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Congresswoman Calls for Investment in NYC Waterfronts

by Katharine O'Marra
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Congresswoman Nydia Valezquez

Katharine O'Marra, WFUV

Proposed bill would promote resilience and environmental sustainability on New York's waterfront.

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez announced a bill Tuesday morning that would invest in New York City’s waterfronts.  She discussed the “Waterfront of Tomorrow Act” in Brooklyn Bridge Park with local activists present. The bill would promote environmentally sound and resilient infrastructure development along the city’s ports and harbors.

Under the proposed law, federal agencies such as the Army Corps Engineers and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be enlisted to examine ways to make New York City’s waterfronts more resilient to storms and environmentally friendly. This could include improving infrastructure with tide gates, seawalls, or reef and wetland restoration.

The bill would designate waterfront areas meeting job creation and environmental sustainability criteria as “Green Ports”. These ports would receive grants and technological assistance for further innovations.

The law would require further research into the release of pollution from industrial facilities during natural disasters and methods of mitigating such pollution.

The proposed legislation comes in response to widespread waterfront damage following last year’s Superstorm Sandy and the threat of ongoing climate change.

Tom Fox is the founder of New York Water Taxi and president of Tom Fox and Associates. He has observed a need for development on New York’s waterfront.

“You just have to see the tide rising and the water coming over the tips of the piers and flooding the soccer fields and things like that to understand that there needs to be a design element that builds in resiliency to these new facilities,” Fox said.

According to Congresswoman Velasquez, New York City’s waterfront is a major part of its economy and needs to be protected. In a single year the region’s ports see over $180 billion worth of cargo and employ over 260,000 people.

“Some have described water as New York’s sixth borough,” she said, “this bill invests in that borough so that it can reach its full potential.”

Congress is set to discuss legislation regarding the nation’s waterways when it returns from recess this September.

 

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