Howard Beach residents will soon see more than 70,000 cubic yards of sand trucked down Cross Bay Boulevard and stored in Spring Creek as part of an ongoing flood resiliency project, state and federal officials announced last Thursday.
The sand will be used as fill to restore a barrier — which was damaged during Superstorm Sandy — protecting Howard Beach residents from Jamaica Bay storm surges. Floodwater damaged more than 2,000 homes and businesses during Sandy.
“We can get it at no cost,” Patti Rafferty, a National Parks Service representative, told Community Board 10 members. “This is a great cost savings of about $5 million in sand, if we can get this material.”
The fill is being donated by the developer of the TWA Hotel at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the site of the landmarked TWA Flight Center terminal that’s being turned into a world-class hotel. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation told the Chronicle that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey told the agency there was surplus clean fill available from the hotel project, which was determined to be free of any toxins or chemicals.
“I have about 1,500 pages of chemical testing,” Rafferty said. “It’s been reviewed and approved as clean fill.”
About 680,000 cubic yards of sand will be needed for the Spring Creek restoration project — the amount being donated is 77,000 cubic yards. Truck drivers will bring the sand down Cross Bay Boulevard, then make a right on 165th Avenue before immediately going into Spring Creek Park and dumping the sand. The TWA developer will erect a fence around the material.
It will take four to six weeks to bring the sand to the park once a plan to safely do so is finalized.
“We’re working with the developer to get this to fruition,” Rafferty said.
The remaining needed sediment will be brought in over the water via barges.
Betty Braton, chairwoman of CB 10, and others, asked the NPS and DEC officials to ensure the trucks are not on Cross Bay during rush hour.
“We ask that you be conscious of those hours,” Braton said.
For Joann Ariola, president of the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association and a CB 10 member, the main concern is trucks possibly cutting through the traffic by going down side streets.
“We can’t have trucks coming down those residential blocks,” she said.
Braton told Ariola, “that’s an issue that’s already been addressed,” without elaborating.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) told the Chronicle he still has concerns about how the sand will be brought into the community.
“I have expressed concerns with the trucks along Cross Bay Boulevard, which has already experienced a lot of congestion,” Addabbo said.
Addabbo is also worried at the “cosmetics” of having a mound of dirt close to people’s homes.
Rafferty told the board the sand will not be stored in one pile, but rather spread throughout the project site.