Firm seeks input for post-Sandy Nassau infrastructure work

A proposal by Interboro Partners planners of Brooklyn A proposal by Interboro Partners planners of Brooklyn suggests placing channels along boulevards of Long Beach to prevent flooding during serious storms. Photo Credit: Interboro Partners rendering

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Officials from a Brooklyn-based architecture and urban design firm said Tuesday they have assembled a team of national and international experts to come up with ideas for making Nassau County's South Shore more storm-resilient by hardening the region's infrastructure, while also addressing issues such as environmental concerns and housing needs.

The Interboro Partners officials, who addressed the Long Island Regional Planning Council meeting, said they are starting a community outreach phase to get input from localities affected by superstorm Sandy.

"We're not coming in as experts telling people what to do," said Daniel D'Oca, an Interboro Partners principal. "We want to share thoughts with the council and hear what the council thinks."

Local input is critical, suggested council member John Venditto, Oyster Bay Town supervisor.

"Many regional projects have had unhappy endings for lack of communication with localities," he said.

The firm is one of 10 design teams in the federally funded "Rebuild by Design" program, an initiative of President Barack Obama's Hurricane Sandy Task Force and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Each team has been given $100,000 to develop plans for certain Sandy-affected areas in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Georgeen Theodore, another Interboro Partners principal, said later that the team's officials planned to meet later Tuesday with officials from Long Beach, one of the areas of focus for Rebuild By Design.

Theodore sketched out for the council some ideas that have emerged from the "diverse group of experts from around the world" the firm has assembled. She ticked off a dozen entities -- "half American and half Dutch" -- with expertise from water management to urban design to economic issues.

"Nassau County is special because of the incredible devastation" it suffered from Sandy, the density of its population and its natural resources, she told the council.

Interboro Partners' project is called "Living with the Bay: Resiliency-Building Options for Nassau County's South Shore."

Theodore spoke of a collection of interrelated projects that would address both emergency issues and everyday matters. The design team proposes building a berm around the Bay Park sewage treatment plant, which Sandy's stormwaters knocked offline for days, causing the release of more than 100 million gallons of raw sewage. A secondary use of the berm would be to provide public recreational opportunities, Theodore said.

Theodore said the design team also is thinking about housing issues. The ideas include building "some protective land to surround some of these housing areas," and in other locations filling in low-lying areas to create higher land on which housing could be built.

Other ideas include digging channels below ground level along Long Beach's north-south boulevards to absorb the overflow from the bay during storms.

Planning council chairman John Cameron, an engineer, said that idea must be "vetted more." One concern, he said, is how digging below ground would interfere with the city's sewer lines.

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