Thursday, October 02, 2014

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NY1 Exclusive: Designers Present Ways to Protect City Against Climate Change

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TWC News: NY1 Exclusive: Designers Present Ways to Protect City Against Climate Change
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A big effort is continuing to protect the city against climate change and storms like Hurricane Sandy, and 10 groups of designers are meeting this week with unique, if sometimes expensive, ideas with a goal to win millions of dollars in federal funds and perhaps avert another weather disaster. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

The image you see above is a 3-D model now, but if brought to life, it would reshape much of Manhattan.

It would look like a giant U made up of barriers with two uses: keeping out floods, while providing a daily value for people, like benches.

"It's to contribute to a vibrant urban environment, a vibrant urban realm, to provide places for people to play, to work even," said Jeremy Siegel of BIG.

A similar dual-pronged goal is eyed for Staten Island. Reefs would break waves while also attracting aquatic life.

"We've heard from Staten Islanders over the many months of public engagement that one, Staten Islanders love the water and want to feel reconnected to the water, but two, that there's a certain degree of fear relative to the water," said Kate Orff of SCAPE.

The projects are the brainstorms of Rebuild by Design, a contest run by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. At stake is millions of dollars in funding. Designers met Wednesday and Thursday.

Some call for vast changes to the coastline. One reshapes the map with eight new sets of barrier islands.

The final goal is not better storm barriers, but paths to remedy many challenges.

"There's no one issue that stands on its own," said Henk Ovink of Rebuild by Design. "Climate change and sea level rise and storms also come together with social and economic vulnerabilities, and Sandy showcased all those vulnerabilities. Now, we want a better way forward."

There are 10 finalists. On Wednesday and Thursday, they met for midterm presentations.

There are already plans to make the city more resistant to higher sea levels. Many were outlined in a book that Mayor Michael Bloomberg released last year. Officials involved in both programs say that the two aren't in competition.

Like Hunts Point. It's at risk of flooding, even as food moving through there feeds 22 million people. Plans call for it to be not only more resilient to floods but more inviting for local residents.

Winners will be announced in the spring. It may be years, if ever, before the projects are built.

Organizers say that the important thing is forward action, even as memories recede of Hurricane Sandy.

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