Flood control fiasco

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Flood control fiasco

Story By: LIZ FINNEGAN
11/1/2018


LONG ISLAND—The Army Corps of Engineers held a meeting last week to address a plan they hope will protect New York City and northern New Jersey from severe flooding in the next major storm. However, the plan does not guarantee the same protection in nearby coastal areas. In fact, some environmentalists think that if those plans were to be put into place, it could make flooding an even bigger issue for Long Island.

The New York/New Jersey Harbor & Tributaries Focus Area Feasibility Study involves placing massive floodgates at strategic points around the island of Manhattan. When a storm hits, the gates could be closed to prevent much of the water from getting to the shore, thus saving the infrastructure, buildings and residents of that busy metropolis and thwart the sort of damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. However, many have noted that when water is prevented from going one way, it will go somewhere else, which could increase the potential for flooding on the north and south shores of Long Island. “Mathematically, it doesn’t add up,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, just before the recent meeting to address the project. 

Although several public meetings about this plan were held in New York City, none had been scheduled on Long Island until Esposito contacted Congressman Tom Suozzi (3rd District), who intervened and arranged for the meeting that was held at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point.

Esposito said that despite short notice and the rather obscure location, she was happy with the good turnout that included residents and municipal officials. “People came from all over Long Island and they asked good questions,” she said. 

“They had four different proposals and a fifth, which was to do nothing,” Esposito said, noting that the four involved a series of different sea-wall barriers.

“These plans were crafted for New York City and not for Long Island,” she said. “This plan needs to be closely scrutinized and watched.”

“It’s an absolutely absurd idea,” said Marshall Brown, the director of Save the Great South Bay, who did not attend the meeting. A critic of the Army Corps of Engineers, Brown cited other projects that the ACE has been involved in that didn’t turn out as expected. One was the replacement of sand distribution to the shoreline around Smith Point County Park that over time has drifted to begin closing off the east end breach. He said he is also very concerned about the effects the floodgates would have on the South Shore.

“You can’t push around nature like that. It just comes back to bite you,” Brown said.

At the meeting, ACE representatives reportedly said the plan is still in preliminary stages and that no construction is expected to begin until around 2030. Suozzi called for more public meetings before considering the project, which could cost around $20 billion. Esposito said she and Suozzi made it clear that those meetings would have to be held on Long Island.

 “We are alarmed by this plan,” said Esposito. “This has to be a holistic approach.”

The Army Corps of Engineers has invited public comment, which should be in by Nov. 5, 2018. Comments can be mailed to: Nancy Brighton, Room 2151,US Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, 26 Federal Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10278 or it can be emailed to: nynjharbor.tribstudy@usace.army.mil.