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Residents Look to Strengthen and Rebuild Red Hook Against Future Storms

By Nikhita Venugopal | November 20, 2013 4:54pm
 Community members gathered Tuesday night for the second New York Rising public meeting to discuss strategies to increase resiliency in Red Hook.
New York Rising Meeting
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RED HOOK — Strengthening Red Hook against devastating storms is a priority for residents, but not at the expense of the former industrial port’s history. 

More residential developments would help rebuild and revitalize the neighborhood, community members said Tuesday night at the second public meeting of the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program, a state initiative to assist communities damaged by recent weather disasters.

But development for Red Hook, both physical and economic, means mixed-use buildings and affordable housing — not high-rise towers, said John McGettrick, a committee member and Red Hook resident.

“We are not looking for a rebuild of Williamsburg,” he said.

Last month, a list of needs and opportunities for the neighborhood were compiled at New York Rising’s first meeting in Red Hook.

Roughly 70 community members met at the Miccio Center Tuesday night to generate ideas for transportation, increasing the physical and economic resiliency of housing and businesses, emergency preparedness, protection against floods, improving drainage and alternative power sources.

Red Hook needs a local bus to lower Manhattan, most agreed, along with other ideas like mobile clinics, a flood-proof emergency center and coastal protection through flood barriers, according to presentations and committee members.

“A lot of these issues that Red Hook is dealing with were systemic before the storm,” Gita Nandan, the committee co-chair for New York Rising in Red Hook.

Public meetings in January and February will help prioritize community-generated ideas to tackle those needs while also addressing cost, feasibility and funding opportunities.

Their goal is to create a “Final Community Reconstruction Plan” by March with projects, weather-related or otherwise, that will benefit the neighborhood.

City agencies and organizations will be approached to plan and fund projects once the report is completed, she said.

“Within each strategy, there could be hundreds of projects,” said Ian Marvy, co-chair of the planning committee.

But selecting projects is still in the future as they continue to gather ideas, he said.

Marvy, who co-founded Added Value, a local nonprofit, estimates that they’ll have about 30 projects next year that could be prioritized and funded.

“But what’s important is that the community’s developed them, has ownership over them and then is ideally continuing to work on them over time,” he said.