News

After Sandy in New York's parks

New York, NY—November 19, 2012 —Across Long Island, New York City and the southern Hudson Valley, residents and businesses continue to clean up from the devastation caused by superstorm Sandy. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to the thousands of families whose lives have been forever impacted by Sandy. As details of destruction and loss related to the storm continue to come to light, we thought it appropriate to share some initial information on the damage at New York’s state parks.

There was significant flooding at Roberto Clemente, Gantry Plaza and East River state parks in New York City, as well as tree and flood damage at parks in the lower Hudson Valley. However, the greatest amount of damage was sustained on Long Island, with Jones Beach, Robert Moses and Orient Beach state parks bearing the brunt of the destructive forces.

Early cost estimates of flooding and wind damage at these and other state parks in the affected regions amount to well over $100 million. While the parks are slowly reopening, evidence of the destruction remains. Roadways, buildings and beachfronts have sustained heavy damage.  

At Jones Beach, Long Island’s signature beachfront park and Robert Moses’ masterpiece, the power remains out; large portions of the historic boardwalk are in ruins; standing water remains and major roadways have been destroyed. Even as areas of the park begin to reopen to the public, it will take enormous effort, and emergency dollars, for Jones Beach to be repaired to the point that it can welcome its annual 7 million visitors during the upcoming season.

Even before Sandy struck, the Open Space Institute's Alliance for New York State Parks had, in cooperation with the Office of New York State Parks, begun working on a re-visioning plan for Jones Beach, one of the region’s most recognizable cultural and recreational destinations. Over the years, the once majestic park had become tarnished and worn; marred by failing infrastructure and outdated amenities and utility systems.

In the wake of Sandy, we are refocusing our immediate efforts to support the agency as it begins the process of rebuilding this iconic park. Our challenge is to ensure that design and rebuilding efforts getting underway now are done so in a smart, coordinated and sustainable manner – while being true to the historic nature of the park.

OSI’s Alliance is coordinating a site visit with numerous design and architectural experts in order to offer professional support and Stantec, the consultant we had contracted with pre-Sandy to develop a master vision for the park, is now an additional resource for the state.  

Without a doubt, Sandy has altered the course of the Alliance's Jones Beach restoration project. Thanks to the commitment of the Open Space Institute and the support of our many parks friends, we are also in the fortunate position to respond to the evolving needs at Jones Beach. As we continue learn more about the storm-related damage and restoration efforts at New York’s wonderful state parks, we will continue to keep you apprised.

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