Describe the site location:
The West Bay Meadowlands is a one square mile neighborhood of dense residential housing just north of the cross county bridge and spans the Tioga and Queens County shorelines. This neighborhood is located between industrial buildings, a marina on bay fill and a moderate tidal flat (which has significantly diminished in size from historical ca. 1800 conditions) during periods of low tide.
What would make this site a good fit for the design challenge?
Most residential communities in the Bay Area have some buffer between them and the Bay (e.g. industrial buildings, wetlands, beaches, seawalls etc.), but the only protection this low-lying community has is a five meter wall of riprap armoring the shoreline. In addition, this site experiences high wave energy, making it more vulnerable to storm surge, erosion, and other forces that make it a necessary site for future sea level adaptation planning. The recent increase in rainfall has resulted in multiple floods and thousands of dollars in damage to both public and private infrastructure. There is only one park in this area that is a popular spot for children and the elderly; however when it rains the park becomes flooded, dangerous and inaccessible.
There are six public housing buildings that have experienced significant structural damage which months later has still not been repaired. These buildings are at risk for being seismically unsafe as a result. This neighborhood has disproportionately high health risks from pollution burdens and other population characteristics, making it more vulnerable than other communities in the Bay Area. Therefore, increasing this community’s preparedness for storm surges and sea level rise is of critical concern.
What are the potential vulnerabilities that threaten the site?
The potential vulnerabilities that threaten this site include flooding, seismic activity, sea level rise and storm surge.
Do you know who owns or controls this land?
Since the main land use is residential housing, the majority of this site is private property. The public housing buildings are own and operated by the Kings County Housing Association. A few commercial properties, one public school and a few publicly owned small-scale parks exist in this neighborhood. The portion of the neighborhood located on the Bay shore falls within the Bay Conservation and Development Commission’s (BCDC) jurisdiction.
What’s threatened at this site?
Homes are the main elements threatened at this site, but some small residential roads, the public park and a few commercial businesses will also be impacted.
What local partners would need to be involved for it to be successful; what has their involvement been to date?
Communities for Local Environmental Awareness Now (CLEAN) is a local neighborhood group that has been raising awareness for this location for many years. The local homeowner’s association, the city’s planning commission and county representatives would also need to be involved.
What local plans exist or are underway in this area?
In 2006, Springfield Council Member Stevenson spearheaded a ballot measure to fortify the riprap and create a park along the shoreline however it was not approved. The only other relevant project known is the Adapting to Rising Tides project by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC).