Queens elected officials and community leaders joined representatives from the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR) on Thursday, Feb. 10 to cut the red ribbon on the completed $5.5 million in resiliency upgrades in Broad Channel, a low-lying island in Jamaica Bay.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato joined Lieutenant Gov. Brian Benjamin and GOSR’s Executive Director Katie Brenan, for the ribbon-cutting at the Broad Channel Athletic Club, located at 125 Cross Bay Blvd.
“Our climate is changing, and major storms are more frequent, as we were reminded earlier this fall when Ida wreaked havoc in Queens and across New York. Through our community-driven grassroots process, GOSR is helping to ensure these vital community centers remain the safe spaces that Broad Channel residents depend on and that they are able to provide critical resources and recovery assistance in the event of the next storm,” Brenan said.
GOSR’s project includes major enhancements to make the Broad Channel American Legion Hall Post 1404 and Broad Channel Athletic Club, two crucial community centers that aided in recovery efforts following Superstorm Sandy in October 2021, better able to withstand future storms and emergency events.
With the completion of the Broad Channel Resiliency Project, Governor Kathy Hochul said south Queens and the area’s vital community centers will be “safer and better able to provide the services New Yorkers need when disaster strikes.”
The project was a culmination of city, state, and federal partners coming together to address the devastation that Superstorm Sandy once wreaked on New Yorkers, Benjamin said.
“Climate change is here, and one of its most devastating impacts is the effect of rising storms on neighborhoods like Broad Channel. With this $5.5 million investment, the state can better ensure the protection of critical community organizations, including the Broad Channel Athletic Club and American Legion Hall,” Benjamin said.
Broad Channel, the only inhabited island in Jamaica Bay, is prone to flooding and was one of the most severely impacted areas by Superstorm Sandy. The community experienced the loss of life, housing and infrastructure.
Bridges connecting Broad Channel to the mainland of Queens were closed, which left many residents stranded on the island as it was enveloped by storm surges as high as six feet and by backdoor flooding from the Rockaway Inlet. During the storm, the American Legion Hall and Athletic Club served as crucial gathering points for residents to assist one another and distribute food and supplies — despite damages the storm inflicted on these facilities.
Key elements of GOSR’s resiliency investment include:
- Installation of permanent backup power generators that are elevated above flood level at both facilities. The generators will automatically start functioning when needed and are equipped with flood venting and leak detection.
- Construction of a new building at the Athletic Club with meeting space, storage capacity and power equipment to enable the facility to provide outdoor relief services.
- Installation of flood-resistant doors at the Legion Hall as well as elevated mechanical and electrical systems to help avoid outages during flooding events.
- Upgrades to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system at the Legion Hall so that the facility can act as a heating/cooling center for the community during extreme weather conditions.
The project was completed in partnership with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY).
DASNY President and CEO Reuben McDaniel III said they’re proud to collaborate with GOSR on the Broad Channel project, as well as those around the state, that are critical for protecting and rebuilding areas impacted by severe weather.
“We’re grateful to Governor Hochul for her continued support of this important initiative and her commitment to strengthening communities all across New York,” McDaniel said.
Queens lawmakers applauded Hochul and the government agencies that worked to advance the Broad Channel Resiliency Project.
“New York City continues to experience severe weather events hitting areas like Jamaica Bay hard,” Congressman Gregory Meeks said. “I applaud Governor Hochul for the completion of the GOSR project, which will help Jamaica Bay better withstand future storms.”
The congressman said he is continuing to work with his colleagues on the federal level to ensure the funding from President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill goes to areas like Jamaica Bay to continue resiliency efforts.
Addabbo and Amato, who both represent Broad Channel, reflected on the long road to recovery from Superstorm Sandy.
“This ribbon cutting ceremony is cause for celebration here in Broad Channel. This community was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, and to be able to now say that we have more resiliency measures in place means they will be better protected from future storms,” Addabbo said.
While Superstorm Sandy decimated the community, Amato said they had a united front and worked together to reach this accomplishment.
“We are thankful for Governor Hochul’s fierce support for storm recovery and know that the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery will continue to work with the resilient people of Broad Channel and all other communities affected by these dramatic storms,” Amato said.
City Councilwoman Joann Ariola congratulated the Broad Channel Planning Committee and the Broad Channel Civic on a job well done.
From Superstorm Sandy to Hurricane Ida, Richards said that Queens is far too familiar with the devastating impacts climate change can have on vulnerable communities like Broad Channel.
“Queens also knows the critical importance of resiliency efforts like these to defend against sea level rise and future storms. By ensuring the Broad Channel American Legion Hall Post 1404 and Broad Channel Athletic Club, two critical hubs of this South Queens community, are more resistant to flooding, the government is taking a proactive approach toward supporting and empowering Broad Channel families if and when another major storm strikes. Thank the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery for its efforts here in ‘The World’s Borough,’” Richards said.