Murray calls for coastal protection plan

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City Manager Jack Schnirman said that he and other officials have already taken the first step. “The City Council clearly recognizes the urgent need to protect the city from future storms, and that’s why they voted unanimously to move forward with the Army Corps …,” Schnirman said. “We’ve said all along that the bay must be addressed as well, whether it’s within the confines of this project or a separate project. We’ve also put in a [state] grant application for storm-front mitigation for the bay.”

Though the Army Corps plan already has federal approval, Schumer is working to secure funding for it, which Congress may authorize this month. Murray called on the corps and the DEC to complete the specifications for the project.

“When it’s been some years, any plan is going to have to be updated, and what we’re doing right now is a limited evaluation report that began in 2010,” said Army Corps spokesman Chris Gardner. “… [W]e want to make sure that we use the most up-to-date technology and data, and that we can work toward something that’s agreeable to all the partners.”

Asked whether the corps would consider incorporating recommendations made in 2009 by the city’s independent consulting firm, Coastal Planning & Engineering Inc., to address flooding in Reynolds Channel and other issues, Gardner said, “It really depends on how feasible the recommendations are. The bayside would require us to start from the very beginning, and that would require [additional] federal dollars.”

He added that it was too early to determine how long the project might take to complete. “At this stage I really can’t speculate on a timeline, because it depends on actually receiving the funding and a variety of other factors,” Gardner said. “Once that’s approved, we would conduct an environmental assessment, and if everyone approves of the plan, the next step would be working toward design and construction.”

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