Taking the podium at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York City Representative Nydia M. Velázquez introduced new legislation, called the “Waterfront of Tomorrow Act,” to protect and fortify New York City’s 538-miles of coastline. The bill would instruct the Army Corps of Engineers to come up with an in-depth plan to stimulate economic growth and job creation, update the ports, and implement flood protection measures. Sandwiched between Red Hook Container Terminal and One Brooklyn Bridge Park, a large residential development, the pier was an appropriate place for the Congresswoman to announce legislation that addresses the city’s needs to bolster its shipping industry while also taking steps to mitigate flooding and ensure the resiliency and sustainability of its residential neighborhoods, parkland, and businesses.
View of Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge Park. (Nicole Anderson)
“I think the part [of the bill] that was the most exciting was about protecting New York City from future floods, and most importantly talked about hard and soft solutions. Different parts of NYC will need different solutions,” said Rick Bell, Executive Director for AIA New York Chapter Center for Architecture. “This whole announcement talked about multifaceted approach.”
The bill is divided into four sections that propose flood protection and resiliency measures, a national freight policy, and “Green Port” designations and a grant program to promote the environmental sustainability of the shipping ports. The Army Corps of Engineers, in collaboration with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, will be charged with coming up with a strategy to protect the waterfront from severe weather patterns and rising tides, including tide gates, oyster reef restoration, and wetland restoration.
“Whether it is commerce, recreation, transportation, or our local environment, New Yorkers’ lives are inextricably linked to the water that surrounds us,” Velázquez said at the announcement. “Investing in our ports, coasts and waterfronts can improve our City and local communities.”
The timing of this bill is up in the air, but it will likely enter the conversation in September when Congress returns from the August District Work Period to discuss new legislation aimed at enhancing the nation’s waterways.