Community leaders and students were gathered with officials from the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR) outside of P.S. 993Q/M.S. 72 in Rochdale Village on Thursday, May 26, to celebrate the completion of a green infrastructure project that will help mitigate flooding, enhance street safety and reduce pollution in the area.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at P.S. 993Q/M.S. 72, located at 133-25 Guy R. Brewer Blvd., where the pre-existing paved lot was transformed into a large multi-use community area with three rain gardens, educational space and resilient plantings, as well as a shade structure.
The gardens, which are tended to by the students, are being used as hands-on educational tools to learn about nutrition, biology, agriculture and water conservation. The project was completed in partnership with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.
The project is part of Governor Kathy Hochul’s $13 million initiative to install green infrastructure improvements across south Brooklyn and south Queens communities located near Jamaica Bay. The 123 constructed assets manage over 30 million gallons of stormwater annually.
In Far Rockaway, nine rain gardens were installed in the roadway curb line in the area between Beach 108th to 94th streets, from Rockaway Beach Boulevard to Shore Front Parkway. The project area includes Surfside Apartments and Belle Shore Condominiums. In Idlewild, 53 rain gardens were installed in the roadway curb line in the area between 135th Avenue to 142nd Avenue and 248th Street, from Brookville Boulevard to Hook Creek Boulevard.
“We remain laser-focused on funding projects that support our nation-leading climate goals,” Hochul said. “This $13 million green infrastructure project in Jamaica Bay will reduce pollution, mitigate flooding and enhance resiliency in the face of stronger storms. New York will continue to implement forward-thinking policies and make strategic investments to combat the effects of climate change.”
GOSR’s Executive Director Katie Brennan said green infrastructure helps New Yorkers both mitigate climate change and adapt to its effects.
“We are proud that this innovative project is making historically underrepresented communities in Brooklyn and Queens more resilient and better able to withstand future storms,” Brennan said.
During Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, these communities experienced heavy rainfall and storm surge which caused substantial flooding along roads, according to GOSR. Since then, FEMA significantly expanded flood mapping within these areas. Water acts as a natural border for these communities whether it’s Jamaica Bay, Fresh Creek or the Atlantic Ocean. The concentration of building types found within these communities presents numerous challenges to retrofitting for resiliency so green infrastructure is a much-needed tool.
“As we continue the historic $2.5 billion build-out of the southeast Queens storm sewer network, the addition of green infrastructure can help us manage stormwater, mitigate flooding and improve public safety,” said Rohit Aggarwala, commissioner of NYC Department of Environmental Protection.
Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks 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 Rochdale and the Rockaways to continue resilience efforts.
“New York City continues to experience severe weather events hitting areas like Rochdale and the Rockaways severely,” Meeks said. “I applaud Governor Hochul for the completion of the Comprehensive Green Infrastructure project, which will help these areas withstand future storms and emergency events.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards commended GOSR for channeling millions of dollars worth of green infrastructure investments in south Queens, while also centering resiliency and sustainability for the students who will one day inherit the borough.
“South Queens and the Rockaway Peninsula know all too well the devastating impacts climate change and extreme weather can have on our communities,” Richards said. “As storms like Sandy, Irene and Ida continue to threaten our borough each year, it’s never been more important to make the kind of investments our neighborhoods need to avoid destructive flooding and the dangers pollutants pose to our families.”
According to New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, who represents District 28, which includes Rochdale Village, installing new bioswales, rain gardens and other structures will not only mitigate flooding and improve water quality, but contribute to the fight against climate change.
“These critical investments are long overdue, and I am thrilled that the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery has completed this $13 million project that will benefit our communities,” Adams said.