Long Beach Listens
In October of 2012, Superstorm Sandy severely damaged many homes and businesses throughout Long Island. One of the hardest hit areas was the City of Long Beach, located on a barrier island in the southwestern portion of Nassau County, which lies along the Atlantic Ocean. Although time has passed, businesses, homeowners, and government infrastructure continue to feel the effects of the storm. Sustainable Long Island began working closely with Long Beach in November of 2012 to coordinate recovery and revitalization efforts throughout the City.
In 2016, the City of Long Beach has begun work on the North Shore Bulkheading Project – an initiative to construct uniform bulkheading along Reynolds Channel. You can read more here.
In 2015, the City of Long Beach held the Public Information Meetings for the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and Comprehensive Plan Update. You can read more here and at www.longbeachlistens.com!
Long Beach Boardwalk Redevelopment
After the City’s 2.2 mile iconic boardwalk was badly damaged during the storm, Sustainable Long Island facilitated redevelopment focus groups (early 2013); gathering input from the community on how to rebuild the wooden structure many consider the focal point of their hometown.
Roughly 250 residents and business owners participated in the focus groups, and more than 2,350 people completed an online survey about the reconstruction of the Long Beach boardwalk, all of which culminated at a community-wide public meeting at City Hall. The meetings invited business owners and residents from all sections of the City to offer their input on the role the boardwalk plays in everyday life and ideas on how to rebuild it. Values the participants in the surveys and focus groups ranked most frequently as the top priorities in boardwalk reconstruction were durability and resistance to future storms. Other priorities included protection of the environment, public safety and quality of life, as well as safety and comfort for runners, cyclists, walkers and others who exercise.
With Sustainable Long Island’s assistance and for the first time since the storm hit, the Long Beach community had its voice heard. Community input was incorporated as the City planned for the $44.2 million resurrection of the new boardwalk, completed in the fall of 2013.
In the summer of 2014 Sustainable Long Island facilitated community participation meetings as part of Phase II of the Boardwalk Redevelopment, in which members of the public explored the possibility of adding more features to the boardwalk in an effort to make it more of a destination. Adding more attractions will not only benefit residents, but also help draw more visitors and drive traffic to local businesses, especially during the notoriously slow winter months.
At the meetings, many attendees suggested adding shaded areas with seating and tables for games, like checkers and chess, as well as artwork along the boardwalk. Many said they wanted bike rentals to return to the area, and to have permanent food concessions, bathrooms and showers again.
Some residents envisioned a pier with restaurants, solar panel charging stations, and an amphitheater. Residents also wanted to make sure local businesses would be involved in all of these new efforts, not alienated by new businesses coming in.
Five Point Plan
The City was also looking to bolster its small business sector recovery and prevent closure of local businesses as part of the recovery efforts; preserve jobs and employment; encourage tourism; and ultimately create a more economically vibrant community for all Long Beach residents. Knowing this, Sustainable Long Island advanced its work with the City by focusing on five key areas, including:
- Strengthening the tourism sector of the local economy, a major revenue source for the City, through the creation of a marketing campaign in conjunction with the City’s Local Development Corporation.
- Assisting the community’s significant Hispanic population that was devastated by the storm to develop new job skills to replace jobs lost and help deal with the psychological after-effects of the storm that are afflicting this underserved population.
- Helping businesses recover through business development forums, surveys, and temporary office space.
- Improving access to healthy foods by the creation of two community gardens.
- Developing a Post-Disaster Economic Recovery Internship program for college students interested in post-disaster recovery economic and environmental initiatives, and community outreach and engagement.
New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program
Throughout late 2013 and early 2014, Sustainable Long Island worked as part of a consultant team for the Long Beach New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program, providing planning and public engagement services to Long Beach.
The New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program was established to provide additional rebuilding and revitalization assistance to communities severely damaged by Hurricanes Sandy and Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. To facilitate community redevelopment planning and the resilience of communities, the State allocated millions of dollars for planning in the most affected communities.
Sustainable Long Island, along with the URS Corporation, The LiRo Group, Aim Development, and Planning4Places, facilitated community input and public meetings, and provided planning and outreach services to ensure everyone involved had a voice. During this process, Sustainable Long Island has held countless planning committee meetings and public engagement meetings in Long Beach (as well as three other Community Reconstruction areas – Lido Beach/Point Lookout; Oceanside/Island Park/Barnum Island/Harbor Isle; and Atlantic Beach/East Atlantic Beach/Atlantic Beach Estates. During the course of the process, community members had the opportunity to learn about the Community Reconstruction Program, create a community vision statement for the future, and guide development of a plan designed to make their communities more resilient to future storms and natural disasters.
Long Beach Comeback Crew
Most recently, Sustainable Long Island has been facilitating volunteer efforts with the “Long Beach Comeback Crew.” Sustainable Long Island, in partnership with the City of Long Beach and The Long Island Volunteer Center, brought together nearly 150 volunteers at Long Beach’s Magnolia Senior Center in the summer of 2013 and in Sherman Brown Park in the summer of 2014 to construct community gardens for City residents, providing access to fresh produce, opportunities for outdoor activities, and a place to come together.
Sustainable Long Island has also facilitated numerous clean-up events within the City, where volunteers have spent time cleaning up debris along the bay, restoring dunes at the beach, and engaging in community beautification projects, such as landscape and design efforts.
We recently worked with volunteers from TD Bank and the City of Long Beach’s Department of Public Works to plant 31 trees along JJ Evans Blvd in the North Park community. Read more here…