The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) expects to begin the construction of a seawall to protect part of the coast in Parcelas Suárez, Loíza by January 2020.
Loíza Mayor Julia Nazario said this was the date estimated by the Corps of Engineers, which opened the way for the project after the municipal Board of Directors approved it at a meeting last month.
"I didn't endorse the project until the community approved it, and they did," Nazario said. "We expressed our concerns, but the community understood that it will help them with their years-long fight.”
Concerns partly arise from the location of the seawall, decided to be built in a school, a community center and a head start which are not in use precisely because these structures are damaged due to swells.
The project will be 1,050 feet along the coast, but will not reach the 10th Street area, where there are people currently living.
"What happens is that federal funds were allocated to protect those public structures," Nazario said. "We express our concerns about what would happen to other areas that may be affected by sea currents once the seawall is ready.”
"This is a first step and there will be efforts to have the necessary funds to extend it (the seawall). Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González has expressed in helping us in this fight," she added.
The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) did not comment on the situation. The agency only indicated they had referred the matter to the Corps of Engineers in 2014.
Meanwhile, Catalina Carrasco, spokeswoman for the U.S. Corps of Engineers, said that the entity decided on the seawall after evaluating several alternatives, including the creation of dunes and bringing sand to the top of the coating, which were not viable.
"We are grateful for the opportunity to meet with the community this week. This project is very important for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Jacksonville District. I want you to know that we have done everything we can to move this project forward," said Sheila Hint, U.S. Corps of Engineers Project Manager, in written statements.
She added that it is very important for them "to listen to the community and keep analyzing all the questions and comments to ensure that we are considering all the angles within the limitations we have, such as authorities and funds."
The federal agency is conducting a request for proposals process and expects to select the contractor by September 30, 2019, while they estimate the work would be completed by October 2020.