As the metropolitan region, and the entire world, begins to emerge from a devastating year, we have a choice: our experience of 2020 can catalyze decisions that forge a new future, or we can solidify familiar ways of doing business.
Earlier this year, Waterfront Alliance surveyed each of the leading candidates for the office of Mayor of New York City for the Waterfront and Resilience Platform for the Next Mayor of New York City. The results reveal widespread agreement that the City’s 520 miles of waterfront along New York Harbor and its many tributaries play a critical role in the region’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the City’s response to climate change, and emergence from the economic downturn.
In the survey results released last month, the remaining eight mayoral Democratic candidates—Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Raymond McGuire, Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer, Maya Wiley, and Andrew Yang—describe the projects that they would champion to adapt New York City to a future of extreme storms and sea level rise. Their commitments range from retrofitting affordable housing units, to strengthening the shoreline with gray and green infrastructure, to promoting job growth in green and blue economic sectors in tandem with climate investments.
On May 14 at 9am, the third day of the annual Waterfront Conference, mayoral candidates will participate in the Waterfront Alliance’s Mayoral Town Hall moderated by Errol Louis, Political Anchor for NY1 News. Currently, the candidates confirmed to be attending are Kathryn Garcia, Scott Stringer, and Andrew Yang. Audience questions will be welcome, so be sure to register in advance. The Waterfront Conference is the region’s premier forum for policy that will lead to greater resilience, more public access, a stronger maritime industry, and a healthier environment at our shared waterways.
“We want New Yorkers to know where candidates stand on critical, sometimes overlooked priorities such as coastal resilience, equitable public access, and a maritime industry that is adopting new industries like offshore wind. We encourage candidates to communicate their strategies, commit to action and solutions, and embrace this moment as unlike any other the City has faced due to climate change,” said Cortney Koenig Worrall, president and CEO of the Waterfront Alliance. “COVID-19 and the climate disasters that the country endured in just the last 12 months show us that business as usual is no longer an option. We all need to be informed, and the next Mayor committed, so that together we can steer New York City and the region to a healthier, more equitable, and prosperous future.”
A series of recent Waterfront Alliance Twitter polls found that New Yorkers want to see more climate resilient infrastructure at the water’s edge. Respondents placed a high value on waterfront recreation, even calling for more urban beaches. The intersection of climate resilience and waterfront open space access is an opportunity for the next Mayor to marry the response to the climate crisis with projects that make for a more livable and greener city.
Across-the-board themes from the mayoral candidates’ surveys include:
- the understanding that waterfront access is vital, especially to historically marginalized communities, underscoring that we cannot rely on private development to create quality green waterfront spaces;
- innovative plans for revitalizing and reinventing working ports that include offshore wind development, support for local and regional hiring for the quality jobs that come with it, and investments in renewable energy;
- consensus to expedite major resiliency infrastructure projects through a comprehensive, five-borough approach that places equity at the center, ensuring all neighborhoods are protected, and fostering community voices that must be central throughout planning and decision-making;
- concern that vulnerable communities are not receiving appropriate resiliency investments, from Hunts Point to the Rockaways to Coney Island;
- acknowledgement that substantial investment in green infrastructure and job creation is part of the regional recovery strategy and the way to meet equity, sustainability, and resiliency goals.
Watch these mayoral candidates delve into and defend their ideas at the Waterfront Alliance Mayoral Town Hall on May 14, featured at the 2021 Waterfront Conference. The annual conference will take place this year online May 10, 12, and 14, with three afternoons of critical discussions and presentations on climate, design, renewable energy, community, New York-New Jersey Harbor, the maritime industry, and ecological conservation. Learn more about the Waterfront Conference and purchase tickets ($150 individual; $75 government/nonprofit/young professional; $50 students) today.
The 2021 Waterfront Conference is generously sponsored by:
Waterfront Scholars: Con Edison
In-Kind: City Cruises
Innovation Partner: Royal Norwegian Consulate General
Advocate: CAPALINO, Curtis + Rogers Design Studio, Environmental Defense Fund, Geosyntec Consultants Inc., Gowanus Bay Terminal, Greenpoint Landing, HR&A Industry City, LANGAN, McLaren Engineering Group, New York Shipping Association, Plaxall Inc., Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, RISE Light and Power, Stantec Consulting, Transmission Developers, Inc