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Mayor de Blasio Announces Additional Resiliency Investments in Lower Manhattan, Part of Comprehensive Climate Adaptation Plan Underway Across City

March 14, 2015

NEW YORK--Mayor de Blasio announced today that the City is committing millions of dollars to further resiliency planning and implementation around Lower Manhattan, part of a comprehensive climate adaptation plan underway across the five boroughs.

This includes $6.75 million from the City and State for comprehensive flood protection planning below Montgomery Street and around the tip of Lower Manhattan to the west side, and another $8 million in City capital funds for Battery Park flood protection design and implementation -- both aimed at protecting Lower Manhattan residents, businesses, and infrastructure from future extreme weather while enhancing the vitality of the area.

The City's resiliency plan proposes a significant rethinking of Lower Manhattan using a combination of integrated flood protection measures to control storm surge and prevent flooding. Building on those recommendations, the City will conduct advanced planning for integrated flood protection strategies to prevent and mitigate upland flooding around Lower Manhattan, from Montgomery Street south to the Battery and up to the west side of Manhattan to the northern terminus of Battery Park City at Jay Street.

This will build on the City's participation in the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Rebuild by Design competition, and complement the plans for an integrated flood protection system already underway north of Montgomery Street. It also dovetails with measures already underway around Lower Manhattan, including major infrastructure upgrades (such as the storm hardening of utilities), critical funds for post-Sandy economic development and small business recovery, improvement, and resiliency, other short- and longer-term coastal protection projects, and much more.

The City and the New York State Governor's Office of Storm Recovery are funding a total of $6.75 million in advanced planning funding for comprehensive flood protection in Lower Manhattan from Montgomery Street south to the Battery and up the west side to the north end of Battery Park City. This includes $3 million in City funds, part of the City's latest CDBG-DR Action Plan submitted to HUD this winter, and $3.75 million in State funds committed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo through the NY Rising Community Reconstruction (NYRCR) Program's Planning Committee for Lower Manhattan‎.

The City is also funding $8 million in capital dollars for flood protection design and first phase implementation in Battery Park.

These funding commitments were planned in collaboration with local elected officials and other key Lower Manhattan stakeholders.

"These investments mark another step forward as we build a stronger, more resilient New York," said Mayor de Blasio. "Lower Manhattan residents and businesses know too well just how devastating Sandy was to this community. By putting in place immediate resiliency measures along Battery Park, while also launching planning and design for broader integrated flood protection, we're helping to ensure that Lower Manhattan is better prepared next time extreme weather hits. These investments are also part of a much larger, multi-layered resiliency plan that we're implementing in Lower Manhattan and around the five boroughs. Thank you to the State and our local partners for their continued collaboration on these investments and much more."

"Superstorm Sandy caused significant damage to communities throughout Lower Manhattan, but today we are continuing to build the region back stronger than before," Governor Cuomo said. "By learning the lessons of Sandy and other extreme weather events, we can make New York a safer and more resilient place for people to live and work, and I am proud to see these projects moving forward in collaboration with our local partners."

"Hurricane Sandy vividly highlighted the vulnerabilities that Lower Manhattan faces from sea level rise and coastal storms. That's why the City is committed to investing in flood protection in Lower Manhattan to complement other recovery and resiliency investments already underway," said Daniel Zarrilli, Director of the Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency. "With these new funds, we are ensuring that we can take the critical next steps on advancing planning and design for a comprehensive and integrated flood protection system in Lower Manhattan, while also making a set of first-phase investments in Battery Park that will reduce risk. Thank you to NY Rising and the entire community that helped make this possible."

"Through our innovative NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program, we see the work of a true grassroots planning and implementation process in action," said New York State Executive Director of Storm Recovery, Jamie Rubin. "From start to finish, the initiative strives to empower storm-impacted communities and leverage local resources along the way. We know that New Yorkers will benefit tremendously from these recovery and resiliency efforts, as Lower Manhattan is reimagined for the new realities of extreme weather."

"We must make sure that New York City is better protected and stronger when the next storm hits our coastline and that's why it's so important that New York City is investing millions of dollars to further resiliency fortify our central business district in Lower Manhattan. I fought hard in Congress to secure federal funding in the Sandy Relief Bill to be used for projects like the one Mayor de Blasio is announcing today. These resiliency efforts, along with HUD's Rebuild by Design projects will further protect vital infrastructure, residences and businesses in and around Lower Manhattan and Battery Park in the event of a major flood event," said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

"Lower Manhattan was extremely hard hit from Superstorm Sandy. The entire neighborhood was flooded at historic levels with water rushing in from the East and Hudson River. With sea level rise and climate change occurring it is clear that these intense storms will be happening with greater frequency and we must plan for the future and implement resilency measures now. That is why today's announcement is so vital. The $8 million in capital investments in the Battery Flood Protection Program is both a design and first phase implementation which will be an initial storm protection for Lower Manhattan businesses and residents now. And the $6.75 million being allocated to plan future flood protection is a down payment on future resilency measures. I applaud the Mayor and the Governor for allocating these Federal, State and City funds to insure that lower Manhattan is protected now and in the future." said Rep. Jerrold Nadler.

