PROJECT PAGES: Living With the Bay
Developed by: Interboro / Apex / Bosch Slabbers / Deltares / H+N+S / Palmbout / IMG Rebel with Center for Urban Pedagogy, David Rusk, NJIT Infrastructure Planning Program, Project Projects, RFA Investments, TU Delft
After World War II, Nassau County’s proximity to New York City and room for growth made it ideal for suburban, single-family homes. But its development came at a cost: Long Island has had to confront day-to-day threats like stormwater runoff flooding, bayside inundation, and coastal wave action. All of these are acutely underscored by sea level rise, ecological failures from overdevelopment and pollution, and a lack of access to housing and public space. When Hurricane Sandy hit the south shore of Nassau County, the blow was devastating: 14 people were killed and thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed.
Location: Nassau County, Long Island, NY
Award: $125 Million
Grantee: New York State Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery
The Living with the Bay proposal envisioned a “buffered bay” approach. Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge caused most of the damage, and regular stormwater runoff and wastewater overflows continue to degrade the ecosystems that provide natural protections from storm surge.
Strategies for the Barrier Island: The Smart Barrier
Long Island’s barrier islands are among the region’s most vulnerable zones. The proposal envisioned protective infrastructure that doubles as an amenity to provide access to the bayshore, while also serving as a landscape where stormwater is stored, cleaned, and replenished.
Strategies for the Marsh: The Eco-Edge
Wetlands—particularly saltwater marshes—buffer coastal communities. However, urban development has negatively affected Nassau County’s critical environment. New marsh islands could reduce wave action, improve bay ecology, and afford new recreational opportunities.
Strategies for the Lowlands: Slow Streams
The areas around Southern Nassau’s north-south tributaries are threatened both by storm surge and rainfall flooding. Addressing these threats could transform rivers into green-blue corridors that store and filter water, provide public space, and offer room for new urban development.
View the team’s full competition proposal here.
The New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR) worked to re-scope Living with the Bay. The updated vision now includes eight physical and social resilience initiatives. The program will mitigate storm damage, manage and treat stormwater, improve habitats, and increase Mill River access across Hempstead Lake State Park, Smith Pond, Lister Park, Bay Park, and a new Greenway Network; harden infrastructure at East Rockaway High School to reduce flood risk; and divert wastewater from the Long Beach Water Pollution Control Plant. GOSR is also collaborating with Hofstra University and Seatuck on educational and workforce development programs to promote social resilience.
After breaking ground in fall 2021, the project has achieved several key milestones. At Hempstead Lake State Park, upgrades to public accessibility, including a new fishing pier, raised crosswalks for public safety, and new and improved walking and horseback riding trails, are complete. Efforts to stabilize the Hempstead Lake Dam and install new sluice gates that can control lake levels before and during storms will be completed in fall 2022. New greenway and wetland trails, improvements to the Northern Ponds to mitigate flood risk and reduce pollution flows into Hewlett Bay, and new wetlands to filter stormwater are also underway and final project completion is scheduled for December 2022.
At Smith Pond, the removal of invasive plant species and replanting of native species along the shoreline has been concluded, a system of floodwalls and floodgates was installed, and dam improvements, the conversion of parking lots to porous pavement, and greenway enhancements to support walkability have been completed. Construction on the East and West Boulevard Project, the Greenway Network, and Lister Park improvements is underway and the Governor’s Office is exploring opportunities to expand and continue Social Resiliency Programs, which wrapped up in summer 2022.
Budget: $125 million HUD CDBG-DR grant through Rebuild by Design