Today’s news:

Millions to safeguard Sea Gate beaches - Public money to be poured into protecting private Brooklyn enclave

Coney Island’s gated community, Sea Gate, will get $2.4 million in public funds this year to keep its private beachfront from further erosion thanks to Rep. Jerrold Nadler. The federal lawmaker also succeeded in getting another $8.5 million allocated for the project in President Bush’s proposed 2008 budget. The money will go toward constructing “T-groins,” or rock jetties, along the beaches of Sea Gate. “Beach erosion in Sea Gate has progressed to the point where homes are in danger of literally sliding into the sea,” said Nadler. “I’m gratified that Congress and the administration are wise enough – finally — to notice that not everything happening on the Coney Island waterfront is fun and games. The Sea Gate community is in real danger from erosion, and this funding will go a long way toward solving the problem,” Nadler said. Problems with beach erosion in the Coney Island area dates back decades, according to Nadler spokesperson Rob Gottheim. After studying the issue in the early 1990s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided a “terminal-groin” was need at West 37th Street – the eastern border of Sea Gate, said Gottheim. That “T-groin” was constructed between 1994 and 1996. But both Sea Gate Association President Pinny Dimbitzer and Ida Sanoff, a Brighton Beach resident and chair of the Natural Resources Protective Association of New York recall the past differently. Originally, the “T-groin” was supposed to be placed on the westernmost point of the private community, but Sea Gate property owners opted against it because that would mean the beaches would become public, they contend. Dimbitzer said that at the time of construction, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed a deal with Sea Gate that the jetty would not cause any further erosion of Sea Gate beaches. There was a 50-year agreement that if Sea Gate lost any sand because of the “T-groin,” the Army Corps of Engineers would replenish it, said Dimbitzer. Dimbitzer said that, in reality, that jetty did damage not only Sea Gate beaches, but a lot of sand is filling up in Sea Gate sewers and Gravesend Bay, making the water shallower, and thus the shipping lanes narrower. It was the loss of sand which destroyed a bulkhead and caused a Sea Gate home to wash away in the hurricane of 1991, he said. “We pray and hope we don’t have to bad a winter and lose any more beach, because if we do we’re going to have problems,” said Dimbitzer. But Sanoff said the focus needs to be on modifying the existing West 37th Street “T-groin.” Doing that is a cheaper alternative and these problems didn’t exist before the “T-groin” was built, she said. “Currently, there is public access on the bay side of Sea Gate, and when the project is done, they [Army Corps of Engineers] will take some of that sand from the bay side and move it to the ocean side of Sea Gate, and the public access will be lost to the westernmost tip of the peninsula,” she added. Sanoff said she does sympathize with Sea Gate residents and understands something needs to be done. “I have the highest regard for Congressman Nadler and have no idea what his motives are, but the end result is that a private beach will be replenished with public funds. And additional structures will be placed there to keep the sand in place,” she said.

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