What do you folks think of the ‘Channels along boulevards of Long Beach to prevent flooding’ idea?

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(Photo Credit: Interboro Partners)

Newsday recently ran an editorial regarding a competition being run by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (Read: Editorial: Governments must work together to survive new storms). The contest: come up with preventive measures to protect the south shore of Long Island from future Sandy-like storms. While the editorial talks about issues of ‘inter-municipal cooperation’, it highlights one proposal by Interboro Partners, who wants to convert many of the north/south medians on the boulevards in Long Beach into channels. Quoted from the Interboro Partners facebook group:

“[It’s] A system of “straws” built along north / south streets in Long Beach could help drain the bay during storms and tidal surges. Instead of covering them in a culvert, we propose to create an open channel that can be used as a new public space–a new community spine–that can be adapted to suit the needs of each block it passes through.”

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What do you folks think of this proposal?

Me? It’s a really interesting concept. We had that crazy rain storm last spring which flooded the boulevards and Park Avenue. Perhaps a system like this could have helped? Although I wonder… how does this work when the tide is high? I’m no engineer, but I always felt something useful could be made with those boulevard medians. I really do like this concept and love this type of thinking outside the box.

Unlike New Jersey, we are not stronger than the storm. We tend to forgot how we live on a barrier island, which sole purpose is to really protect the mainland. But alas… we love Long Beach and refuse to move out. That means something needs to be done. Status quo is not good. I feel like I read somehow how our island used to have natural channels from ocean to bay going through already – around Neptune Blvd area…(please correct me if I’m wrong on that). Perhaps this concept is a really all what we need?

While I do love the open space look those medians offer, I’m not a bit fan of the fields of dog poop. Those medians aren’t very green either…. grass isn’t exactly eco-friendly, especially when you don’t use native grass. If this proposal never goes though, I would love for something to happen to those medians – perhaps just turn them into dense mini-forests, or dare I mention my parking proposal from 2011 which everybody (including myself) hated:  Is it time to kiss those grass medians goodbye? (Open Space vs Parking).

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9 thoughts on “What do you folks think of the ‘Channels along boulevards of Long Beach to prevent flooding’ idea?”

  1. Anthony, we have a man made barrier island. There were four islands, and therefore five inlets before the filling and dredging occurred to make Long Beach a single barrier island. Those inlets supported tidal currents, they also benefited our aquatic shellfish ecosystems. I know it’s pure speculation, but those channels could naturally assist in the filtration of our water.

    I just want to add, something that stuck out at me in your blog.
    It’s good and all to address dog poop, but we have an ecosystem with other animals besides dogs. There are; raccoons, possums, rats, and of course the exotic stray cats which also defecate, because that’s where nature intended them to defecate. Of course dog owners must be responsible and throw away their dog’s BM’s.

    But BM’s are a natural thing in this eco-system none-the-less, just like hurricanes are natural here. Imagine if these channels had man made oyster reefs which filtered our waterways? A single oyster filters 50 gallons of water a day. http://www.cbf.org/about-the-bay/more-than-just-the-bay/creatures-of-the-chesapeake/eastern-oyster

  2. Thanks for the history of the island. But it’s still considered a barrier, whether man made or not, right? Would you know locations of where those inlets were? and what do you think of this proposal?

    regarding dog poop, I agree it’s part of the eco system. I actually don’t mind so much when it’s on grass.. it’s when it’s in the middle of the sidewalk that gets to me.

  3. Looks like an open drainage sluice, like what runs through the middle of Penninsula Blvd. Are they inverted towards the bay or do they connect the bay to the ocean?

    Who decided our sole purpose is to protect the mainland?

  4. This would be a garbage filled open sewer in no time. We cant maintain our current storm sewers so how can we maintain this? Also, the volume of water they could hold would do nothing to stem the tide once it has gone over the bulkheads on the bayside. Look at the example of Penninsula Blvd or places where the have similar “drainage” canals in Island Park/East Rockaway. They are just plan nasty and little more than an open culvert that is choked with weeds and litter or a muddy flat at low tide.

  5. The concept is interesting, but…yes there is always a but. My first concern is standing water provides a mosquito breeding ground. I don’t see how you would move the water through quickly enough and have it dry out to prevent this. My second concern is how to keep them from becoming filled with litter. Sadly, LB residents are not known for cleaning up after themselves.

  6. Inlets used to be on Pacific, Riverside, New York and somewhere down west I believe. There is a plaque on Pacific and Broadway which talks about the old inlet. Natural inlets are great for water quality and biodiversity, but as has been shown by the new inlet (at Old Inlet) on Fire Island, these things migrate rather quickly and can change dramatically with a single storm. So in order to prevent this hypothetical new inlet from migrating, it would need to be stabilized with terminal jetties like the ones at Jones Inlet. Unfortunately, that leads to a plethora of other problems.

    As for the Channel Idea. It is a good idea for stormwater runoff during heavy precipitation events, but won’t do much of anything to protect from storm surge. However, just like with Andrea this past June, when it rains heavily, our sewer system backs up and flows into the street. These channels would not alleviate overflow. Lastly, our water table is overally pretty high, so these channels could not be dug that deep or they would be intercepting the groundwater table.

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