The Army Corps of Engineers has been tasked with producing a feasibility study on how to best protect the greater New York City area from flooding, a reaction to Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and sea-level rise caused by climate change. The New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study is expected to be finished by March 2021, and a decision on the best plan to move forward by the Army Corps of Engineers is expected by July 2022.
The Port Washington-Manhasset Office of Emergency Management facilitated a meeting between the Army Corps of Engineers, local groups, including the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee, the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee and Save the Sound, community members and local officials, set for Sept. 10.
“The Port Washington-Manhasset Office of Emergency Management looks out for the community and when we, like many in elected and appointed leadership, became aware of this issue, we reached out to the Army Corps to help facilitate a meeting,” said Commissioner of Port Washington-Manhasset Office of Emergency Management (also Deputy Mayor of the Village of Sands Point) Peter Forman.
However, on Aug. 29, the Army Corps pulled out of the meeting and the groups decided to cancel the public meeting in hopes that a future meeting date will be set. But on Sept. 3, the Army Corps of Engineers told Anton Media Group that the meeting will be rescheduled to Thursday, Oct. 24 and said the original meeting was canceled due to a scheduling conflict. The rescheduled meeting will take place at the Inn at Great Neck on 30 Cutter Mill Rd. in the first floor ballroom. The meeting will be from 5 to 8 p.m. with a presentation by the Army Corps and time for questions to be asked by the public.
“We look forward to open dialogue and addressing concerns,” Army Corps Public Affairs Specialist Michael Embrich said. “We’ll present some modeling and where we’re at in the area. The [feasibility] study is not going to be ready quite yet.”
Prior to rescheduling, local officials and activists responded to the canceled meeting and expressed their hope for a future meeting to inform the public about the different alternatives under consideration.
“It’s disappointing that the Army Corps of Engineers had to withdraw from this date because their analysis was not complete,” explained Forman. “We understand their goals of presenting the most current information they have and look forward to having a public meeting in the very near future. We hope that this will be a respectful, mutual exchange of both information, questions and concerns.”
Director of Save the Sound Tracy Brown explained that the groups involved didn’t see a point in having the meeting without the Army Corps there to give an update. She further stated the reason the Army Corps did not hold a public meeting in the spring was because they wanted to tweak or rework the Throgs Neck Bridge design and they would meet with the groups involved in September.
“Many of the local mayors, environmentalists and concerned residents I represent have asked me to push the Army Corps to hold another local meeting,” said Congressman Tom Suozzi in a statement prior to the postponement. “While I am disappointed the Army Corps canceled the meeting that I have been working to schedule since March, I am hopeful it will be held this fall and that the Corps will present useful data on the potential for induced coastal flooding in our area. The federal government has a responsibility to avoid, minimize and mitigate any action it takes that would impact the environment and the local communities and this meeting will be a good opportunity to update us on their thinking.”
State Senator Anna M. Kaplan expressed similar sentiments, stating, “I’m following this issue with a great sense of concern. Obviously, any structure being built in the waters off of my district could have significant impacts on my residents, as well as the environment. I am looking forward to meeting with the Army Corp of Engineers and having those concerns addressed, and I look forward to them scheduling a public information session as soon as possible.”
Assemblyman Anthony D’Urso, who is also the chair of the Long Island Sound Task Force, explained he was similarly disappointed the Army Corps decided to pull out of the meeting, but hopes the meeting can be rescheduled as soon as possible.
“I, like everyone else, am concerned about the proposed Throgs Neck tidal gates as the possible significant risk of flooding that could occur on the north shore if the barriers were to be built could be devastating to our communities and I believe that the Army Corps must pursue alternatives in which the north shore is not sacrificed,” D’Urso said.
Marco Schaden also contributed to this story.