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National Leaders Discuss Waterfront Resilience Post Hurricane Sandy

Shaun Donovan

MAS and the Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE.) at Columbia University teamed up to host, New York City Sink or Swim: Principles and Priorities for Waterfront Restoration in a Post-Sandy Era on December 13. The half-day conference was held in Lower Manhattan, and brought together the leading experts in costal resilience from both New York City and the Netherlands to discuss and debate how the New York metropolitan region can recover from Hurricane Sandy.

Sink or Swim included keynotes from US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan and US Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ken Salazar. Secretary Donovan made a plea for a more thoughtful planning process that takes a critical look at how we rebuild smartly and strategically, while Secretary Salazar spoke to the importance of individuals being patient as the parks and historic sites in the New York Harbor begin to rebuild. The Dutch perspective came from Jos van Alphen, special advisor to the Netherlands’ Delta Commission, who provided the audience with an overview of strategies employed by the Dutch to secure their waterfront open spaces from risks associated with natural disasters.

One of the key points made repeatedly throughout the conference was that the leadership for our region’s response to climate change, and our attempts to improve our resilience, must come from our own city officials highlighting priorities and providing needed direction to state and federal officials. Video footage of the conference is available on YouTube.

Sink or Swim received extensive media coverage in a number of outlets, including The New York Times, Crain’s New York Business, and The Atlantic Cities. See below for links to those articles:

The New York Times, “Storm Recovery Won’t Be ‘Business as Usual’ Official Says

Crain’s New York Business, Next Time, New York May Go Dutch

The Atlantic Cities, “Even the World’s Top Experts Aren’t Sure What New York Should do to Prevent Another Sandy

MAS will continue to lead the conversation around rebuilding more resiliently with a series of events throughout 2013.

Next month, on January 12th, we invite you to participate in Charting the Road to Resilience: From the Ground Up – Policy Planning and Process, a convening of dozens of neighborhood stakeholders for a free, day-long event, developed and organized by community leaders, focused on shaping the response and goals for building a stronger New York, from the ground up. We will work together with a number of our partners from New Orleans and groups throughout New York City, to share experiences from Hurricane Sandy and to begin crafting a set of priorities for the built environment and for strengthening our communities and neighborhoods.