Storm Surge Barrier Comment Letter

July 24, 2018
Nancy J. Brighton, Chief, Watershed Section
Planning Division, Environmental Analysis Branch
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District
26 Federal Plaza, New York, Room 2151
New York, NY 10279–0090

Re: Storm Surge Barrier Public Comment

Dear Ms. Brighton, As the New York State Assemblymember representing the 106th Assembly District in the beautiful Hudson Valley, I write to express my concerns about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ storm surge proposal: Specifically, I urge you to extend the public comment period beyond August 20th, conduct additional public meetings throughout the project area and be sure nature-based storm surge mitigation solutions are one of the final considerations. The iconic Hudson River is a critical economic, recreational, and cultural resource for millions of people, and our communities have fought tirelessly for generations to protect and preserve its vitality. While I understand the need for storm surge protections, I have serious concerns about the Army Corp’s fast-tracked process. After conducting only 5 public meetings scheduled with little notice and held over a two day period from July 9-11, the Army Corps announced an official 30-day commenting period to run through August 20th. With an estimated cost of from $2 to $30 billion, and with potentially dangerous implications to our river for generations to come, the Army Corps must conduct additional meetings to educate and hear from more impacted communities and extend the too short public comment period beyond the summer vacation season to ensure greater stakeholder input. Four of the five proposals include massive in-water barriers and/or land-based floodwalls, dunes, and levees intended to manage the risk of coastal storm damage to New York Harbor and the Hudson Valley. These barriers may also restrict the Hudson River’s tidal flow, which could cause an increase in concentrated pollution and sedimentation, as well as impede the migration patterns of key aquatic species including striped bass, Atlantic sturgeon, and herring. This damage could undo years of ecological restoration of the Hudson River as well its resurgent economy. Nature-based shoreline alternatives could achieve the storm surge protections goals, reduce the negative consequences to river’s ecology, and be cost-effective. I urge the Army Corps to consider these nature-based shoreline alternatives as an option to protect and preserve both New York Harbor and the Hudson River. Nature-based alternatives will address sea level rise as well as climate change, and will have reduced burden on taxpayers. I hope the Army Corps will consider the local impact on all the people of New York when making its decision about New York Harbor and our Hudson River. I am happy to work with you to set up public meetings further upstate including in the City of Hudson. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office with any questions. Sincerely,

Didi Barrett
Assemblymember, 106th District

Cc: Commissioner Basil Seggos, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation