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Proposed sea gates in NYC to guard against storm surge draws concern from LI

The plans explore the feasibility of placing massive gates in the waters and sea walls on the shores to stem the tide during major weather events.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and Bryce Wisemiller, project manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are seen before Tuesday's meeting at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point. Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Long Island-based environmentalists urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rethink several design plans to construct massive gates in the waters near New York City that might protect the city from a hurricane-induced storm surge but flow back onto coastal areas of Nassau and Suffolk, flooding those areas.

“We need the Army Corps to come up with a protection plan that not only protects New York City but also protects Long Island,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, who bemoaned the fact that Long Island was not considered in the proposals. “We love New York City but we don’t want to be sacrificed to protect it.”

Esposito spoke during a news conference with other activists before the Corps’ public hearing on the tidal gates at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point.

“Climate change and sea level rise is real and we have to figure out how we’re going to address it,” said Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who urged the Army Corps to conduct a public hearing on Long Island before proceeding with what could be a $20 billion project.

As many as 75 people listened to the Army Corps outline five plans — one of which includes doing nothing — to guard against the effects of rising sea levels and events like superstorm Sandy. The plans explore the feasibility of placing massive gates in the waters and sea walls on the shores to stem the tide during major weather events.

Gates have been installed in a number of places around the world including Denmark, New Orleans, London and Holland, but area activists said conditions in those areas are unlike those in the New York area, where the gates would fend off an ocean’s wrath only to disperse the waters onto nearby tracts of land.

Bryce Wisemiller, project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, walked the group of activists, elected officials and concerned citizens through the plans aided by renderings. He commented on their details. He stressed that the Corps is still in the preliminary stages of any project and that construction likely would not begin until 2030 or so.

Afterward, the audience posed dozens of questions, including “Do the gates move?”

The gates do move, he said. “That’s why we call them gates,” he said.

A draft study of the findings so far is scheduled to be released in January, Wisemiller said.

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