Harding Park

Harding Park

As part of the Resilient Neighborhoods initiative, the Department of City Planning has been working with the community in Harding Park to identify strategies to reduce risks associated with coastal flooding and ensure the long-term resiliency of its built environment. The neighborhood is a former summer campground located on the shores of the Harlem and East Rivers and has retained much of its historic, rustic charm to this day.  It was selected for study due to the unique flood risk management challenges and opportunities posed by the community’s topography, existing housing stock, and governance structure.

View the PDF Document summary report on Harding Park.

Visit the Harding Park Flood Risk Atlas.

To better understand the various resiliency challenges faced by residents in Harding Park, DCP engaged in conversations with a variety of stakeholders including residents, local community associations, elected officials and community-based organizations. DCP met with the Harding Park Homeowner’s Association and others in late 2013 to kick off the neighborhood resiliency study and has maintained an ongoing relationship with stakeholders in Harding Park to develop a collaborative vision that can be undertaken at both the public and private (homeowner’s association and homeowner) level. These include site-specific strategies that protect buildings and mitigate stormwater flooding on individual properties, as well as more comprehensive strategies such as reducing impervious surfaces and installing green infrastructure. As some of these concepts are refined, there will be further community outreach.

Harding Park is a small, private waterfront community located on the southwestern tip of the Clason Point peninsula. Bounded by the Bronx River to the west and the East River to the south, the neighborhood includes over 12,000 square feet of City-owned parkland and open space along the waterfront.  Harding Park is characterized by a unique variety of lot sizes and construction types. The majority of the 226 single family homes are one- to two-story bungalow structures originally constructed when the community was first established during the early 20th century before the mapping of flood zones. Today, approximately one third of homes within the study area are within the 1% annual chance floodplain.

Harding Park is vulnerable to a variety of flood hazards, including significant inundation and wave action from coastal storm surge, and ponding in streets and yards from rainfall events. With projections for more frequent and severe storms as well as sea level rise from climate change, these hazards are expected to worsen over time.

Flood risk in Harding Park is further exacerbated by the limited stormwater infrastructure. The six City-owned streets that intersect the study area are part of the City’s combined sewer system, which discharges to a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) outfall in the East River. However, the streets owned by the Homeowners Association that comprise much of the study area are unsewered, except for a private sanitary network that services the community. In these areas with no drainage system, stormwater is unmitigated and runoff flows directly over the ground until it is either absorbed or eventually channeled into waterways. These conditions cause regular inundation of streets, yards, and homes within the community during rainstorms.

DCP developed a resiliency framework in collaboration with community stakeholders and other City agencies that includes a variety of strategies to reduce flood risks, while also improving the community’s parks and open spaces.

Building Design Strategies

Flood resilient improvements to buildings in Harding Park are enabled by the PDF Document 2013 Flood Resilience Zoning Text Amendment, which removed regulatory barriers to retrofitting and rebuilding homes in compliance with Appendix G of New York City Building Code and FEMA standards by allowing building height to be measured from the Design Flood Elevation. This text was adopted on a temporary basis, and efforts are ongoing to make it permanent.

Open Space Strategies

Flooding from coastal storms, wave action and inundation from rain could be partially mitigated through a combination of green infrastructure interventions within the neighborhood and surrounding parkland. Through a preliminary analysis of drainage in the study area performed using data from local 311 sewer complaints, site observations, and mapping simulations, DCP has identified several strategic sites that experience regular and/or severe runoff and ponding in both privately-owned and publicly-owned areas. Working in conjunction with the Departments of Parks and Recreation, Environmental Protection and Transportation as well as the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resilience, DCP has identified opportunities to utilize the City-owned parkland and open space in and around Harding Park as a multipurpose community amenity that mitigates coastal flood risk, promotes stormwater management, and improves ecological resources. These strategies require further study, and are contingent on additional funding. DCP also identified a series of strategies that residents and the homeowners association can pursue to improve stormwater management through interventions in private streets and surface parking areas.

The Resilient Neighborhoods Initiative is part of a broad range of efforts by the City to recover from Hurricane Sandy, promote rebuilding and increase the city’s resilience to climate-related events, including coastal flooding and storm surge.

For more information contact: ResilientBronx_DL@planning.nyc.gov