Staten Island includes some of the region’s most diverse coastline, with miles of sandy beaches, tidal wetlands and urban waterfront offering stunning skyline and harbor views. The St. George waterfront in particular is home to thousands of residents, businesses, historic sites and critical infrastructure – including the Staten Island Ferry Terminal which provides essential transportation to millions of commuters and visitors each year.
However, like the rest of our urban coastline, Staten Island’s waterfront is threatened by increasingly frequent and severe storms. Superstorm Sandy – which destroyed waterfront neighborhoods and infrastructure, causing at least $50 billion in damage and killing more than 100 people -- made painfully clear that flooding and storm surge pose a serious threat to our communities, economy and way of life. In St. George, storm surge tore off and shifted a massive concrete fishing pier, inundated the lower floors of multiple residential buildings, flooded waterfront walkways, streets and plazas and further damaged an already impaired bulkhead designed to protect public roads, private property and park land.
The time has come to make St. George and the rest of Staten Island’s urban shoreline all it should be – a safe, clean, accessible and resilient waterfront space that provides real flood protection for the residents, businesses, historic sites and critical infrastructure that line the island. Restoring and strengthening Staten Island’s shoreline is a critical step in creating a greener, more sustainable and economically vibrant 21st Century waterfront, with equitable public access, restored natural shoreline, floodable open space and well-protected coastal communities all around our urban harbor.
For the NY-NJ Harbor region and waterfront communities like St. George to be greener, more resilient and truly thriving, we must encourage President Obama, New York Gov. Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bloomberg to continue working together to restore our urban shoreline by investing in projects -- like improvements to St. George’s waterfront -- that provide multiple community and flood protection benefits. We urge our leaders to join forces across bureaucratic and political lines to invest funding provided by Congress after Hurricane Sandy to transform this critical section of waterfront and help build a stronger, safer and more sustainable urban coastline.