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Mayor de Blasio, Lower Manhattan Leaders Announce New $100 Million City Commitment to Coastal Resiliency

August 27, 2015

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City Will Leverage Commitment to Bolster National Disaster Resilience Competition Application, Potentially Securing Additional Funding for Lower Manhattan Integrated Flood Protection and Housing Resiliency; Extensive Community Engagement Planned 

New Lower Manhattan Flood Protection Will Complement Extensive Resiliency Investments Already Underway Across City

NEW YORK—Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Lower Manhattan elected officials and community leaders announced a new City capital commitment of $100 million to help protect Lower Manhattan from flooding.

The announcement comes as the country marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and approaches the third anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.

At an event to showcase emergency preparedness plans today, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “This new investment will continue to ensure that New York City is a global leader in protecting itself against the impacts of climate change, while strengthening our push to secure additional support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In Lower Manhattan and across the five boroughs, climate risks are only growing. Every family and every neighborhood must be prepared – from ensuring New Yorkers have an emergency plan and ‘go bags’ at the ready, to working with our partners across government to move forward our comprehensive resiliency plan.”

This new City investment is in addition to the nearly $15 million for Lower Manhattan resiliency that the City announced in March 2015, which included $6.75 million from the City and State for preliminary design and environmental review and another $8 million in City capital funds for first-phase flood protection design and implementation in Battery Park. The investment will go toward integrated flood protection around the southern tip of Lower Manhattan, stretching from Montgomery Street in the Two Bridges neighborhood on the Lower East Side, down and around to the northern end of Battery Park City. The flood protection and resiliency measures build on a commitment made in OneNYC earlier this year, and will include coastal protection, storm water management, housing resiliency, and community co-benefits – including a focus on New York City Housing Authority developments and other multifamily buildings. The City will release a Request for Proposals in September and undertake an extensive community engagement process to shape the final design.

The new flood protection system will complement the City’s comprehensive $20 billion resiliency plan already underway around the five boroughs, including the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project being built from Montgomery Street north to East 23rd Street. The City, in collaboration with partners like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has already implemented a number of short-term resiliency measures, such as additional sand and dunes on the City’s beaches and repairs and improvements to City facilities, boardwalks, and other infrastructure.  The City and its partners are also implementing a variety of coastal resiliency measures such as beach improvements and wetland enhancements in the Rockaways and Jamaica Bay, a levee on the East Shore of Staten Island, investments at the food distribution center in Hunts Point, a comprehensive study at Coney Island Creek, and integrated flood protection in Red Hook.  This is supplemented by significant resiliency investments being made in City infrastructure, such as $3 billion for NYCHA developments, $1.7 billion for public hospitals, and other measures to prepare for the impacts of climate change and other 21st century threats.

The City will also leverage this new funding commitment to Lower Manhattan to bolster its application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s National Disaster Resilience Competition. This summer, the City was selected to join Phase 2 of the competition, which was designed to improve resiliency in eligible communities across the country. If the City’s application is successful, it could be eligible for up to $500 million in additional funding –  potentially sextupling the amount of resiliency funding for this Lower Manhattan project.

“Lower Manhattan, once the bustling hub of commerce for New York City, has evolved to become our modern central business district and a world class residential neighborhood,” said Senator Charles Schumer. “This live-work community was inundated during Sandy, leaving workers around the city unable to get to their jobs and residents without power. Mayor de Blasio’s commitment of 100 million to fortify our central business district ‎is a huge shot in the arm for Lower Manhattan. We were able to secure $335 million in federal funding for resiliency through HUD’s Rebuild by Design competition and I will continue to fight for every penny of federal funding to make Lower Manhattan stronger and better prepared for the next storm.”

“The $100 million investment by the City demonstrates a strong commitment to making our coastal communities more resilient,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.

“I deeply applaud the City’s new $100 million capital commitment to increasing resiliency in Lower Manhattan,” said Congressman Jerry Nadler. “This kind of investment in infrastructure and flood protection is absolutely necessary to keep people and businesses thriving in a community that was badly hit by Superstorm Sandy. After Sandy, I fought to secure the necessary emergency funding to help New York recover. I am proud to have helped bring federal resources to the City to assist in the recovery and will continue to work with our federal, city and state partners to do so in the next phases of our resiliency efforts.”

