VA: Flood wall now expected to be finished by end of 2016

The contractors working at the hospital site faced delays due to difficulties drilling through found materials like concrete and rocks and a tentative projected finish date for the project is the end of the year, with work on the Asser Levy Park side expected to be finished some time this summer. (Photo by Anne Greenberg)

The contractors working at the hospital site faced delays due to difficulties drilling through found materials like concrete and rocks and a tentative projected finish date for the project is the end of the year, with work on the Asser Levy Park side expected to be finished some time this summer. (Photo by Anne Greenberg)

By Sabina Mollot

Last August, Town & Village reported on how the project to build a flood wall outside the VA Medical Center was scheduled to be finished by March of this year.

However, as anyone who has walked past the construction site recently could see, the project is still ongoing and the actual wall hasn’t even been built yet.

This week, when asked the reason for the delay, a spokesperson for the VA blamed the delay on “unforeseen factors,” specifically a less than cooperative construction site.

Work on the part of the wall along Asser Levy Park is now expected to be finished this summer, according to “tentative projections,” the spokesperson, Claudie Benjamin, said. The walls and work along 23rd and 25th street is now expected to continue until the end of the calendar year. Benjamin added that once the work along Asser Levy Place is finished, the park, which is now partially blocked off, should be “like new” at some point in the summer.

As for the difficult work conditions, Benjamin said this was discovered during the excavation for the flood wall’s foundation.

“We found some unanticipated site conditions that required us to bring in archeological and architectural teams to review and opine that we were doing everything safe for the site and the local community and that we didn’t have any archeological sites of significance,” she said.

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Area residents wary of planned ferry landing

Meeting attendees look at a model of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village with a planned elevated park at the waterfront. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Meeting attendees look at a model of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village with a planned elevated park at the waterfront. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community residents got the opportunity to interact with 3D models showing possibilities for flood protection and access to the waterfront on the East Side at the most recent workshop for the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project last Thursday evening. This meeting was the third in a round of public workshops, held at Washington Irving High School, discussing different options for the area along the East River from East 14th to 23rd Streets in terms of protecting the neighborhood from future storm surges and future Hurricane Sandys.

Since the first public workshop was held in March, the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency along with the urban design team working on the project have narrowed the design ideas down into a combination of an elevated park that integrates static floodwalls and deployable features. The break in the elevated park, known as a berm or levee, at East 20th Street is partially to accommodate a ferry landing that the Environmental Development Cooperation is considering developing there. Representatives from the city and the urban designers working on the project said they could not answer specific questions on the ferry landing itself since that project is not under the purview of the ESCR, but some residents at the meeting expressed concern about what the increased foot traffic would mean for the neighborhood.

“We want to see certain lovely things stay but newer, shinier and busier isn’t always better,” Stuyvesant Town resident Laura Koestler said. “Right now it’s small potatoes but it can become commercialized. With the possibility of a ferry over there, I just picture what the insane crowds have become at the Williamsburg Flea.”

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Bellevue Hospital to build flood wall

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal has expressed concern about the project's construction. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal has expressed concern about the project’s construction. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Bellevue Hospital is in the beginning stages of a plan that aims to protect the facility from future Hurricane Sandys and released an environmental assessment on the project at the beginning of July. The document is the first the Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), Bellevue’s parent organization, has released concerning the project and outlines the most viable alternative, a comprehensive mitigation system, which consists of a “perimeter boundary protection system” or flood wall around the hospital center. It will include a series of connected permanent and removable walls and integrated flood gates, as well as new elevators, a secondary domestic water pumping system, relocation of the HVAC equipment to above the 500-year flood plain and other features.

Other alternatives that were discussed in the document but that were ultimately dismissed include relocation of the hospital center or just a flood wall with no other changes. Relocation is not being considered because HHC does not think it practical to abandon the infrastructure investments that have been made on the existing site. The second alternative has been dismissed because while it is expected to provide similar flood protection to the wall in the selected plan, HHC wanted to incorporate a “Multiple Lines of Defense” strategy.

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Ideas for waterfront by Stuy Cove include cafes, elevated park

Area residents listen to a discussion about potential use of the waterfront at a meeting at Washington Irving High School. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Area residents listen to a discussion about potential use of the waterfront at a meeting at Washington Irving High School. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The coastal resiliency project backed by the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency has announced new possible plans for the waterfront by Stuyvesant Cove Park, with ideas including cafes or an elevated park.

The Tuesday evening workshop held at Washington Irving High School was more interactive than the previous gathering, which was mainly a presentation from ORR director Dan Zarilli and Jeremy Siegel, a project designer with the consultant team of Big U and director of Rebuild by Design.

Rebuild by Design was launched by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and held a competition for resiliency ideas, which resulted in the Big U project to protect the coastline known as the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project.

ORR senior policy advisor Carrie Grassi said this week that there was a short gap between the end of the contest and the beginning of the design process, but the project is now gaining more momentum.

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