These are the climate resiliency projects to watch in New York City

NY1: New York City is entering a new era in the struggle to adapt to the threats of climate change. 

Last September, Hurricane Ida — and the deadly flooding it caused — shocked the city even after a summer of intense rainfall, debilitating heat and smoke-filled air, renewing concerns over how unprepared the urban infrastructure is for the effects of climate change. 

The controversial plan to rebuild East River Park as a flood barrier for the Lower East Side — the signature resiliency project of the administration of former Mayor Bill de Blasio — overcame two key legal challenges in the mayor’s last days in office in December, allowing construction to finally begin years after the plan was finalized.

Now, Mayor Eric Adams has taken office with a post-Ida resiliency plan already released. Two more plans will be released this year: a major report on adaptation from the city’s climate resiliency office, and a separate plan on resiliency projects for all five boroughs required by a recently passed law to be released by years’ end.

The city has a long laundry list of resiliency efforts that are at various stages of development, including several that Adams indicated he would “fast track” in his post-Ida plan. Some, like adapting neighborhoods around Jamaica Bay, have been in the works since before Hurricane Sandy, and others, like NYCHA’s resiliency needs, have yet to be fully priced out. 

The city is facing a crucial period over the next few years, adaptation experts say, and needs to offer as many fully realized plans as possible to be competitive for billions of federal dollars flowing from the $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill passed in November. 

“As climate effects get worse, we’re realizing how far behind we are in implementing these,” said Rob Freudenberg, vice president of environment for the Regional Plan Association. “In some cases we have good solutions for what can be done. So we have to make sure we get things done.”

The resiliency work of the next several years will need to happen with both major physical developments along shorelines and within neighborhoods, as well as in the nuts-and-bolts world of finding funding sources and creating new regulations, said Kate Boicourt, a director at the Environmental Defense Fund who focuses on the region’s coasts and watersheds. 

The administration already faces a requirement from a law passed by the City Council in October to create a citywide resiliency plan this year, and can also expand guidelines for resilient development, she said.

“It's on the Adams administration to further develop those guidelines into a scorecard for resiliency,” along the lines of the current building emissions scores, Boicourt said. “It’s a technical, hard thing to do, and he needs to take that on.”

Here is an introduction to some of the resiliency efforts that will take center stage during the Adams administration. Read more>>