Brooklyn Boro

Once-a-decade opportunity to plan the city’s waterfront coming up in Brooklyn

February 21, 2020 Mary Frost
This path wends its way along a berm on Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo: Lore Croghan/Brooklyn Eagle

It’s not every day city residents can help shape the future of New York City’s 520-mile waterfront. In fact, the opportunity comes only once every 10 years.

A series of public workshops are being held to update the city’s Comprehensive Waterfront Plan for the next decade.

The Brooklyn workshop will take place on Wednesday, March 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St.

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The Department of City Planning, in collaboration with the Waterfront Alliance, is hosting the series to enable people to get involved in issues that include climate change, public access to the waterfront and jobs. More workshops will take place in other boroughs in the future, and ideas are also being solicited through an online survey. The Comprehensive Waterfront Plan will be released at the end of 2020.

“Waterfront residents are the people most impacted by our waterfront planning decisions,” Brooklyn Councilmember Justin Brannan, who leads the Committee on Resiliency and Waterfronts, told the Brooklyn Eagle in August. “If we don’t listen to people from these communities, we cannot very well serve them. Any planning policy needs to be driven by public needs, and no one knows those needs better than the public.”

Many of the goals set in the last Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, released in 2011, are underway. Ferry service has dramatically expanded; there are new parks and greenways; buildings have been designed to withstand flooding and some coastlines have been buffered. Red Hook’s interim flood protection design includes a combination of temporary Hesco barriers and Tiger Dams, but these are just a stopgap until permanent mitigation is constructed.

Interim flood barriers in Red Hook. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle
Interim flood barriers in Red Hook. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

Thorny issues for the future remain. These include equity of public access; restoring the quality of polluted creeks and canals; emergency response to flooding and dealing with decrepit waterfront infrastructure.

The upcoming Brooklyn workshop will begin with a short presentation from DCP on what the Comprehensive Waterfront Plan is, its history and the current state of the city’s shoreline. From there, breakout sessions by community district will allow attendees to discuss local waterfront issues.

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DCP has planned more events to get people involved in the planning process. In May, DCP will partner with nonprofit arts organizations Culture Push and Works on Water to walk all 520 miles of NYC’s waterfront in one month.

DCP’s webpage for the Comprehensive Waterfront Plan can be found at nyc.gov/waterfrontplan.


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