—Michael Bloomberg's plans for New York City after Hurricane Sandy won't include seawalls, but he said other coastline protections such as levees, jetties, berms and dunes could be in the works.
In a lengthy speech before the New York League of Conservation Voters in lower Manhattan on Thursday, Bloomberg said he has directed deputy mayors Cas Holloway, Linda Gibbs and Robert Steel to conduct a comprehensive review of city preparedness and recovery operations. Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corp., will craft recovery plans for the hardest hit communities — the Rockaway peninsula in southern Queens and shore-exposed area of Brooklyn and Staten Island.
"Over the past month, there has been a lot of discussion about seawalls. It would be nice if we could stop the tides from coming in, but King Canute couldn't do it — and neither can we, especially if, as many scientists project, sea levels continue rising," Bloomberg said. "However, there may be some coastline protections that we can build that will mitigate the impact of a storm surge from berms and dunes, to jetties and levees."
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a probable candidate for mayor next year — when Bloomberg will not seek re-election — last month had called for the Army Corps of Engineers to study building seawalls, moving power lines underground and elevating subway platforms. Quinn wanted the federal government to pay $20 billion for such efforts.
"We are not going to leave the Rockaways or Coney Island or Staten Island's South Shore. But we can't just rebuild what was there and hope for the best," Bloomberg said, with no reference to dollar amounts. "We have to build smarter and stronger and more sustainably. And Seth and his team will be working with all of our city agencies, and lots of outside experts, to determine exactly what that means."
Bloomberg also announced that Marc Ricks, a former chief of staff under Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, will take a temporary leave of absence as vice president for infrastructure at Goldman, Sachs & Co., to help the rebuilding.
Former Vice President Al Gore praised city officials, but said: "We have to take steps to reduce the chance that even worse impacts will happen in the future."
Moody's Investors Service rates the city's general obligation bonds Aa2, while Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings assign AA.