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Sandy delivery coming to Orchard Beach

Orchard Beach will be receiving its first new shipment of sand since Lyndon B. Johnson was president.

The man-made beach, built as a WPA project in the 1930s, has seen much of its high-quality sand erode since it was last replenished in 1964.

It will get its first new shipment of sand as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $10.6 million contract to an Illinois-based company to replenish much of what has eroded with approximately 250,000 cubic yards of sand, mainly in the southern part of the beach closer to the City Island Bridge.

Work should begin in October and will be complete before the opening of Orchard Beach for the summer season on Memorial Day 2011.

The plan, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, should not only stop erosion on the beach itself, but also make the beach safer by eliminating overcrowding in areas where sand is plentiful, and dangerous points along the shoreline where the level of sand drops dramatically. The project has been a priority of Community Board 10 or at least the past three years.

“Erosion takes its toll and the sand disappears,” Kearns said. “This reclamation will provide generations of Bronxites with an enhanced beach. I am confident that they will do a very good job. The board is excited about anything that will enhance the quality of Pelham Bay Park.”

Kearns said he believes that budgetary issues and the high quality of sand needed for the contract, which has been awarded to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, is the reason that sand has not been replaced on the beach for over 45 years.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said he is confident that when crowds show up to swim on the first day the beach is open in 2011, they will be in for a real treat.

“Parks is pleased to partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to replenish the sand at Orchard Beach, known as the ‘Riviera of the Bronx,’ Benepe said. “This WPA-era, man-made beach was last nourished with sand in 1964. Over time, the beach has lost sand naturally due to tides, winds and storms. We hope to add the equivalent of 15,000 dump truck loads to restore this popular crescent-shaped beach for millions of visitors to enjoy at the start of next season.”

Parks is funding a full 50% of the project, with the rest of the funding coming from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The corps’ John Boule, New York District commanding colonel, called the sand project an outstanding allocation of public funding that will leave behind a “first class recreational beach.”

Senator Jeff Klein also expressed his appreciation.

“Every year, Orchard Beach is the site of our Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza,” Klein said. “I expect that thanks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this year the beach will be even more beautiful for everyone to enjoy.”

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