“Lower Manhattan has critical resiliency and storm protection needs,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “This commitment for Manhattan’s southern tip – from Montgomery around the Battery – will go a long way to ensuring a safer, more resilient neighborhood. And it comes on the heels of our previous successful push for $14.75 million for Manhattan’s southern tip and our work to secure funds north of Montgomery Street, bringing us closer to the needed storm coverage throughout lower Manhattan. I thank the City for its responsiveness and collaboration to make this a reality, as well as Councilmember Chin, the Downtown Alliance, LES Ready!, Community Boards 1 and 3, and colleagues for continuing the push to ensure our extensive resiliency needs are met.”

“This commitment by Mayor de Blasio to bolster Lower Manhattan’s resiliency to storm damage is a much needed shot in the arm for the residents and businesses in my community,” said Assembly Member Sheldon Silver. “After the storm, on the ground, we did whatever we could to provide relief. But it was talking to the people living through it where I really found out what the needs were and adapted my support. By engaging the community which endured surging waters and cold dark nights, we can together create a safer, stronger and better Lower Manhattan. I urge HUD to take a close look at the devastating effects of that storm and fully fund this proposal.”

“Lower Manhattan was one of the areas hit hardest by Sandy, as whole neighborhoods from the Seaport to Battery Park City found themselves underwater,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “These neighborhoods are the historic, civic, and economic heart of our city, which is why comprehensive resiliency investments here are so critical. I thank Mayor de Blasio and all my colleagues for their work to strengthen Lower Manhattan.”

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio for recognizing the importance of securing Lower Manhattan’s coastal defenses while still ensuring access to our waterfront for residents and visitors,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “After seeing firsthand the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy, I understand the value of investing in coastal resiliency measures to secure the gains we have made in rebuilding homes, businesses, and vital infrastructure. We have made great strides, but the fight to fully restore and protect our neighborhoods from the next big storm is far from over – so we need to continue to work together.” 

“From the canyons of Lower Manhattan and in countries rich and poor around the world, people are waking up to the reality of sea level rise and climate change,” said Community Board 1 Chair Catherine McVay Hughes. “While we take steps to address the root causes of climate change, we have to protect the assets we already have. We learned from Sandy that when Lower Manhattan is inundated, all of New York and the entire tri-state area feel the pain. Work places are closed, transit shuts down, and the economic engine of our prosperity shuts down. This $100 million is the first real step on a road to keeping that engine running.”

“With this $100 million commitment, the Mayor is taking necessary steps to promote a sustainable future for Lower Manhattan,” said Community Board 3 Chair Gigi Li. “We need the federal government to make a commitment as well. This additional funding also ensures that the entirety of CB 3, from the Brooklyn Bridge to 14th Street, is receiving the attention needed in planning and executing a truly comprehensive resiliency plan.”

Jessica Lappin, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York, said, “Lower Manhattan was devastated by Sandy. Residents went without water and power for days. The New Yorkers who power our economy couldn’t get to work. Our transit system and tunnels shut down. Mayor de Blasio’s commitment of $100 million to fortify our central business district ‎is a huge step forward for Lower Manhattan. There are no quick fixes or easy solutions. We need, and are grateful for, this substantial long term investment in our future.”

“Hurricane Sandy highlighted the vulnerabilities in Lower Manhattan and Two Bridges to the impacts of coastal storms and rising seas. Today’s announcement is a major commitment to strengthening these communities and delivering on the City’s OneNYC resiliency goals,” said Daniel Zarrilli, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency. “Thanks to our partners and the elected officials in these communities for their support of this initiative, and for their advocacy on behalf of the City’s National Disaster Resilience Competition application. With the City’s $100 million commitment, we are working to leverage vital federal funds to enhance resiliency and reduce flood risk in Lower Manhattan and Two Bridges, and we look forward to extensive community engagement in support of this initiative.”

“From the earliest days of the State’s recovery, we have been committed to meeting immediate rebuilding needs, while advancing the long-term resiliency of our region,” said Interim Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery Lisa Bova-Hiatt. “The NDRC is a critical opportunity to secure additional federal funding, and we are thrilled to partner with the City to realize our shared vision for a better, stronger New York.”

