“I truly believed this bill, which was approved by every member of the Senate and Assembly, would have been a step in the right direction towards addressing the dire need for flood mitigation and resiliency,” Sen. Addabbo said.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Governor Andrew Cuomo last week vetoed a bill that would have established a New York City Seawall Study Commission to determine the feasibility of constructing a strong wall or embankment along the city coastline to serve as a breakwater to protect residents from future extreme weather events.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach), who sponsored the measure along with Assemblyman Brian Barnwell (D-Maspeth), was disappointed in Cuomo’s action—but not discouraged.
“As I have witnessed devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy and the frequency of damage caused by subsequent storms, I truly believed this bill, which was approved by every member of the Senate and Assembly, would have been a step in the right direction towards addressing the dire need for flood mitigation and resiliency,” the senator said on Monday. “This bill would have created a New York City Seawall Study Commission, which at no expense to the State, would have quickly gathered data solely for the city areas prone to storm damage and determine the feasibility and timeframe for a seawall that has been discussed for decades. The fact that the study would have focused on New York City made it unique to the State Legislature and its veto by the governor only hampers our efforts to solve future flooding issues, at a time when we should be moving forward to protect an individual’s home, personal property and life. I appreciate Assemblyman Brian Barnwell’s work on this bill and understanding of the severity of the flooding issue. I am hopeful that we can pass the bill again during the upcoming 2019 legislative session and convince the governor to sign the bill into law.”
As Addabbo noted, the measure passed both houses unanimously in June. Under the legislation, a 14-member panel would be created within the State Department of Environmental Conservation, and chaired by the DEC commissioner. Members of the commission would be appointed by DEC, the New York Secretary of State, the Senate and Assembly, the City of New York, and the county executives of Nassau and Suffolk. According to the bill, appointees must have expertise in at least of one of these areas: climatology, hydrology, environmental science, aquaculture, oceanography, coastal ocean science, and engineering. Members would serve without compensation, but would be reimbursed for expenses associated with their work on the commission.
The commission’s study and recommendations must address the costs, impacts, and best possible locations for a seawall or seagate along the city coastline, and identify areas most at risk of storm surge, rising groundwater levels, saltwater intrusion, coastal flooding and other extreme weather dangers.