt Island Tramway, the resolution states.  

A legislative memo accompanying the item notes that LiRo Engineers Inc., “will be responsible for the researching and presenting of the best practice options for the design and materials of the boardwalk, as well as overseeing the eventual construction process, including the solicitation of public input and assisting in the advertisement of the bid and oversight of the bid process in advance of the management of the construction of the new boardwalk.”

The cost of the contract is $565,307, and the city will request funding through grant monies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the resolution states.  

Meanwhile, building a new boardwalk has become a hot topic of debate among residents, as work crews demolish the boardwalk, a project that officially started following a ceremony commemorating the iconic wooden walkway at Grand Boulevard on Jan. 5.

One resident in attendance, Steve Furair, told Patch that he believes the new structure needs to consist of different materials. “As much as I want a wooden boardwalk, concrete would be the safest and may make the most sense,” he said.

But there are residents such as Noreen Duffy, who is adamant that the city stick with a wooden boardwalk. “It’s the ocean, it’s the beach, and wood comes from the earth and it goes with the whole thing,” she said.

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One option used on boardwalks along the East Coast is Ipe (pronounced EE-pay), a wood harvested from the Amazon. Ipe is deemed more durable than wood found in the United States, but controversy surrounds its use.

According to environmental groups, the wood in the Amazon has not been replaced as fast as it has been cut down, and organizations such as Rainforest Relief have put pressure on municipalities to stop its use in areas such as Coney Island.

Matthew Chartrand, president of Ironworkers Local 361, presented another alternative to wood at the City Council meeting on Jan 8. Chartrand proposed that structural precast concrete — a mix of concrete and rebar (steel reinforced bars) — is the answer to Long Beach’s dilemma.

“The top is grooved to look like wood with epoxy paint, so it is more pleasing to the eye,” Chartrand said.  

Ironworkers Local 361 repaired sections of the Coney Island boardwalk between 2010 and 2012 with the proposed concrete and replaced sections that survived the October storm, Chartrand told the council. Structural precast concrete also gives more than regular concrete and the epoxy paint gives it some elasticity, so structural precast is easier to walk on, he continued.

“A plus of structural precast is that it is relatively maintenance free,“ Chartrand said.

The concrete needs maintenance about every 10 years, compared to wood, which usually needs maintenance much sooner, sometimes after one year. The weight of the proposed concrete boardwalk alone keeps it held down better than wood and therefore does not need any type of barrier, he said.

“You want to build a boardwalk to withstand the biggest storm that could possibly come in 100 years,” he said. “I think structural precast concrete can do that.”

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