Village of Roslyn Mayor John Durkin sent a letter to a representative of the Army Corps of Engineers earlier this month voicing his concerns with developing plans to place a sea wall near the Throgs Neck Bridge to protect Manhattan from storm surges.
The Army Corps has been studying methods for shielding New York City and its eight million inhabitants from surging waters since Superstorm Sandy, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimated caused $19 billion in damages to the five boroughs. Several of the proposals for doing so, which were most recently presented to North Shore residents and politicians at an Oct. 24 meeting in Great Neck, involve placing a massive sea wall just west of the Throgs Neck Bridge. While the barrier would safeguard Queens, Manhattan and The Bronx, North Shore officials have opposed the plan on the grounds that stymied storm surges could barrel back into their communities.
“We understand the need to protect Manhattan from flooding, we saw what happened during Superstorm Sandy, but we don’t want to be the designated spillway,” Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth said at a press conference preceding the Oct. 24 meeting. “We’re most concerned with the potential for induced coastal flooding and water quality degradation that could result from the installation and operation of these proposed flood gates. It’s not OK for the North Shore of Long Island to be considered acceptable collateral damage.”
Durkin added his voice to the chorus of local opposition to the plan with the letter, in which he pointed out that surges from Superstorm Sandy rose above the village’s bulkhead and flooded its downtown. Placing a barrier near the Throgs Neck Bridge, Durkin wrote, would only exacerbate issues with flooding in Roslyn come the next major storm, and could cause irreparable damage to the harbor that local villages have worked hard to restore.
“Roslyn Village is part of a consortium of villages dedicated to the protection and preservation of our beautiful harbor,” Durkin wrote. “We, along with our neighbors, have worked for years to reclaim, restore and preserve this resource.”
Durkin addressed the letter to Bryce Wisemiller, Army Corps’ New York District project manager overseeing the project, and invited him to tour the area personally to see the communities that would be affected by the plan.
The mayor also noted that the flood zone in the Army Corps proposal includes a county sewage treatment facility, and that thousands of gallons of raw sewage washing into the area would do catastrophic damage to the environment.
Durkin concluded his letter by writing that while he appreciates the Army Corps desire to plan for future disasters, “any plan that does not include Long Island’s North Shore is only half a plan.”
—Additional reporting by Marco Schaden and Caroline Ryan