The final stone has been set, and the brand-new Hamilton Beach “boardwalk” has opened.
The 2,000-foot-long cement walkway now provides access for Hamilton Beach residents to travel a direct path from the neighborhood to the Coleman Square train station. Before the reconstruction, the now-cement path was a boardwalk with wooden slats.
The boardwalk was in disrepair for many years, with some boards missing and rusty rail, but it was usable. But once Superstorm Sandy hit, the fragile boardwalk was further damaged and deemed too dangerous for the public to use.
Following Sandy, the city dragged its heels on repairing the boardwalk because of a dispute over who actually owned the land beneath it. The city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) claimed that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority owned the land, while the state-run MTA insisted it was the city’s land and responsibility.
Councilman Eric Ulrich then pushed for repairs to be done immediately by the city and the rightful owner, DCAS, took over the project.
“This is an issue our office has worked on with DCAS and the Hamilton Beach community for a long time,” Ulrich said. “In an area with limited ways in and out, the boardwalk is a main route connecting many people to the Howard Beach A train station. Residents will once again have easier access to transportation — but the boardwalk is just one part of the neighborhood that needed repair and we aim to fix them all.”
Repairs started back in May and were finished last week. The new “boardwalk” is now a cement path with a stone embankment descending to the water. The walkway has a new fence and guardrail.
“As a whole this is a positive step [for Hamilton Beach],” said Roger Gendron, president of the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association. “It is great that we have another way out of Hamilton Beach that is safer for residents to get to the businesses in Coleman Square and the train station.”
Hamilton Beach is a small portion of Howard Beach and is separated from the rest of the neighborhood by canals and waterways. There are only three ways out of the neighborhood, one being the boardwalk, which was out of commission for the past two years.
“I am glad to finally see that Hamilton Beach is finally getting some of the attention that it desperately needs from the city,” Gendron noted. “This is a great step forward.”