Bullet Points: Fidler Pushes Green Plan For Future Flood Protection

“Bullet Points” is our format for Community Board 15 meeting coverage, providing takeaways we think are important. Information in Bullet Points is meant only to be a quick summary, and some issues may be more deeply explored in future articles.

Councilman Fidler Lays Out Green Vision For Coastal Protection: If anyone thinks a seawall will protect Southern Brooklyn from future Sandy-like tidal surges, they need look no further than Sea Gate to put that false theory to rest, Councilman Lew Fidler told Community Board 15 at their meeting last night.

“A lot of people think that you can just build a wall and that will solve all the problems. I suppose if you know people in Sea Gate, you can ask them whether or not that solved their problems,” he said.

Fidler added that the cost of erecting a seawall around the southern end of New York City would be around $5 billion, a hefty price tag for an uncertain solution.

Instead, Councilman Fidler, who said he has held and attended numerous City Council committee hearings on Superstorm Sandy and preparations for future threats, said the city should fight nature with nature.

He has written a letter to the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), which is helping spearhead the city’s investment in coastal protections, urging officials to consider enhancing the wetlands, a natural barrier to flooding and storm surges.

“I suggested that they look into replenishing the wetlands that used to be so prolific here in Gateway and along the Southern Brooklyn waterfront, but has been disappearing, by large measures, every day,” Fidler said. “They absorb great amounts of water. And it will probably cost us a whole lot less than building a wall that might not matter.”

“The wetlands thing will not only help us all in Southern Brooklyn, but it’s ecologically and environmentally sound as well,” he added.

Fidler announced that he has also asked the agency to dredge Sheepshead Bay to prevent it from overflowing so easily. For decades, sand from Plumb Beach and elsewhere has drifted into the Bay, and mariners complain that their vessels bottom out at low-tide and the waters become unnavigable. At a meeting of the Manhattan Beach Community Group last week, the group’s president Ira Zalcman also stated the need for dredging, saying that more water spilled into the neighborhood from the shallow Bay than from the open ocean.

“It certainly can’t help the Emmons Avenue area in the least that that channel continues to be not only not navigable, or barely navigable, but not as deep as it should be when we have water surges,” Fidler said.

Aside from his green solutions to fighting flooding, Fidler also touted his support for the mayor’s latest proposal, a ban on styrofoam.

“Usually when the mayor proposes banning something, I tend to think it may be over the top,” Fidler said. “I am, however, with the mayor 1,000 percent when it comes to banning styrofoam.”

Fidler said it’s good for taxpayers, since styrofoam is not recyclable and adds to landfills, while a ban would spur a switch to recyclable materials like plastic, which provides the city with revenue and helps the environment.

Other elected officials:

  • Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein announced that FEMA has again extended the deadline to apply, this time to March 29. She said her office has been helping those who feel as if they were not adequately compensated by FEMA navigate the appeals process, successfully winning tens of thousands of dollars for constituents. “We’re the ammunition to appeal if you don’t agree,” Weinstein said, and urged anyone with a problem to call her office. Weinstein also said she has met with Sanitation to advocate for special Passover-related garbage pickups and has also sponsored a bill requiring swift review of property claims by insurance companies. “It may not be to help people now, but certainly to help people in the event of a future disaster,” she said.

Zoning items:

  • 2057 Ocean Parkway – An application for special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling. The home will be enlarged in the side and the rear, and is removing and octagonal turret. The request was for a waiver of zoning requirements for the side and rear yard. There were no objections from the public, and the Board approved it 26-1.
  • 2402/16 Knapp Street –  The Board approved with a vote of 26-1 an application to enlarge the existing auto repair shop building, and convert it to an 24-hour convenience store. This is the Mobile gas station across the street from the former site of Burger King on Knapp Street.

Other board actions and information:

  • Chairperson Theresa Scavo said that the Board’s budget requests to the City were all denied. The requests outline budget priorities for the neighborhood, and included items such as reconstruction of the Plumb Beach bike path and various park-related improvements, as well as infrastructure improvements like new streets and sewer lines in the old section of Gerritsen Beach. The City said they do not have the funding for any of the proposals. The Board voted to send a letter rejecting the city’s response.
  • Noor Rowe, the outreach director for the Voorhies Avenue mosque project sponsored by the Muslim American Society, informed the Board that construction on the mosque is moving along, albeit slowly. She said all the legalities have been settled.
  • Christine Dille, branch manager of the Gerritsen Beach library, noted that the library was hit hard, and that restoration will take longer than expected. She believes Gerritsen Beach library will see a fall reopening.
  • Raisa Chernina, director of the Be Proud Foundation, announced the organization will have its annual Passover food distribution event on March 21, at Aqua Health (2753 Coney Island Avenue). It’s a first come, first served event.
  • Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association President Ed Jaworski took to the podium to criticize the Board for not being more responsive to three neighbors, who last month asked that they reconsider their recommendation to approve a drug rehabilitation center near Kings Highway. The drug rehab center had its lease pulled by the landlord with help from Assemblymembers Weinstein and Steven Cymbrowitz are working on the issue, but Jaworski said the Board should have been more supportive of the neighbors, instead of telling them to take their fight to OASAS, the approving agency. (Clarification)
  • A representative for Councilman Domenic Recchia said the councilman is working with CUNY and the Food Bank of New York City to do free tax preparation at Astella Development Corp. Income requirements apply. To find out details, contact his office.
  • A representative for State Senator Marty Golden announced there will be an Easter egg hunt in Marine Park on March 23 at noon. She also said that the hotly-anticipated community center will open March 1.
  • Patrick Rheume, a representative for Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, said there will be a Town Hall with FEMA and the IRS on March 11 at P.S. 277.
  • The Sanitation Department has extended bulk pickup again, at least until Memorial Day. There will also be regular garbage pickup on the Monday after Passover, and there will be two dumpsters int he neighborhood to accommodate the disposal of bread products. One is at Madison High School, and the other is at 2810 Nostrand Avenue.
  • The Bill Brown Post Office remains closed and is suffering from mold problems.

Correction (February 28, 2013): The original version of this article stated that the drug rehabilitation center had its lease pulled by the landlord. This is a claim we are now working to verify, The claim, originally reported by Courier-Life, proved false and we have altered this article to reflect that.


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