On A Day Of Massive Flooding In Gowanus, Local Politicians Ask City To Evaluate Hydrological Impact Of Large Elevated Sites Like Lightstone Group's In Flood Prone Area

Gowanus Rain 9-23-11 B
Rendering of proposed Lightstone Group's Project on shore of Gowanus Canal
image credit: Lightstone Group

It would seem appropriate that on a day that saw heavy rains and flash flooding in the Gowanus area, our elected officials sent a letter to City Hall to ask if the "potential for adverse hydrologic impacts upon surrounding properties resulting from re-grading of large sites within flood hazards areas" has fully been investigated.

In the letter addressed to Deputy Mayors Cas Holloway and Robert Steele yesterday , Councilmember Lander, Congresswoman Velázquez and State Senator Montgomery specifically mention the 12 story, 700-unit Lightstone Group's project at 363-365 Bond Street.

Lightstone intends to re-grade their building site by raising the site of the development by two feet at First Street to address FEMA's recently released post-Sandy Advisory Base Flood Elevations and to comply with changes to the Building Code.

Since the Gowanus Canal was originally engineered to drain the upland marshland surrounding the canal in order to keep water away from residences in Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, this change in hydrology raises serious concerns about flooding and drainage in the Gowanus area. It may mean more problems for nearby residents, who deal with flooded basements on an regular basis.

Lander, Velazquez and Montgomery are asking City Planning "if re-grading could-even in a limited set of circumstances- lead to such impacts, how will such impacts be evaluated?
For example, would the Department Of Buildings confer with the Department of Environmental Protection before approving building permits for a re-graded site in a flood hazard area, such as that planned for 363-365 Bond Street?"

Further, Lander, Velazquez and Montgomery believe that " it would be better to bring all stakeholders to the table to develop a comprehensive plan for the infrastructure, flood protection, and land use regulations needed for a safe, vibrant, and sustainable Canal area. We should seize this opportunity to create an innovative model for low-lying, mixed-use waterfront areas on a warming planet."

It is encouraging that our Electeds recognize the hydrological impact to surrounding areas if developers like Lightstone's are allowed to re-grade the Gowanus area.

We need a new hydrological study before any new development moves forward.