Winter may be on its last legs, but like an aging boxer with something still left in that old right hook, it can pack a punch. And we have to keep our guard up a few more weeks before we are out of the woods.
But what will spring bring? We’re told city beaches will be open by Memorial Day. The city is spending some $266 million to see that it happens. The price tag for the Rockaways alone will be $147 million.
But things will not be the same. One visit to those Rockaway beaches devastated by Sandy and you know that things will never at least look the same. The three miles of boardwalk that were ripped to shreds will not be back in time. But the city is ready to build so-called “concrete islands,” where food vendors can set up shop and bathrooms can be placed.
The city also reportedly wants to build modular buildings on stilts in the sand for lifeguard stations and maintenance locations. But that is just in Queens. There are also the beaches on Staten Island that still have a pile of junk in some parking lots.
You can pour millions of dollars and tons of sand back on the beaches, but what will it feel like to venture out?
Sandy robbed miles of beach and boardwalk, claimed homes and lives. And perhaps with the receding shore line also went some of our innocence — that childhood feeling that all is good and fun at the beach and in the surf.
I remember attending a Long Island emergency management seminar a few years back. Experts were warning of a “worst-case scenario” storm that could “surge” forward and devastate the coastline. The maps they showed look similar to the newly updated flood-zone sectors. I remember sitting there and thinking, “Oh, another worst-case scenario” that the fear-mongers love to conjure up.
Of course, the “fear-mongers” were right on target. But we just didn’t know it at the time. We’ve often had the idea in our area that “it couldn’t happen here.” That we don’t get deadly hurricanes, blizzards and tornadoes. These past few seasons have proven that notion wrong.
So with the coming of spring, after the fall that brought Sandy and the winter that brought Nemo, perhaps there will be finally time to take a deep breath and catch a break from Mother Nature. Perhaps it will be relaxing to hit the beaches. But first, let’s put winter behind us. And, at last, bring on spring.