Where and how to rebuild becoming controversial questions in post-Sandy New York and New Jersey
In a column published late last month, The New York Timesâ€™ architecture critic Michael Kimmelman argued for rebuilding New York City post-Hurricane Sandy in a responsible fashion. He feel efforts should be loaned toward rebuilding businesses and homes in a sustainable way.
The piece is called â€œVetoing Business as Usual After the Stormâ€ and the advocate-critic writes:
New York clearly ought to have taken certain steps a while back, no-brainers after the fact. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority ought to have installed floodgates and louvers at vulnerable subway entrances and vents. Consolidated Edison should have gotten its transformers, and Verizon its switching stations, out of harmâ€™s way, and Congress should have ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to study the impact of giant barriers to block parts of the city from the sea.
The thoughtful construction projects he loans his advocacy to, however, have yet to take hold in the United States, at least not in the public sector. Kimmelman explains that this is because, â€œThe hurdles go beyond just a single state authority fearful to concede even a footbridge. They include an alphabet soup of agencies and public officials.â€
So what does this mean for small businesses? How can the 250,000 NYC office spaces, restaurants and shops impacted by the storm begin to pick up the pieces and rebuild? How can they feel safe from future damages? As Kimmelman points out, â€œbusiness as usual,â€ just wonâ€™t cut it.
The criticâ€™s prescription for the Big Apple?
Common sense dictates upgrading many of these projects to withstand floods but also devising new homes elsewhere for some residents. Cost-benefit analyses, long overdue, should answer tough questions like whether itâ€™s actually worth saving some neighborhoods in flood zones.
This, it seems, is a controversial suggestion. As WNYC points out, Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, of New York and New Jersey respectively, fall on different sides of this issue. Christie has promised to rebuild the ravaged Jersey Shore. While Cuomo feels it may be necessary to reassess what areas are safe to build up.