A Beach for Lower Manhattan: Good Idea?

On Monday, Mother Jones reporter Kate Sheppard was on The Leonard Lopate Show to talk about how coastal communities along the East Coast – including New York City - are adapting to rising sea levels and the ongoing threat of repeated floods. In her article “Under Water,” Sheppard wrote that, although Hurricane Sandy might have been a “100-year flood,” city officials have been repeatedly warned that global warming and rising water levels leave New York increasingly susceptible to major amounts of flooding.

This week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced two new development initiatives for lower Manhattan as part of his vision for a post-Sandy New York. The first is a “Seaport City” project involving a platform or landfill extending into the East River, adding acres of space for new apartments and office towers. The Bloomberg Administration says these buildings could act as a levee in the event of a future hurricane, built tall enough to withstand water surges.

The second is a sand beach that would extend from the Brooklyn Bridge up to 38th Street. And while East River waters might be too polluted for this beach to compete with Coney Island or The Rockaways, it could transform a somewhat-desolate stretch of coast into something more beautiful.

But Lower Manhattan is still recovering from hurricane Sandy. It may take years to reopen South Ferry station. Is it really worth sinking upwards of the proposed $27 million into an area that could easily flood again?

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