Thursday, May 09, 2013

On A Day Of Massive Flooding In Gowanus, Local Politicians Ask City To Evaluate Hydrological Impact Of Large Elevated Sites Like Lightstone Group's In Flood Prone Area

Gowanus Rain 9-23-11 B
Rendering of proposed Lightstone Group's Project on shore of Gowanus Canal
image credit: Lightstone Group

It would seem appropriate that on a day that saw heavy rains and flash flooding in the Gowanus area, our elected officials sent a letter to City Hall to ask if the "potential for adverse hydrologic impacts upon surrounding properties resulting from re-grading of large sites within flood hazards areas" has fully been investigated.

In the letter addressed to Deputy Mayors Cas Holloway and Robert Steele yesterday , Councilmember Lander, Congresswoman Velázquez and State Senator Montgomery specifically mention the 12 story, 700-unit Lightstone Group's project at 363-365 Bond Street.

Lightstone intends to re-grade their building site by raising the site of the development by two feet at First Street to address FEMA's recently released post-Sandy Advisory Base Flood Elevations and to comply with changes to the Building Code.

Since the Gowanus Canal was originally engineered to drain the upland marshland surrounding the canal in order to keep water away from residences in Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, this change in hydrology raises serious concerns about flooding and drainage in the Gowanus area. It may mean more problems for nearby residents, who deal with flooded basements on an regular basis.

Lander, Velazquez and Montgomery are asking City Planning "if re-grading could-even in a limited set of circumstances- lead to such impacts, how will such impacts be evaluated?
For example, would the Department Of Buildings confer with the Department of Environmental Protection before approving building permits for a re-graded site in a flood hazard area, such as that planned for 363-365 Bond Street?"

Further, Lander, Velazquez and Montgomery believe that " it would be better to bring all stakeholders to the table to develop a comprehensive plan for the infrastructure, flood protection, and land use regulations needed for a safe, vibrant, and sustainable Canal area. We should seize this opportunity to create an innovative model for low-lying, mixed-use waterfront areas on a warming planet."

It is encouraging that our Electeds recognize the hydrological impact to surrounding areas if developers like Lightstone's are allowed to re-grade the Gowanus area.

We need a new hydrological study before any new development moves forward.


Anonymous said...

There is more discussion on the flooding on Brownstoner:

Marlene said...

We need more than an hydrological study before any new development goes in. We need real work to take place that corrects the current unacceptable conditions!
It is not enough for the city to just tell us to get out the bleach and to wash our hands, and just get on with life again, while making the situation worse with every new development that goes in.

The yesterday's flood disaster on 4th Ave to Nevins and Union to 3rd St has everything to do with the loss of the gravel rail yard up at the new arena site, the numerous highrises on 4th Ave, and new higher elevations on the Whole Foods site.

How can the city be so stingy with new infrastructure while giving away the store to developer who don't have to live here?
If there is any truth to development tax revenue enriching the city, then there is no excuse for this. 4th Ave development has been going on for years now, and the arena should be kicking in it's share by now too.

adele said...

My nearby neighbors by Union & Clinton told me that they had some flooding in their basement at the peak of yesterday's downpour. They were especially concerned because their basements are not prone to flooding, even during heavy downpours such as we had yesterday, and amazingly enough even during Hurricane Sandy their basements remained dry. I am now wondering whether the infrastructure changes in the gowanus are having an impact in this area.
Did anybody else have wet basements/sewer backups from yesterday's storm in areas that are not in the flood zone?

Anonymous said...

This flooding is due to small old combined sewage so either NYC replaces storm pipes with bigger pipes or NYC needs to build green infrastructure. It has nothing to do with development. It is just a result of a paved City. See:

Anonymous said...

The irony here is that if the City requires Lightstone to buld significant amounts of on-site storm water capture and/or detention then the entire community would benefit. the simple facts are there is currently too much impervious surface, not enopugh sewers to handle the drainage for big rain storms and not enough natural areas to help control runoff...Lightstone or any redevelopment if done correctly with the right on-site stormwater controls will help relieve the conditions not make it worse...and That's what we should be deamnding of the City..