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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Roosevelt Island Hurricane Sandy Damage Update - Lighthouse Park Still Closed For Unknown Amount Of Time, Soil Erosion Collapsed Ground At Southpoint Park Seawall

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez (who resigned effective December 21) updated the November 29 meeting of the RIOC Board Operations Committee on damage suffered by Roosevelt Island from Hurricane Sandy.

Mr. Fernandez repeated his earlier report to the Operations Committee that Lighthouse Park was severely damaged with the pedestrian bridges washed away and light poles damaged requiring the park to be closed for an indefinite period of time.

Image of Closed Lighthouse Park Entrance From Volker Hage

Mr. Martinez added that there was additional damage to the Cultural Center that had some of its windows blown out and significant soil erosion damage to Southpoint Park seawall area. RIOC Director Michael Shinozaki confirmed the soil damage noting that he noticed during a walk of the area that the ground was collapsing in portions of Southpoint Park and urged that warning signs be placed in the area.

Mr. Martinez also recommended that the Feral Cat Shelter in Southpoint Park, which is located near the area of the unstable ground, be moved.

Here's the full Roosevelt Island Hurricane Sandy Update briefing from November 29 Operations Committee

and earlier November 15 Hurricane Sandy briefing as well.

What does Cornell NYC Tech think about potential damage to Roosevelt Island from future Hurricanes? According to the Cornell Daily Sun:
... In order to ensure that the tech campus will withstand the damage caused by any future storms, officials said architects are taking as many precautions as possible in constructing the campus.

To prevent damage from hurricanes and other weather-related events, the windows, panels, roofing and other elements that surround buildings will “meet or exceed the latest codes,” David Keating, a spokesperson for CornellNYC Tech, said.

The possibility of flooding and rising sea levels as a result of climate change are also being taken into consideration, according to Keating.

“For the Roosevelt Island site, our plans have always included provisions to raise the current level of the site and locate sensitive systems high above floodplain levels,” he said.

Central walkways and the ground floor of all buildings will be raised to an elevation of 19 to 21 feet in accordance with various regulations and guidelines, he said.

Officials are still considering how to implement other elements — including “emergency warning systems, security, communications, lighting and other campus systems” — to safeguard the Roosevelt Island campus against natural disasters, Keating said....
The Real Deal adds:
... construction plans have not changed drastically in the wake of Hurricane Sandy because Cornell had already taken a fairly conservative approach, with all entrances planned for 19 feet above sea level.

“We believe global warming is real. It’s going to get worse and worse,” he said. The university may now require entrances to be slightly higher, he said....
As previously reported:
... New RIRA President Ellen Polivy said that suggestions have been made to Cornell NYC Tech (and Cornell is considering) that the design of their new campus include plans to "Shelter In Place" for the Roosevelt Island community in the event it becomes necessary in a future emergency....
Crains NY Business also reports that Cornell is considering Ms. Polivy's suggestion:
... The remaining question is whether the university can take on island residents in a crisis—a population that would dwarf the 2,500 students and 300 faculty members who will eventually inhabit the two-million square foot campus.

"One thing that Sandy has done for us is that it put these sorts of issues in the forefront," Mr. Winters said.
Mr. Winters is the Cornell NYC Tech Director of Capital Projects and Planning.


CheshireKitty said...

Could RIOC prioritize the repairs to Southpoint so that at least we continue to have that park to go to (since Lighthouse park is closed down indefinitely). Please post the warning signs but do not shut it down altogether for repairs - anyway, if it was closed down, then the FDR park - which was not damaged - would be inaccessible. Not that FDR is much of a park.

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deetelecare said...

I didn't realize until now the erosion at Southpoint....more reason why the seawall, which hasn't been touched since the 1980s, is a major long term project all around RI.

CheshireKitty said...

Millions (probably) have to allocated to raise the level of Lighthouse Park -- just like the level of FFP is way above sea-level. If they raise the level the cut with the walkway can just be filled in. Building up the site means not only will the entire park landscape as we know it will change, but the Lighthouse will need to be dismantled and reassembled at the tip of the island. That and as you say the needed repairs to the entire sea-wall - necessary and costly. I hope FEMA comes through with the money to repair Lighthouse Park but RIOC should look into not just a repair but a reconstruction of the park to include raising the level of the park. Maybe some Goldwater debris could be used to fill in Lighthouse Park, then fill that in with gravel and finally replace the turf and plantings and reassemble the Lighthouse. Otherwise, if/when there's another big flood, the same thing - inundation and damage - will happen to Lighthouse Park. As far as Coler is concerned - it beats me what can be done. It's an engineering problem of figuring out a way to protect it. At least the mechanical systems could be moved to a higher floor - which I think NYU/Bellevue/many buildings in Lower Manhattan are also doing.

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