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Seaport City Study Focuses On Levees, Not A New Neighborhood

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Officials gave an update on the feasibility study underway in Lower Manhattan for the so-called Seaport City plan, that offered little in the way of hard details but did present a clear antecedent: the city will be looking to its Dutch brethren for assistance. The City announced the hire of Netherlands-based firm Arcadis as the lead consultant on the engineering side of the project, and pointed to cities like Rotterdam and Hamburg, Germany as precedents for New York to emulate as it seeks to make its shores less vulnerable to flooding due to increased frequency of extreme events like Hurricane Sandy and higher sea levels due to climate change. "The Netherlands has done very well," noted Peter Glus, an Arcadis' representative.

Working in concert with the Economic Development Corporation, the city will complete the feasibility study of the area that assesses existing conditions and risks for future flooding in the area and makes recommendations to increase the area's resiliency to such disasters by spring 2014, provided that mayor elect Bill de Blasio continues with the current plans for the study when he takes over the helm of City Hall from Michael Bloomberg on Jan. 1. Residents in the past have balked at the study, claiming the plan will pave the way for more luxury developments in Downtown, though officials did not talk about plans for an elevated neighborhood, and told Community Board 1 last night that Seaport City was just a convenient name.

"That's how it was labeled, but really if you want to be accurate, we're studying a multipurpose levee system," said Alejandro Baquero, a representative from the EDC. "One of the big questions we want to answer is that does this even work from an engineering perspective."

Members of Community Board 1 last night had some other concerns. "With a levee system in place, where exactly is the water going?" One board member noted. "It's gotta go somewhere."

"I'd hate to save one side and drown another," another said. "Like the West side of Manhattan or Brooklyn."

The city maintains that in addition to temperature increases of 4-6 degrees Fahrenheit by the 2050s, a rapidly changing climate will increase the number of days with severe rainfall, raise the risk of coastal floods, precipitate a sea level rise of 11 to 24 inches and increase the number of days in the city of over 90 degrees from an earlier baseline of 18 to closer to 60?making New York City's climate on par with Birmingham, Alabama, according to Daynan Crull, a representative from the Mayor's office.
?Eli Rosenberg
· Seaport City coverage [Curbed]
· Arcadis [official]