The New York Rising project, a state-sponsored, federally-funded program to make coastal communities more resilient in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, will unveil the final proposals for Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach tonight, revealing the $21.3 million vision to help us better withstand and more quickly recover from future disasters.
The meeting kicks off at 7:00 p.m. at the Brooklyn Amity School (3867 Shore Parkway), and all are welcome to attend.
The workshop represents the culmination of nearly a year of work by a committee of grassroots stakeholders, who worked with planning experts and consultants to identify shortcomings and vulnerabilities in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and propose ideas that would fill those gaps. After several public hearings and draft plans, they’re finalizing the plan that the state will begin implementing. You can read the full report here, but we’re boiling it down to what you need to know ahead of tonight’s meeting.
The first thing to note is that there’s already $13.3 million allocated to Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach to see many of these projects through. It’s still several million shy of covering all the costs of the full vision, and the committee’s job is to come up with the list of projects to receive those funds. This is basically the highest priority stuff that they’re asking the state to pay attention to. Once the report is finalized, the state will pluck from the list and give their final go-ahead.
There are also projects that the committee thinks is a good idea, called featured projects, but not good enough to receive money from the existing pot. Those will require separate funding from what’s already been doled out by the feds. To keep it simple, we’re not including these in our list.
If you think any of these ideas are a waste of money, or you have suggestions for a tweak or change in plans, make sure you attend tonight’s meeting. While the plan is final, representatives from the governor’s office and other agencies responsible for implementing it will be in attendance, and your input could change how they move forward and what they prioritize.
Without further ado, here’s the list of projects that the local committee is recommending for funding through federal money already held by the state. We’ve organized them in order of estimated price tag.
- Installation of sewer cut-off valves for one- and two-family homes – $5.7 million – Timeframe: 18-24 months – One of the most frequently heard complaints after the storm was that homes flooded not from actual stormwater, but from overflowing sewers that backed up into homes. This proposal would provide funds for the purchase and installation of several thousand cut-off valves for local property owners. Essentially, the valves seal off the property if waste is heading the wrong way through the pipe.
- Elevating and retrofitting homes – $2.5-$3.5 million – Timeframe: two years – The project would help provide direct financial assistance to fund elevation and retrofitting of homes in the area, including a public education component to inform homeowners of additional available resources. The project includes assessing the number of homes in the area that need to be raised or upgraded, and determining eligibility guidelines for the work.
- Installation of backup generators at key facilities - $2.55 million – Estimate time to implement: 12-16 months – Many of the waterfront senior homes and community spaces struggled in Sandy’s wake to get back up and running because of power outages, and neighbors also had few places to charge cell phones and other technology they relied on. This proposal seeks to install 13 large-scale generators at key facilities in the high-risk flood zone. They’ll be limited to public facilities or private buildings that serve critical needs, like health and medical services, food or medical supplies, and will be flood-proofed.
- Retrofitting key businesses and community services assets - $2.5 million – Timeframe: 16-24 months – Sandy knocked a huge swath of Emmons Avenue and Sheepshead Bay Road businesses out of operation for several months, and that includes pharmacies and grocery stores. This proposal would fund the installation of risk reduction measures, such as deployable small-scale flood barriers at all entrances to a property, as well as upgrades like the elevation or enclosure of mechanical equipment. It’s not clear how many businesses and community facilities would be covered by the $2.5 million.
- Create an Emergency Response and Recovery Center in Sheepshead Bay – $2.4 million – Timeframe: 12-16 months – Committee members argued that recovery from Sandy was hampered by the lack of a central location for response operations, both in the immediate aftermath, when food and basic supplies were crucial, and in the months that followed, when residents needed access to information and resources. This proposal is to study potential locations for a new or existing building, assess options to make it flood proof, and then lease, buy or construct such a space. Once created, it would be staffed before, during and after a storm as a space for pre-disaster planning and post-disaster operations, including storage of supplies and equipment.
- Retrofitting the Gerritsen Beach Vollies and Fire Department - $2.4 million – Timeframe: 12-16 months – The Vollies Hall and Gerrittsen Beach Fire Department Station played a critical role in the aftermath of Sandy, becoming the de facto headquarters for relief operations. While they escaped the worst of Sandy’s wrath, it may not fare so well in future storms. The committee proposes building second floors on both of these one-story structures, and retrofitting it with resiliency equipment including flood barriers, generators, storm gates and even solar panels.
- Backflow prevention measures on city stormwater outfall pipes - $740,000 – Timeframe: 12 months – Many Sandy victims didn’t see the water coming from the Bay, they saw it rising out of the sewers. That’s because the stormwater infiltrated the sewer system through outfall pipes on the coastline, where it reemerged from street grates and home sewer lines. This project proposes to take a look at the system to analyze the infrastructure, and to install devices that would automatically close five outfall pipes in Sheepshead Bay and 11 in Gerritsen Beach when water begins heading in the wrong direction.
- Resilient streetscape improvements on Emmons Avenue - $500,000 – Timeframe: 12 months – The Emmons Avenue corridor would be upgraded with benches and lighting, additional tree beds and grass plantings – as well as the installation of green stormwater drainage and attenuation systems. Green spaces help with drainage after a heavy rain event and help prevent flooding on roads and sidewalks.
- Repair and reconstruct Canton Court bulkhead in Gerritsen Beach - $490,000 – Timeframe: 6-9 months – Sandy did major damage to this bulkhead, which supports a roadway, and the street is now collapsing. This project allocates funds to tear it down, build a new one and repair the street.
- Study Gerrtisen Beach streets for infrastructure repairs - $200,000 – Timeframe: 6-8 months – This project will produce a report to be given to the Department of Transportation for a plan to upgrade the neighborhood’s street infrastructure with better catch basins and drainage systems. The plan will then be in the city’s hands to budget for.
- Feasibility study to improve the resiliency of Sheepshead Bay’s courts - $150,000 – Timeframe: 12 months – The worst hit homes in Sheepshead Bay were those in the “courts” – the bungalow colonies along Emmons Avenue that sit five feet below street level. In addition to their low-lying nature, the web of sidewalks between them have no city-connected drainage systems, turning the entire thing into a swimming pool on moderately rainy days. This study will consider various measures to improve stormwater drainage and help alleviate the persistent flooding, and it would also look at modifying the buildings to be more resilient, and even connecting the whole system to city infrastructure. There is no funding to actually implement any proposals the report may produce.
- Storm surge protection for Sheepshead Bay – $100,000 – Two-year project – New York Rising stakeholders for Manhattan Beach repeatedly complained that much of their flooding came from the Sheepshead Bay side of the peninsula, not the ocean. As such, they’re proposing a “reconnaissance study” to identify viable options to keep the bay contained in future storms. If some options seem doable, a feasibility study will commence, and then implementation. There is not yet funding for either the feasibility study or the implementation.
- Evacuation planning for Gerritsen Beach - $50,000 – Estimated timeframe: 3 to 4 months – Gerritsen Beach’s only evacuation route is Gerritsen Avenue – which is also at risk of flooding. This proposal is to fund a study to see if the route can handle the traffic volume that would emerge in an emergency situation, resulting in proposals to alter operational plans (such as a parking ban on the corridor during an evacuation event, which would open up an additional lane of traffic).