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Queens Chronicle

City to study Howard Beach flood resiliency

Zoning, infrastructure to be looked at in areas hit by Hurricane Sandy

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Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:23 am, Thu Jun 19, 2014.

The Department of City Planning is conducting a study on flood resiliency in coastal neighborhoods around the city, including Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways.

Tom Smith, a city planner, said the study will focus on how the city can help prepare for future storms and mitigate common problems in several areas, including zoning, commercial districts and infrastructure.

“We’re going to look at what we can do to harden the shoreline to reduce the normal flooding,” Smith said.

In Howard Beach, the main focus areas for the study are along Cross Bay Boulevard and in Old Howard Beach, where most of the severe damage from Sandy occurred.

On zoning, Smith said City Planning will look at the possibility of changes to make building resilient homes easier.

On commercial zones, Smith said the study will focus on the business strip along Cross Bay Boulevard, which on the eastern side abuts Shellbank Basin, which overflowed its banks during Sandy.

The commercial study will also include Coleman Square and the area around the Howard Beach-JFK Airport subway stop, which was inundated by nearly 10 feet of water during Sandy.

Coleman Square, which sits in a marshy part of the neighborhood adjacent to Hawtree Creek, is also prone to flooding in heavy rainstorms and nor’easters.

On infrastructure, the study will become more broad and look at road construction, bulkheads along the shoreline and street ends, which are especially important in Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel where streets dead-end at the waterfront. Catch basins will also be looked at.

Smith added that the study will look at work done by other city agencies, both before and after Sandy, and suggestions made by New York Uprising — a panel of residents under a mandate from Gov. Cuomo to suggests ways to spend Sandy aid money on recovery and resiliency.

“We’re going to be inventorying all the work that has been done,” Smith said. “We’re going to look and see where their programs intersect, what’s been left out and get a good assessment on what everyone has done.”

Smith said the research could last several years.

The study will also include other areas of the city hit by Hurricane Sandy or that are flood-prone, including southern Brooklyn, coastal Staten Island, the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Edgewater Park in the Bronx.

Pending more funding, a phase 2 is planned to include neighborhoods like Arverne and Far Rockaway.

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