How to Counteract a Cataract
BPCA to Host Meeting Tonight on Wagner Park Flood Measures
Tonight (Monday, June 24) the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) will host the fourth in an ongoing series of public meetings that will determine the shape of resiliency measures to be constructed soon on the community’s southern flank, near Wagner Park and Pier A.
This session will take place at Six River Terrace (opposite the Irish Hunger Memorial and next to Le Pain Quotidien), starting at 6:00 pm. (Admission is free, and all interested members of the public are encouraged to attend.)
The primary focus of this evening’s session will be to present a conceptual design for a series of overlapping flood barriers that will begin near the Museum of Jewish Heritage, wrap around Wagner Park, and then extend eastward (along the perimeter of the Battery) to Bowling Green.
The centerpiece of this system will be a structure on the site of the current Wagner Park pavilion, a building that houses Gigino’s restaurant, and is much prized by area residents because its design elegantly frames a view of New York harbor and the State of Liberty.
Among the design parameters that emerged at the March 12 meeting about Wagner Park resiliency was the strong likelihood that this building will have to be demolished.
Based on community concerns, the BPCA and its design team (headed by engineering firm AECOM) examined multiple options for preserving the structure — among them reconstructing it atop a new berm that would act as a bulwark against incoming water.
But each scenario yielded minimal protection against the storm surges and rising sea levels associate with climate change, while also incurring the maximum expense. Even in the variation that would replicate the building on the crest of a newly construct ridge, the treasures view of the Statue of Liberty from street level would be blocked by the higher ground needed to stave off flooding.
As AECOM engineer Heather Morgan noted at the March 12 meeting, “no matter what you have to do to hit that design flood elevation,” a metric required by federal regulators, ” your view in relationship to the rest of the site will be altered and changed or blocked.”
BPCA and AECOM planners also considered responding to community concerns about initial plans for a larger pavilion by creating a hill to act as a flood barrier, without a rebuilt pavilion structure.
Because the Wagner Park resiliency project aims to counter a 100-year storm, the design criteria calls for protection that extend between 14 and 18 feet above current elevations in the park.
The current (and still provisional) design outline envisions a menu of counter-flooding measures stretching between the Museum of Jewish Heritage and Bowling Green. The Museum itself, in this scenario, would be reinforced with dry flood-proofing measures, while a concealed flood wall would be built from the Museum through Wagner Park to Pier A Plaza. From that point, a mixture of deployable flood barriers and berms integrated into the landscape would extend to Broadway and State Street.
This scheme is still being refined, and one goal of tonight’s session will be to present an updated version of the plan, which incorporates public feedback from previous meetings. Input from residents at tonight’s discussion will also be incorporated into another meeting, scheduled to take place before the end of this year, at which a finalized design will be unveiled.
Once the design process is complete, construction work is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2020, with the aim of having the project completed sometime in 2022.
At the March 12 meeting, BPCA chairman George Tsunis said, “this is incredibly important work. The Authority thinks that it’s the single most important thing we will be doing over the next couple of years and we want to do it right. We want to make sure that the resiliency work that we do is lasting. I think the most important component is a lot of input from the community in which we serve. I think sometimes a lot of boards like ours forget that and I’m grateful to have Board members who never let us forget that it is about a community input and cooperation and reaching out and just having respect for everyone’s opinion. So I promise you we will always be available, we will be open to dialogue, our doors are always open.”
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