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Manhattan Borough President Unveils Plan to Fortify East River Waterfront

By Heather Holland | February 12, 2013 5:53pm

KIPS BAY — If all goes according to plan, the East River waterfront will not only be more attractive to pedestrians, but it will also be equipped to protect the coast against the next big storm.

In a new plan that was released on Thursday, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer highlighted ideal locations along the East River, from Brooklyn Bridge to 38th Street, to install fortifications that he says will protect the coast from future storm surges.

“What we have created here is a model that not only helps communities to re-imagine their waterfronts, but also helps to safeguard them at the same time,” said Stringer in a written statement. “In the end, this is a roadmap to recovery built by the community and for the community.”

Over the past year, partners of the East River Blueway project, including Stringer and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, have held several public meetings and planning sessions to gather input from community groups about what they would want out of their waterfront.

Using these findings, Stringer has promised to set aside $3.5 million in capital funding to help the East Rive Blue Way project — a larger initiative to provide New Yorkers with more access to the waterfront — and unveiled plans to add features along the waterfront that would protect the coast from future flooding.

Green spaces would be added to the East River coast, which would absorb water in the case of flooding, the proposal said.

In addition, the plan would extend existing wetlands under the FDR Drive from the Brooklyn Bridge all the way to Rutgers Slip at Rutgers Street. The wetlands would act like a sponge, absorbing and redirecting water offshore, according to the proposal.

Similar tactics are also proposed for Stuyvesant Cove, near 14th Street.

Finally, Stringer hopes to turn an inaccessible beach under the Brooklyn Bridge into a public waterfront destination that would also include green features to fortify the shoreline.

“Of course the Blueway must be part of larger, regional solution to protect our city,” said Stringer in a statement. “But as we now look to rebuild Red Hook and Coney Island in Brooklyn, Far Rockaway in Queens and the devastated shores of Staten Island, the Blueway offers a model of regional planning and engagement.”