As sea levels continue to rise, difficult choices are facing Edgemere and many other communities around New York City, and the outcomes of the strategies used here will only become more relevant in the years to come.
The Resilient Edgemere plan presents a variety of short- and long-term projects for the neighborhood, comprising zoning changes, new residential development, and transportation improvements. Some of the highlights include a $14 million investment into creating an elevated berm along the neighborhood’s unprotected coastline, a $68 million investment into NYCHA’s Beach 41st Street Houses, and the elevation of 41 attached homes above flood risk levels.
The most striking physical changes proposed in the plan are a new rocky shoreline that could replace the existing salt marsh habitat along the coast of Jamaica Bay, and the numerous illustrations showing that the northernmost part of Edgemere’s residential community, on Beach 43rd Street above Norton Avenue, would be replaced by open space and a new park. “As a proposal of de-densifying the area above Norton Avenue, the short-term tool there would be to change the zoning so that new construction of housing would not be possible,” explains Morris. “Over the long term, this area would transition from a housing area to a less-housed area. What that means is maintaining the balance of the population of the community and moving it to a safer space.”