By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney gathered with local politicians and community residents at Solar One last Friday to encourage participation at upcoming workshops that will help design the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, a plan that was designed in response to the damage wrought on Lower Manhattan as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
“Sandy demonstrated that the time for complacency is over,” Maloney said on Friday. “Sea levels are rising. That suggests that we’re going to be seeing a lot more flooding, but now we have an opportunity to seize the moment and remake Manhattan’s East River coastline from Montgomery to 23rd Street into something that protects us from future storm surges.”
President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy rebuilding task force created the Rebuild by Design initiative in August 2013 and held a design competition for coastal resiliency projects. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development selected the BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) Team and their project that will protect the Manhattan waterfront from West 57th Street, around the tip of Manhattan up to East 42nd Street. The first phase of the project will focus on the area in Manhattan from Montgomery Street to East 23rd Street.
HUD awarded $335 million in federal funds in June, 2014 for that specific phase of the project, to create a protective system for that area of Manhattan. The project is meant to shield the area from flooding as well as provide more access to the waterfront, more open space and other environmental benefits for the community.
City Council Member Dan Garodnick, whose office has secured separate funding for a kayak launch at Stuyvesant Cove Park, was at the event on Friday and emphasized the importance of protecting the community from future disasters.
“We never expected to have our community flooded,” he said. “And we never expected to have senior citizens stranded because they were not in a flood zone and were told to stay put. This was a challenge all over the city and we saw real devastation.”
He added that he was looking forward to the opportunity for community input on the project.
“We value our access to the waterfront but we don’t want to see it impact our homes,” he said. “We want our neighbors to turn out for these workshops and the process will be constructive.”
Ellen Imbimbo, a resident of Murray Hill and member of the Community Board 6 Land Use and Waterfront Committee, was also at the event to offer the community board’s support for the program.
“I live outside the flood zone but we were still impacted by Sandy,” she said. “We want to protect the waterfront from other storms like Sandy and CB6 will do everything it can to support that goal.”
The workshops are scheduled for 6:30 to 8 p.m. tonight, March 19 and Monday, March 23. The first workshop will be held at Bard High School Early College, 525 East Houston Street and the second will be held at Washington Irving High School, 40 Irving Place. The two events are intended to get input from the community on their needs and priorities that will be considered in the concept design.