On Sept. 16, 2015, 25 Non-governmental organizations and academic partners, eight Federal, six State, and nine New York City agencies joined Col. David Caldwell the Army Corps' New York District commander and his staff aboard the Army Corps vessel DCV Hayward for a harbor inspection. Federal, state, local and private partnerships, along with stakeholder and non-governmental collaboration is important in developing sustainable solutions. The strategic engagement made a difference in understanding the capabilities of the Corps and provided a unique forum for 48 different organization agency heads and civic leaders to highlight joint accomplishments, and showcase various ongoing projects in the Estuary.
Planning and execution of this annual event was critical to an extremely successful strategic engagement with a wide variety of organizations participating. It's believed that this annual event is one of a kind in the Corps where so many various agencies assemble outside a conference room to synchronize, develop and discuss a diverse range of planning, problem solving, evaluations and strategies.
"This event is a fantastic networking opportunity to get to talk to folks from the other agencies and understand what their projects entail," said Robert Nyman of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Col. Caldwell personally welcomed and acknowledged the guests in his welcoming remarks. "This year, we have an unprecedented number of people representing 48 different organizations - which is a testament to our ongoing commitment to working together. This harbor inspection is New York District’s annual celebration of our ongoing and future partnerships. It provides us an opportunity to highlight our past success. As we head to Jamaica Bay today, you will hear about these successes, ongoing efforts and ways we can continue to partner in the future from New York District Staff and our partners."
Discussed was future partnering opportunities, ecosystem restoration successes, navigation activities, deepening and maintaining the federal channels, and waterfront planning.
Points of Interest included: Sea Gate, Coney Island, Gerritsen Creek, Plumb Beach, Rockaway Reformulation Hudson Raritan Estuary and Liberty State Park, Harbor Deepening, South Shore of Staten Island, Jamaica Bay Restoration, Marsh Islands, Hudson Raritan Estuary perimeter sites, Spring Creek North and South.
Partner Remarks were made by representatives from The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Molly Campbell, Director of Port Commerce and Christine Weydig, Director of Environmental and Energy Programs. Steve Dorrler, spoke about the water siphon which runs under the harbor from Brooklyn to Staten Island, as it relates to the Harbor Deepening Program.
Remarks were also made by Gabriella Amabile, U.S. Housing and Urban Development; Claudia Filomena, New York Governor’s office of Storm Recovery; Joshua Laird, Commissioner, National Park Service, New York Harbor Conservancy; Jennifer Nersesian, Superintendant, Gateway National Recreation Area; Dan Mundy, Sr., of Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers; and Adam Parris, Executive Director, Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay.
"We've done some really meaningful work with our partner organizations here and the Army Corps," said Christine Weydig, Director of Environmental and Energy, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. "The Port Authority has a commitment for sustainability and for environmental stewardship, and our restoration and preservation work that we do with many of you here is extremely important to us. I look forward to working with all of you on expanding that program and continuing the great work that we've done together."
As the vessel traveled along the harbor inspection track, various speakers took to the microphone and elaborated about each project. Overviews were presented by the Corps' New York District. Joseph Seebode, Deputy District Engineer for Programs and Project Management spoke about the Civil Works program, and Thomas Creamer, Chief Operations Officer spoke about Harbor Operations.
Paul Tumminello, Chief of the Army Corps' New York District Civil Works Branch, discussed the tremendous success of the 50 foot deepening of 35 miles of navigation channels within the Port. "Completion of this $1.6 Billion Civil Works 50 foot Harbor Deepening Project will ensure the Port continues to serve as an economic engine to the region." The economic viability of the Port must be balanced with the restoration of the estuary. The beneficial use of dredged material from the Harbor Deepening project has resulted in significant success stories including the restoration of more than 160 acres of marsh islands in Jamaica Bay, the stabilization of the shoreline at Plumb Beach, and restoration at Lincoln Park in Jersey City.
Lisa Baron, Project Manager, Army Corps’ New York District Civil Works Branch discussed ecosystem restoration efforts in the harbor and Jamaica Bay, N.Y. and Dan Falt, Project Manager, Army Corps’ New York District Coastal Restoration Branch spoke about the East Rockaway, Jamaica Bay Reformulation, Plumb Beach and Gerritsen Creek projects.
While at Jamaica Bay, Col. Caldwell held up a copy of the Hudson Raritan Estuary Comprehensive Restoration Plan and spoke about its content and availability. "We would like folks to become familiar with this Plan, as we continue to look for opportunities in the future and figure out how we can all work towards some of these solutions."
Anthony Ciorra, Chief, Coastal Restoration and Special Projects Branch provided an overview of the significant progress made in the Sandy Program. "Over the last two years, we all have been working together on post Sandy recovery - making significant progress to restore the beaches and expedite the ongoing planning efforts to manage coastal storm risks."
Ciorra also spoke about the South Shore Staten Island study and project. The South Shore of Staten Island Coastal Storm Risk Management Project is a partnership between the Army Corps and the non-Federal Sponsor, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and in cooperation with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
The proposed South Shore of Staten Island project calls for the construction of a Line of Protection consisting of a buried seawall/armored levee along a majority of the Fort Wadsworth – Oakwood Beach reach serving as the first line of defense against severe coastal surge flooding and wave forces.
The event also provided an opportunity to recognize Richard Larrabee of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who was awarded the U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal by Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, the Chief of Engineers for outstanding service and significant contributions in support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the Director of the Port Commerce Department of the Port Authority. The medal and citation were presented by Col. Caldwell on the bow of the Hayward.
-- USACE CENAN --