Mayor Michael Bloomberg laid out a strategy on Dec. 6 to reexamine New York City’s major infrastructure in light of Sandy and how it can be protected from any future storms. He also announced that Seth Pinsky, president of New York City Economic Development Corp. (NYCEDC), will develop recovery plans for hardest-hit communities.

Photo by Spencer T. Tucker

Deputy Mayors Cas Holloway and Bob Steel will oversee Pinsky’s work, Bloomberg says. In addition, Marc Ricks, an infrastructure expert and vice president of infrastructure at Goldman Sachs but had previously served the Bloomberg Administration, will be taking a leave of absence at the investment giant to help the city with the rebuilding plans. They are set to cover public and private housing; hospitals; schools; transportation; parks; as well as businesses and non-profits, including cultural institutions such as the New York Aquarium, Bloomberg says.

“The biggest challenge that we face is adapting our city to risks associated with climate change,” Bloomberg says. But the mayor adds that the city is “not going to abandon the waterfront” and that “we just have to build smarter and stronger and more sustainably.” He says that that the new plans, however, will not include the building of sea walls despite many recent discussions and that there may be some other coastline protections that can be built, such as dunes, jetties, and levees.

Bloomberg also cited his 2007 sustainability initiative, PlaNYC 2030, as already having taken significant steps to prepare the city for rising sea levels and “increasingly intense” storms. He noted that some of the city’s newest waterfront developments including Hunters Point South and Arverne by the Sea, both in Queens, suffered little damage in the storm because of the requirement of climate risk assessments for major developments in vulnerable areas and the requirement to elevate those developments out of flood plains.

In addition to preparing the city for future storms, Bloomberg says that the potential impact and mitigation of all types of severe weather must also be addressed including record level heat and rainfall.

“We also have to be mindful not to fight the last war and miss the new one ahead,” Bloomberg says.