14th Street between Avenues B and C during Sandy (Photographer unknown)
By Sabina Mollot
State Senator Brad Hoylman, along with other East Side elected officials, has been petitioning the state’s new storm recovery program, which has been focusing its efforts on restoring and protecting Lower Manhattan from future Sandy-like disasters, to include areas further north — in particular Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village, Waterside Plaza and the hospitals along Bedpan Alley.
Through the program, New York Rising, which was launched by Governor Cuomo, Lower Manhattan was awarded $25 million to implement community-input-driven strategies to rebuild downtown and strengthen the area against future extreme weather.
However, as Hoylman noted in testimony he gave to the Lower Manhattan Community Planning Committee on October 30, areas as far north as the mid-30s on the East Side and the high 20s on the West Side also saw serious damage as a result of the superstorm. Just a few examples include the flooding and months-long shutdowns at hospitals including NYU Langone, Bellevue and the VA Medical Center, loss of numerous services for months in 15 buildings in Peter Cooper Village and two in Stuyvesant Town, as well as the destruction of the management office there, and on the West Side, the flooding of half a dozen residential buildings that required evacuations, including one Chelsea building housing 50 people with HIV/AIDS.
In mid-October, the planning committee for NY Rising agreed to extend the borders of its catchment area from Canal Street west of Essex Street up to Delancey Street east of Essex up to all of Manhattan south of 14th Street, so Hoylman said he hoped the committee would also consider expanding the area further north to include Bedpan Alley.
The ongoing effort by NY Rising is “laudable,” said Hoylman, “but it excludes major swaths of Manhattan
The East River flows west under the FDR Drive last October 29. (Photographer unknown)
that were damaged by Sandy including Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, and especially the hospitals, which serve the whole city. I think our community above 14th Street is a natural fit for this conversation.”
Hoylman’s senatorial district includes ST/PCV, Waterside, Chelsea and Greenwich Village, areas that saw some of Manhattan’s heaviest damage last October.
Especially important in planning for the future of those areas, noted Hoylman, is the protection of the elderly population.
“The seniors in Peter Cooper and Stuy Town were essentially cut off from civilization,” he said.
Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Vasquez, Assembly Members Brian Kavanagh and Richard Gottfried, State Senator Liz Krueger and Council Members Dan Garodnick, Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez have also been in support of the area north of 14th Street’s inclusion in the planning and on October 22, all signed onto a letter, as did Hoylman, that was sent to Seth Diamond, the director of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. At this time, Hoylman said they’ve yet to receive a response.