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BY JOSH ROGERS | City Council candidate Jenifer Rajkumar said last week there was a lot to like in Mayor Bloomberg’s comprehensive report on protecting the city from storms.
“I like its scope, its level of detail and its commitment to really taking some big steps to protect the city,” said Rajkumar, a Democratic district leader who is running in the Sept. 10 primary against Councilmember Margaret Chin.
“I like the idea of these removable storm walls to protect Chinatown, the Lower East Side and the Financial District,” Rajkumar said in a June 14 phone interview.
She also liked the focus on things such as changing building codes to allow for relocation of equipment during storms. If elected, Rajkumar would recommend that the next mayor advance many of the suggestions.
It’s important, Rajkumar said, that vulnerable poor and elderly residents are included in any plans to prepare the city for something like Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged parts of Lower Manhattan last year.
She looks favorably on a City Council proposal intended to insure that these communities are accounted for in emergency preparations.
An aide to Councilmember Chin, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Chin shares the same concern, but it’s tricky to formalize that in law, since any list of vulnerable people would be constantly changing.
Chin’s overall position on the mayor’s report, released June 11, is less clear. After agreeing to a phone interview for this article, her staff later canceled citing scheduling conflicts. She did make the staff member available for an interview.
He said there are some ideas such as the temporary barriers that sounded worthy, but all needed to be further studied with lots of consultation with the community.
He said one idea to protect Downtown that should have been included in the report would be building wetlands by Battery Park. Other solutions using nature mentioned in the report such as using oyster beds to mitigate wave levels are also good ideas, he said.
He called the “Seaport City” idea to construct an East Side version of Battery Park City “half-baked.”
Bloomberg in his speech last week, acknowledged it was a long-term idea that would be hard to implement.
Rajkumar said if Seaport City ever advanced, community consultation would be required and she’d be concerned with preserving the character of the Seaport’s historic district.
“We will need a robust debate and community input for that long-term-plan,” she said.
If elected, she would tell the next mayor that there are a lot of good things to build on and implement in the report. Chin’s aide said the next administration should take a close look at the study.