Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Scientist questions development of Flushing Meadows

Blue areas of map show extent of Hurricane Sandy's storm surge.
Site of proposed Willets Point mall project was under water.
Dr. Jason Munshi-South, an assistant professor of Environmental Science and Biology in the Department of Natural Science at Baruch College, penned an op-ed printed recently in the Daily News:

The borough of Queens was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Breezy Point, the Rockaways and other neighborhoods were completely devastated and may never be the same. We’d be foolish to think that Sandy was a once-in-a-lifetime storm. Instead, Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Irene are what we can expect more often in our future with climate change a clear and present danger.

[Flushing Meadows-Corona Park] acts as a natural sponge for tidal surges and stormwater runoff. It is a flood protection area — protecting our neighborhood (and basements) from serious flooding during big storms.

Because Bloomberg understands climate change so well, it is baffling that his administration has signed on to development plans for Flushing Meadows that are alarming — the construction of new stadiums, roads, parking lots and a massive mall in the park.

These construction projects will substantially increase the percentage of impervious surface cover (materials that do not absorb water) in the park as green spaces are converted to structures (stadiums and malls) and concrete roads, parking lots and walkways. Any gains against pollution runoff and flooding in the Meadow and Willow Lake watershed will be damaged by these developments, and storm runoff into Flushing Bay will likely increase.

Such development will also further damage Flushing Meadows’ historical role as a marshy buffer against storm surge and coastal flooding, placing residents and businesses located near Flushing Meadows in a more vulnerable position during extreme weather events. Do the developers of the soccer stadium have plans to address the potential damage from flooding to surrounding neighborhoods wrought by their work?