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City To Restore 68-Acres of Wetlands on Staten Island

By Nicholas Rizzi | December 24, 2013 9:49am
 The city has put out a request for developers to restore 68-acres of wetlands at Saw Mill Creek Marsh.
The city has put out a request for developers to restore 68-acres of wetlands at Saw Mill Creek Marsh.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

BLOOMFIELD — The city has put out requests for developers to restore a 68-acre path of wetland in Staten Island that has been littered with waste for years.

Last week, the city's Economic Development Corporation put out requests for expressions of interest to restore the site. The city previously put out requests in May to restore up to 10-acres of the site.

The cleanup will be the city's first wetland mitigation bank program, where developers who restore parts of the Saw Mill Creek Marsh get credits to sell to others who want to build on coastal properties in other parts of Staten Island.

“Wetland mitigation banking is a promising approach to supporting ongoing waterfront revitalization while engaging in important environmental protection and restoration work in our City,” said Kyle Kimball, president of the EDC, in a statement.

“Hundreds of thousands of acres in natural areas across the country have already benefited from mitigation banking efforts, and as New York City’s waterfront continues to reactivate, the time is right to pilot this project and direct critical resources towards wetland restoration in the boroughs.”

State law requires developers who want to build on or near wetlands to restore the land in order to mitigate the environmental impact of their project, which can often be time consuming and pricey.

The EDC said the law leads to smaller mitigation sites with a higher risk of failure, which can be avoided with mitigation banks.

Instead of having to mitigate on site, the developers can purchase the credits that fund wetland-restoration at other sites — like Saw Mill Creek Marsh — which will presumably off-set the environmental degradation of their projects.

"This pilot project will demonstrate that wetlands banking can serve the public interest by protecting at-risk environments and reducing the complexity of development in NYC for projects such as infrastructure and affordable housing,” said Maria Gotsch, president and CEO of the Partnership Fund for New York City, in a statement.

Saw Mill Creek is a brackish creek that empties into the Arthur Kill River with a watershed of about 100 acres of tidal wetlands, marshlands, mudflats, and riparian zones. The site has been plagued with illegal dumping for years and is overrun with weeds, the EDC said.

The deadline to submit proposals is on Feb. 14, 2014.