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LICIC Natural Waterfront
LICIC Natural Waterfront

The waters of the East River around 44th Drive in Long Island City are deep and choppy, but steps are being made to allow residents more access to water in spots like Anable Basin.

Real estate developer TF Cornerstone has announced plans to restore and enhance the natural waterfront habitat at the Long Island City Innovation Center.

“We really don’t spend that much time lingering in the cove area as it is not protected from the main current,” said David Matten, senior administrator at the Long Island City Community Boathouse, a nonprofit that is dedicated to kayaking and environmental education on the East River. Matten has worked at the community boathouse for nine years.

TF Cornerstone will remove an old platform and restore a half acre of waterfront for the benefit of the environment and people alike.  The sloping shoreline will feature boulders and rocks, which will be interspersed with plants. It’s unclear when the project will be completed but once it’s done, visitors will be able to travel down to the water’s edge.

Matten attended a June 25 public meeting hosted by Economic Development Corporation where the agency asked community members for their thoughts about potential designs for the waterfront. While controlling erosion was of the essence, Matten said he and others pushed the department to limit the environmental impact of the project on the marshland there.

“You can build this the same as the rest of the waterfront where you can’t touch the water or you cannot let it build up,” Matten said.

Bioswales — manmade sloped areas filled with vegetation designed to drain, concentrate and remove water — will be installed in the low-lying area to prevent flooding during severe storms. Piles that supported the old platform will be left in place to minimize the disruption to the river bottom and provide habitat for the river’s marine life and wave attenuation in order to calm the waters in the cove and reduce wave impact along the shoreline.

Preservation and restoration are in the works not only to create a welcoming and sustainable public space for Long Island City residents, but to also protect the community from rising sea levels and coastal storms which are becoming increasingly more severe due to climate change, according to a press release from TF Cornerstone, which has developed properties in the adjoining area.

In 2017, the real estate management and development company, TF Cornerstone, along with the nonprofits Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center and the Coalition for Queens, were chosen to create a new, mixed-use development in the hopes of bringing affordable industrial space, workforce training, offices, a school, affordable housing and public space to the Long Island City waterfront.

“It’s a forward-thinking approach that all waterfront developments in our coastal city must take in this era of climate change,” said Roland Lewis, president and CEO of Waterfront Alliance, a nonprofit organization that works to influence the development and use of the waterfront of New York City and northern New Jersey.

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