"Lower Manhattan was one of the areas hit hardest by Sandy, as whole neighborhoods from the Seaport to Battery Park City found themselves underwater," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "You could make a good case these neighborhoods constitute the historic, civic, and economic heart of our city -- which is why it's critical we take all necessary steps to protect them from extreme weather events. I thank Mayor de Blasio for investing funds to protect lower Manhattan."

"Our buildings are still standing, but there's no question that Lower Manhattan is in serious need of protection," said State Senator Daniel Squadron. "These dollars will get protection built at Manhattan's southern tip and are a big step for planning from Montgomery Street to Battery Park City. The city's acknowledgement of Lower Manhattan's resiliency needs as part of its massive citywide plan is a great sign of its responsiveness. I am pleased that working with Downtown Alliance, Community Board 1, Councilmember Chin, the City and my colleagues, we were able to secure this funding and thank them, along with Community Board 3, LESReady! and the entire community for all of their advocacy."

"I am gratified that we were successful in bringing additional flood protection measures to Lower Manhattan," said Assemblyman Sheldon Silver. "This area absorbed a serious blow from Superstorm Sandy and areas such as the South Street Seaport were completely flooded. These actions will begin to protect this important community from future storms and represent a commitment to take additional needed steps to better protect Lower Manhattan."

"Our city must continue to do more to protect Lower Manhattan from natural disasters, and that's why I worked alongside my local elected colleagues, Community Board 1 and other neighborhood stakeholders to collaborate with the Mayor's Office and strongly advocate for this new resiliency funding," said City Council Member Margaret Chin. "This is a critical investment in the future of Lower Manhattan's booming residential and business community, and I thank Mayor de Blasio for hearing our call and taking this step forward."

"This funding marks an important and tangible step towards addressing Lower Manhattan's need to be ever more prepared and resilient. We are happy to see the city and state taking this action are proud to have been a part of the effort to make this a reality," said Jessica Lappin, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York. "Not only does essential planning work continue but we are now putting dollars directly into shovel-ready work in Lower Manhattan that will meaningfully contribute to long term, lasting solutions."

"This is an example of good government where the both the City and State come together to work with the local community to come up with a real solution to address the immediate threat of sea level rising. Manhattan Community Board 1, here at the tip of Lower Manhattan, is surrounded by water on three sides and took the full force of Superstorm Sandy," said Catherine Hughes, Chair of Community Board 1. "Today's announcement is a welcome first step of many future steps needed in planning for a resilient future for downtown and all New York."

The Battery Park City Authority said, "Planning for future resiliency measures in Lower Manhattan is of tantamount importance. We look forward to working with the City and State to help develop a cohesive plan for the future."

Warrie Price, President of The Battery Conservancy, said, "The historic Battery is where New York began. Where better to begin this stage of its development and protection? Our historic tip of Manhattan was hit hard by the Superstorm and we need to prevent future damage from the rising sea level. This is a fine example of the City and State working together and producing great results for the local community. We look forward to working more with the Mayor and local electeds and thank him, along with the State, for taking the necessary steps to help us plan for a strengthened, resilient future."

The City will release an RFP in the coming months for a consultant team to advance conceptual design work around Lower Manhattan. In addition to an integrated flood protection strategy, the study will also examine potential secondary benefits, which could include improved or expanded waterfront access, stronger connections between neighborhoods, and enhanced water quality and habitat. Advanced planning activities to be undertaken include design, planning, community engagement, environmental review, and more. The study will look at integrated flood protection along a densely urbanized section of waterfront that includes significant transportation infrastructure (such as highways, terminals, tunnels, subway stations, and more), as well as significant tourism, open space, and parkland. It will also advance full design and construction of a first-phase capital improvement project within Battery Park to provide resiliency protection and protect critical infrastructure, while also enhancing the aesthetic and visitor experience of Battery Park itself.

The City's work will be spearheaded by the Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR), which leads the City's efforts to build a stronger, more resilient New York. ORR is guiding the City's work as it strengthens coastal defenses, upgrades buildings, protects infrastructure and critical services, and makes homes, businesses, and neighborhoods safer and more vibrant.

The State's efforts to increase the resiliency of Lower Manhattan were spearheaded by Governor Cuomo's grassroots NYRCR Program, managed by the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR). Announced by the Governor in April 2013, NYRCR established volunteer, citizen-based Planning Committees that would - over an eight-month period - incorporate local needs and assets into actionable project proposals. In their final plan presented to Governor Cuomo in April 2014, the Lower Manhattan NYRCR Planning Committee proposed an evaluation of the area.

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