[UPDATE BELOW] A $200 million project to rebuild sections of the Rockaway Beach boardwalk destroyed in Hurricane Sandy won't be completed until the summer of 2017, a NYC Parks Department officia confirmed to DNAinfo. The new concrete design, which was presented at a Community Board meeting on Monday, has received mixed reactions from local residents, some of whom say it lacks the charm of a wooden boardwalk. Engineers say it's sturdier and will be able to withstand future hurricanes.

The concretewalk, which is still awaiting an environmental review for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, will be elevated higher than the old Boardwalk—as high as seven feet in some places—to comply with new FEMA flood standards. There are also plans for an 8-inch-thick concrete "baffle wall" under the new boardwalk, anchored with steel pilings.


First Deputy Commissioner of Parks Liam Kavanagh said he expects the first section of new boardwalk, between the concession stands on Beach 86th Street and Beach 97th Street, to be completed some time next summer. The project was delayed at least a month due to the federal government shutdown, but it's unclear why the boardwalk will take four more years to be completed.

As usual, the Parks Department press office completely ignored our requests for information about this publicly-funded project finally responded to say that they'd respond this afternoon.

Update 5:09 p.m.: We just received the statement from the Parks Department about all this:

NYC Parks, with the assistance of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, is currently working with the Rockaway community on a complete reconstruction of the Rockaway Boardwalk. With the exception of the new boardwalk islands that were completed for last summer, the design is being rethought from quite literally the ground up - with elevated, steel-reinforced concrete and multiple layers of protection, including approximately 6 miles of retaining walls and planted dunes. After receiving virtually unanimous community board support for these crucial elements, we are now selecting more specific boardwalk conditions in a series of community meetings.

We anticipate groundbreaking in early 2014 and as construction progresses we will be able to estimate completion dates for individual sections as well as the overall project. This is a complex project - the planned improvements must comply with many layers of environmental reviews related to working within the Coastal Erosion Hazard Area. To expedite the process and maximize continued beach access, we intend to tackle the building of multiple sections of boardwalk at the same time and are looking into installing linkages across missing boardwalk sections. As the construction progresses we will be opening the boardwalk incrementally, with sections available to the public as soon as they are completed.

Overall, with necessary precautions and permits, the entire boardwalk rebuilding will last a few years. All of this work will be coordinated with the Army Corps of Engineers, who will be pumping 2.9 million cubic yards sand onto the beach as part of their nourishment project.

This project is not just restoring what we had before, or making repairs that will survive until the next storm. We recognize that we have a historic responsibility to work with the community and create a stronger, more resilient, and more attractive boardwalk. We also understand the urgency of rebuilding the boardwalk, and we are proceeding through the design process rapidly while still incorporating meaningful community input.