Loans, Solar-Powered Light, Relief Centers Proposed for Red Hook Resiliency

By Nikhita Venugopal on March 18, 2014 5:31pm 

 A child stands astride his bicycle on flooded street in Red Hook after Hurricane Sandy caused extensive damage in the area on October 30, 2012. The Red Cross grant to the Brooklyn Community Foundation will go toward coastal neighborhoods like Red Hook, which were hit hardest during Hurricane Sandy.
A child stands astride his bicycle on flooded street in Red Hook after Hurricane Sandy caused extensive damage in the area on October 30, 2012. The Red Cross grant to the Brooklyn Community Foundation will go toward coastal neighborhoods like Red Hook, which were hit hardest during Hurricane Sandy.
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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

RED HOOK — Red Hook wants to strengthen itself against future storms and the community is proposing to do that with upgrades to the Red Hook Houses, loans for small businesses and residents, and a network of robust relief centers, among other things. 

Under the New York Rising Reconstruction Program, a state initiative to assist communities damaged by recent weather disasters, the neighborhood can spend $3 million on proposals that it feels would increase resiliency in Red Hook.

The final report, which will detail the projects as well as additional proposals that would strengthen Red Hook, will be submitted March 31.

“What the community will have is a plan that has immediate actions,” said Chelsea Muller, the regional lead for New York Rising.

In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state is developing a $200 million partnership with the city to construct a comprehensive flood management system in Red Hook —  the first of its kind in the neighborhood. But the state must still approve the community’s projects before funding and implementation, officials said.

For months, meetings with a small group of Red Hook representatives have been hosted to narrow down proposals that will best serve to revitalize the neighborhood.

At a Community Board 6 meeting Monday night, community member Carolina Salguero presented a skeletal look at the local committee’s eight projects that it would like to see funded by the state money.

At $1.5 million, the most expensive proposal would fund a network of relief centers that would equip locations like P.S. 15, the Red Hook Library and the Miccio Center, to provide aid after an emergency.

And $350,000 would purchase emergency back-up generators for potential relief hubs or even cooling centers during extreme heat.

“It’s kind of re-envisioning what a resilient neighborhood could look like,” Muller said.

Two proposals focused on resiliency within the Red Hook Houses, the neighborhood’s public housing complex. A $100,000 pilot project would install solar-powered emergency lights in the buildings’ stairwells. If successful, it would be expanded to all 30 NYCHA buildings.

Another proposal would fund a $300,000 feasibility study to determine whether a new source of power, like a “microgrid” or “cogeneration,” that can simultaneously provide heat and electricity, could work for Red Hook Houses. 

Some money would also directly benefit small business owners, homeowners and residents, such as a workforce-training program that would connect people with construction jobs and a $1 million proposal to provide financial assistance for upgrades and improvements related to resiliency.

Sandy caused severe flooding in low-lying parts of a Red Hook and a proposed $500,000 drainage study would look into the existing sewer and groundwater conditions in those areas. 

And although relatively low on the public’s priority for funding, ferry service expansion or a new landing at or near the Atlantic Basin would take $500,000 of state money. The proposal would only partly fund the proposed ferry enhancements and depended on finding a public or private sector partner to work with them.

The ferry proposal fell under an “economic resiliency” category that could potentially add jobs and increase transportation into the neighborhood, Salguero said.

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