HUNTS POINT — Hurricane Sandy narrowly missed devastating Hunts Point when it struck three years ago, and the city wants to make sure the neighborhood does not have to rely on luck to survive any future disasters.
The Economic Development Corporation has put out a Request for Proposals for a consultant to help implement a plan that could reduce the risk of flooding in Hunts Point and develop a resilient energy project for the neighborhood.
The project is meant to ensure that Hunts Point is prepared for natural disasters and extreme weather, as the main reason the area was not seriously harmed during Hurricane Sandy was because the storm struck when the western part of Long Island Sound was at low tide, the RFP says.
"If Sandy had arrived earlier ... the result would have been devastating for infrastructure providing critical services to the rest of the city," reads the RFP. "Flooding could have overwhelmed parts of the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center in The Bronx, thereby threatening facilities that are responsible for handling as much as 60 percent of the city’s produce."
Sandy highlighted not only the distribution center's vulnerability to rising flood waters but also to power outages that could be caused by extreme heat waves or infrastructure failures, according to the RFP.
Daniel Zarrilli, director of the Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency, thus stressed that the project coming out of the RFP should be able to help Hunts Point recover from multiple types of disasters, not just hurricanes.
"These sorts of investments are multifaceted in that they do address multiple risks," he said. "Yes, it could be flooding. It could also be an extended heat wave. It could be anything—a squirrel chewing on the line somewhere."
The consultant that the RFP seeks would provide engineering, environmental planning and public engagement services and come up with one or more projects that would help make Hunts Point more resilient.
Submissions are due by 4 p.m. on Jan. 29, and the consultant should take about 1.5 years to complete their tasks. The city has $45 million for the first stage of the resiliency efforts in Hunts Point.
Bronx Community Board 2, which covers Hunts Point, passed a resolution at Wednesday night's meeting requesting that the city make coastal protection its top priority for the Hunts Point resiliency project, as members felt this would provide the most benefit to the community.
"What good would energy and backup generators be if you’re sitting in five feet of water?" asked Ralph Acevedo, chairman of the board's environmental committee.
Zarrilli emphasized that the project coming out of the RFP should advance both flood prevention and resilient energy in the neighborhood.
"We are advancing both because both are important," he said. "We heard loud and clear from the community that both are important."