Is New Construction Making Staten Island More Prone to Flooding?

With more or less the entirety of New York and its surrounding areas rallying around Staten Island in the ongoing aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, some things still aren’t really going the way locals want them to. Namely, that construction projects in the waterfront neighborhood of Crescent Beach are moving forward after nearly a decade of protests, and likely making the entire area less safe for future flooding. Oh, good.

“We used to have that land to absorb water,” said community advocate Carol Zirngibl of planned developments including a new 87-residence waterfront property. “We don’t have that anymore.”

And, given that most of the waterfront land in the area qualifies as wetlands, fears that new, larger buildings in the area would simply re-direct floodwaters toward low-lying bungalow homes seem founded. The projects had been moving forward in spite of opposition and a 2011 community board vote against them, but an architect on the projects noted that work is currently being held while FEMA readies a new map of predicted flood-levels in the area.

In the meantime, Bloomberg is assembling a planned task force to examine the logistics of safe, sustainable development and handling of flooding on Staten Island, admitting that they still need to “determine what that means.” Other than the fact that over-building on wetlands is almost always a disastrous idea, I assume? Seems like that one should already be on the table.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.


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