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Plan to Shield NYC From Future Storms Rests on Next Mayor, City Says

By Colby Hamilton | October 30, 2013 10:13am
 Mayor Michael Bloomberg and local elected officials discuss resiliency plans for Coney Island on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and local elected officials discuss resiliency plans for Coney Island on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.
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DNAinfo/Colby Hamilton

CONEY ISLAND — On the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted a year of progress, citing nearly three-quarters of the short-term resiliency goals identified by the administration as soon be completed.

According to Bloomberg, 43 of the 59 short-term resiliency projects identified by the administration are done or nearly done — from floodgate repairs in Oakwood Beach on Staten Island, to bulkhead repairs along the Belt Parkway in Southern Brooklyn, to tens of thousands of cubic yards of sand replacement on Coney Island.

“This is a city that has experienced great catastrophes before, and every time we’ve come back stronger than ever,” Bloomberg said at a press conference in Coney Island Tuesday. “I think it’s safe to say we’re doing that today, one year after Sandy.”

But the vast majority of the resiliency goals identified by the Bloomberg administration are still in limbo, and will become the responsibility of the next mayor. A proposal Bloomberg discussed on Coney Island on Tuesday was a case in point.

The city has plans for a new levee and tidal barrier system around renewed and restored wetlands along Coney Island Creek, which could be instrumental in mitigating the sort of surge damage caused during Sandy.

But the plan's initial feasibility study hasn't been completed, and officials said the project could take as long as 10 years to finish. It will require millions of dollars in as-of-yet unallocated local, state and federal funding, and it will be up to the new administration to make the plan a reality, said Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway.

“As long as they stay focused on making sure projects like this get the attention that they need, once it’s designed and funded and in the capital plan, then it can roll forward and it can get done,” Holloway said.

“These first few years are really the key,” Holloway said. “If [the resiliency plan] sits on a shelf, then that could be [it] for a very long time.”

State Sen. Diane Savino, whose district stretches from Staten Island into Brooklyn and encompasses Coney Island, said she plans to keep after whomever is elected next week.

“I guarantee you Mr. Mayor, we are going to make sure we see that the next administration puts into action your proposals,” Savino told Bloomberg.

The Bloomberg administration's post-Sandy roadmap, released earlier this year, laid out 257 specific policy proposals to help protect the city against climate change-related threats after last year's storm.

Both mayoral candidates have released broadly worded platforms promising to continue the Sandy rebuilding process, while committing themselves to improving the city’s defenses against future storms.

Republican Joe Lhota praised Bloomberg's plan as “commendable,” but hasn't said whether he'll follow Bloomberg's blueprints or how he’ll get the projects done.

Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio has also praised Bloomberg’s “comprehensive plan for rebuilding a more resilient NYC” on his website, and said he plans to improve hospitals’ storm-preparedness and expand natural storm barriers.

But de Blasio has not released the details on which parts of the current administration’s plan he would like to make a reality, nor has he released a timeline or a proposed funding source.