Donovan, Borelli Push for South Shore Resiliency Investments
August 21, 2017
Projects currently underway leave a gap in protection between Great Kills and Tottenville; Donovan, Borelli inquire about “Raised Shorelines” funding
Staten Island, NY – August 21, 2017….Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11) and Council Member Joe Borelli today called for resiliency investments on Staten Island’s South Shore to fill a gap between existing flood protection projects. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is constructing a comprehensive line of protection from Fort Wadsworth to Great Kills Park, and the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery is advancing breakwaters and dunes for Tottenville. The neighborhoods between Great Kills and Tottenville, though, require attention and protection.
Congressman Donovan said, “I want to be clear: The City’s resiliency team has been doing great work, and we collaborate regularly on important projects like the Army Corps seawall. We’re in the middle of yet another hurricane season, though, and there’s a critical gap along Staten Island’s coastline. I understand that some funding had to be reallocated to Build it Back and that may have caused delays, but protecting these neighborhoods is a priority. I’d like to see the City use the other funding sources at their disposal to move the Raised Shorelines initiative forward on Staten Island.”
Council Member Borelli said, “My constituents have been patient and happy to help out their neighbors further down the shoreline, but resources that had been temporarily reallocated to ensure that families could return to their homes must ultimately be restored. Coastal residents of the south shore should not be left in the dark on this issue and there needs to be a clear message coming from government that their vulnerabilities to extreme weather are understood and that shoreline protection is being planned for.”
Staten Island’s South Shore has been listed as a vulnerable area requiring resiliency investments for years. According to the City’s 2013 Special Initiative for Recovery and Resiliency, South Shore beaches and bluffs “are more exposed to erosion and damage.” The report called for shoreline protection “in vulnerable locations along the coastline.” The City’s 2015 OneNYC report listed “investments to improve low-lying shorelines across the city, including…the South Shore of Staten Island” as a coastal defense priority. In April 2016, the City announced the first phase of its $100 million Raised Shorelines initiative to shore up low-lying neighborhoods and “make the city safer during extreme weather.”
Later in 2016, the City announced a resource reallocation to inject extra funding into the Build it Back housing recovery program. Reports indicated that some monies would be transferred from Raised Shorelines to Build it Back, but that other accounts would fill in the gap.
In addition to today’s remarks, Congressman Donovan and Council Member Borelli sent the below letter to Mayor de Blasio inquiring about the Raised Shorelines program.
August 21, 2017
Hon. Bill de Blasio
Mayor, City of New York
New York, New York
Re: Raised Shorelines funding
Dear Mayor de Blasio,
We write to inquire about the status of $100 million originally planned for the City’s “Raised Shorelines” resiliency project, including $33 million earmarked for Staten Island.
It is our understanding that the City reallocated the Raised Shorelines funding to cover Build it Back’s cost overruns, but that City capital dollars would replace the diverted federal monies to avoid any delay or “funding gap.” The City has worked diligently and collaboratively to advance Staten Island’s Army Corps of Engineers “seawall,” but, as you know, neighborhoods south of Great Kills Park will not benefit from that project.
That’s why the $33 million in Raised Shorelines funding slated for Staten Island’s South Shore is so important. Neighborhoods from Ft. Wadsworth to Great Kills will see reduced flood risk from the Army Corps seawall, and Tottenville residents will benefit from the Living Breakwaters and dunes project underway by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. A critical gap exists between Great Kills and Tottenville which the Raised Shorelines initiative will help fill.
We understand the immense complexity of implementing a comprehensive resiliency plan for all of New York City, and we appreciate the progress that your Office of Recovery and Resiliency has already made. We respectfully ask that you or an appropriate designee please share with us the status of the Raised Shorelines resiliency initiative, specifically the $33 million planned for Staten Island’s South Shore. We know this funding is not intended as a comprehensive solution to flood risk in the region, but incremental progress is important.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Daniel M. Donovan, Jr.
Member of Congress
Minority Whip, New York City Council