Letter: Proposal for $52B storm barriers completely ignores the Bronx

Digital rendering of the proposed Verazanno Storm Surge Barrier.
Digital rendering of the proposed Verazanno Storm Surge Barrier on the Hudson River, part of the NYNJHAT Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study.
Image courtesy USACE

This letter is running as an open letter at the request of its author. 

Dear Mr. Wisemiller and Ms. Alkemeyer, U.S Army Corps of Engineers

On behalf of the City Island community of approximately 4,500 residents in the Bronx, New York, we are writing with deep concern regarding the New York/New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study. While we appreciate federal efforts to address New York City’s vulnerability to climate change, the current proposals do nothing to address rising tides in our area or to protect the coastal communities of the Bronx, New York.

By creating storm barriers only for areas of lower Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is essentially turning our borough and neighborhood into sacrificial lambs in the case of a natural emergency. Our area is already suffering from increased flooding and severe storms, issues that will only worsen in the coming years, according to climate projections. Our community in particular is vulnerable as City Island has only one way on/off, and the evacuation route goes through areas of Pelham Bay Park that flood regularly from normal rainfall and lack of adequate drainage or natural irrigation. Several City Island roadways, from Minnieford Avenue to Ditmars and Tier streets, suffer from nuisance flooding regularly. These issues will be exacerbated if we are left unprotected while other communities are fortified to withstand the elements.

Furthermore, from what we have seen and read from other community-based organizations, there is a need to fully review this entire plan to incorporate nature-based solutions, environmental justice principles and take into consideration existing plans at the city and state level that are currently in motion. At the very least, we demand a proposal that would protect the at-risk communities of the Bronx that is built in collaboration with our residents and stakeholders.

Thank you for your time. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about this request and willing to meet with your agency to discuss this issue at greater length. We look forward to working
with you.

City Island Rising