April 17, 2013
By Marc Bussanich

Richard Anderson joins Seth Pinsky at a New York Building Congress to rebuild coastal neighborhoods in era of climage change
Richard Anderson (l.) and Seth Pinsky

New York, NY—The president of the Economic Development Corporation, Seth Pinsky, said in order to protect as many New Yorkers as possible from future dangerous storms because of runaway climate change the City will have to maximize the limited resources at its disposal. (Watch Video)

Speaking at a New York Building Congress forum at the New York Hilton, Pinsky told Labor Press that the City will need to analyze its 520-mile-long coast to determine which areas see the most investment.

“We need to look at the vulnerability of the various parts of the coastline and then look at what’s behind that coastline—the number of buildings, people, jobs and infrastructure—and then there are non-economic factors where vulnerable populations live,” said Pinsky.

He noted that the city should use all these factors to guide its efforts to rebuild neighborhoods slammed by Superstorm Sandy.

“We need to put all that together and prioritize. Our goal though is to protect as many people as possible with the resources we have, and to make sure we’re thinking about this in a multilayered fashion—so that it’s not just coastal defenses but making buildings, critical systems and infrastructure more resilient. The combination of all those we hope will make everyone in our city safer,” Pinsky said. 

After Sandy crashed through New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg convened 35 professionals from different professional organizations and tasked them to answer three questions: What happened during Sandy, and why? What is the future going to be for the City in the era of climate change? How does the City rebuild post-Sandy and emerge safer and more prosperous?

The professionals, working with officials in the private sector, the federal and state government and numerous city agencies, must submit a report to the Mayor in May that answers those questions.

Pinsky said the soon-to-be published plan will be ambitious, but also doesn’t overshoot.

“Some basic principles we’re following include maximizing resources to achieve maximum impact of each dollar spent and reducing impacts where possible while acknowledging that no defense is going to be perfect.”

During his State of the State address in January, Governor Andrew Cuomo famously said, “There are some parcels that Mother Nature owns,” in reference to the vigorous debate over whether to rebuild or conserve the City’s coastal areas.

Pinsky indicated the City’s plans for the coast.

“We’re going to fight as a city for our coastal neighborhoods, especially those that were impacted by Sandy and that’s because we believe we have a moral duty as a city to those who suffered the most, but also because we think that those areas provide us with a laboratory for trying to develop new best practices.”

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