“The Lower Manhattan coastal resiliency study is a unique opportunity to protect our city’s most significant economic engines,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer. “We look forward to leading this effort with the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency and planning one of the most complex and exciting resiliency projects in the nation, together with our sister agencies, local elected officials and the Lower Manhattan community.”

“NYC Parks is excited by the opportunity to advance resiliency in Lower Manhattan through measures that both enhance open space resources and strengthen our waterfront communities in the face of climate change,” said Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mitchell Silver. “We will look forward to working with the City team and the community to develop accessible, resilient projects."

“Protecting the city’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure against coastal flooding is essential for both public health and the environment,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “Funding provided by Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC program, together with potential federal HUD grants, will also allow us to build green infrastructure throughout Lower Manhattan that will absorb storm water, beautify neighborhoods and improve air quality.”

“HPD is excited to be participating in the City’s application for a program as innovative as the National Disaster Resiliency Competition,” said Vicki Been, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development. “The Lower Manhattan neighborhoods included in the City’s application provide affordable homes to thousands of New York families, and suffered enormous damages as a result of Sandy.  These funds would bolster our existing efforts to invest in comprehensive resiliency improvements in this neighborhood and throughout the city, and help us fulfill key goals of the Housing New York Plan by protecting residents and housing infrastructure from future flood events, increasing energy efficiency, and promoting long-term affordability for New Yorkers.”

“Planning and preparing for future storms can help ensure that Lower Manhattan will continue to play its critical role in making the city thrive,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We thank Mayor Bill de Blasio for making this a OneNYC priority so that vital transportation infrastructure in Lower Manhattan can be better protected from impacts of rising water.”

“The New York City Housing Authority is proud to partner with the Mayor and the Office of Recovery and Resiliency to protect some of the city’s most vulnerable populations through our National Disaster Resiliency Competition application,” said Michael Kelly, General Manager of the New York City Housing Authority. “This application will allow us to build back even stronger, for a cleaner, safer, and more connected community, now with a further emphasis on resiliency. Superstorm Sandy was a devastating event that affected more than 60,000 NYCHA residents and we are committed to working with the City to be part of the solution to protect Lower Manhattan from future storms.”

“This critical investment demonstrates the City’s continued commitment to making the core of our region more resilient at a time of increasing threats,” said Robert Freudenberg, Director of Energy and Environment for Regional Plan Association.  

“The Trust for Public Land is working in partnership with the City to fulfill an ambitious plan to address more severe storm events and sea level rise driven by climate change.  As our neighborhoods and businesses experience growing risks from flooding, we have worked with the City to design and construct Green Infrastructure Playgrounds, to construct the City’s first new post-Sandy resilient park, and to target strategic land-conservation sites that buffer neighborhood from flooding through our Greenprints program,” said Marc Matsil, New York State Director of The Trust for Public Land. “Our collaborative work with the City not only reduces local flooding, captures tens-of-millions of gallons of stormwater, and reduces the carbon footprint, but also provides recreation and public access to the City’s most underserved neighborhoods.  The Trust for Public Land supports the City’s comprehensive resiliency plan, and applauds its efforts in HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition.”

“MAS is committed to community-based planning and investment strategies that support neighborhoods to build their own resilience, and we’re delighted to be patterning with the City,” said Mary Rowe, Executive Vice President of the Municipal Art Society. “The National Disaster Resilience Competition process is an extraordinary opportunity for New York City to work with affected communities on local resiliency planning, demonstrate nationally the effectiveness of an integrated approach, and leverage additional financial commitments from the federal government and other investors who recognize the pivotal importance of Lower Manhattan to the future of the city and region.”

“Simultaneously improving the social, ecological and infrastructural integrity of our city is critical to increasing resilience to climate extremes and other disasters. This means the City must connect improvements in aging infrastructure, affordable housing shortages, and social equity with investments in green infrastructure to improve resilience for all New Yorkers,” said Timon McPhearson, Assistant Professor of the Urban Ecology Lab at The New School. “New York City can, and should, be a model for other cities seeking pathways towards resilient urban futures. The City’s commitments to protection for Lower Manhattan are a critical step for building more livable and resilient futures for our complex and dynamic city.”

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