Greening the Gap made an appearance at Manhattan Community Board 11’s full-board meeting to present the project’s vision and to invite people to join us in the process of identifying tangible ways to improve health through waterfront access and environmental interventions. This was the first full board meeting since the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, and the impacts of storm surge, flooding, and displaced people are still being felt in East Harlem. Numerous buildings were flooded, and already limited social services are being strained as displaced people from the other boroughs are doubling up with family or friends in East Harlem. State Senator Jose Serrano and New York State Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez were there to voice their concerns about how the storm has impacted services.
Sandy forces us to rethink our city, and the time is right to take practical steps to protect East Harlem from existing environmental and health risks. Given the curent fiscal climate, exisiting program funding, and the overlap of the issues the community faces, we must look at using many smaller projects that accomplish multiple goals. Using green infrastructure such as tree plantings and smart waterfront design will help East Harlem tackle the issues of flooding, sewer overflows, poor air and water quality, and chronic health issues related to physical exercise. We urge the community to continue to advocate for smart investments that will increase the resiliency of East Harlem and call for support in moving these efforts forward.