Waterfront resiliency progress
Five years later, city working to fulfill recommendations to buoy infrastructure and amenities
KINGSTON, N.Y. >> Five years ago, a city task force came up with a set of 24 recommendations to bolster resiliency at the waterfront.
The recommendations by the Kingston Tidal Waterfront Task Force were things that could be accomplished in both the near and the long term.
The task force was “formed in 2013 and undertook a risk assessment process that resulted in recommendations to reduce flood vulnerability on the waterfront,” according to a City Hall release promoting the “Waterfront Resilience Summit and High Water Festival” scheduled for Friday, Oct. 19.
“Since that time,” according to the release, “Kingston has worked to fulfill recommendations and implement projects to increase resilience of waterfront infrastructure and amenities.”
So, by its own assessment, how well has the city done?
One of those recommendations was for the city to embrace a “climate smart” program.
“Kingston was an earlyadopter of the (state) Department of Environmental Conservation’s Climate Smart Communities Program, and is one of only a handful of municipalities in the state that has earned a Silver Certification,” the festival press release says.
Here are some of the other task force recommendations, each immediately followed by the city response:
• Adopt the sea-level rise and flood projections recommended by New York state and the Kingston Waterfront Flooding Task Force for planning purposes. Plan and projections adopted November 2013 by Common Council and endorsed by Mayor Steve Noble.
• Incorporate the 24 findings and recommendations
from the task force into other city and regional plans. Language integrated into city’s Comprehensive Plan, adopted April 20, 2016.
• Develop a Kingston Waterfront “Long-term Resiliency Plan.” Hudson Riverport-Implementation Plan, FGEIS and market conditions update for 192 acres of Kingston’s Rondout Waterfront was completed in 2016.
• Ensure that all relevant city staff, elected and appointed officials are fully trained in and expected to incorporate impacts of flooding and sea-level rise into their daily work. Climate Smart community coordinator/sustainability coordinator is on staff to coordinate with municipal staff on integration of recommendations and flooding considerations.
• Research, evaluate and implement changes to city building and zoning codes that will increase resiliency and are cost-effective and socially equitable. Recently, the city’s Planning Board approved a mixed-use waterfront
development, but only after developers took extra steps aimed at floodprevention measures. Other matters related to this recommendation are still pending.
• Study the feasibility of using policy, zoning and building codes to achieve creative, water-dependent and water-enhanced uses that are resilient, including elevated, amphibious, or floating structures, wharves, berms and elevated rights of way. Still pending.
• Evaluate the use of natural buffers and green shoreline infrastructure to reduce flood risk and erosion and conserve natural resource functions. Sustainable Shoreline Project along Rondout - Phase 1 in design, Phase 2, currently out to bid, design work to be completed in 2019.
• Ensure that local street networks, utilities and other infrastructure function and remain connected as the city implements adaptation strategies to sealevel rise. State grant of $60,000 to be used to fix 1,400 feet of failing bulkhead on waterfront. Additional $300,000 grant to do additional design work of failing bulkhead.
• Research and evaluate land-use tools and financing mechanisms or incentives to facilitate flood adaptation in the waterfront. No action noted.
• Ensure opportunities exist for open space and recreation over the long term. Kingston Greenline: Kingston Point Rail Trail is under construction and Hudson Landing Promenade plans underway. Empire State Trail will now go through Kingston including waterfront area.
• Consider future flood hazards in economic development planning. No action noted.
• Develop a plan to mitigate both near- and longterm risk to the wastewater treatment facility. Some flood-prevention work at the plant has been completed.
• Host an informational public meeting with FEMA. Task Force hosted a National Flood Insurance Program and Community Rating System Workshop on Dec. 4, 2014.
• Conduct public outreach to property owners, tenants and prospective buyers in the Flood Hazard Overlay District. No action noted.
• Encourage and assist community-based organizations in their efforts to communicate the risks of flooding and potential adaptation solutions to vulnerable or non-English speaking populations. No action noted.
• Collaborate with other waterfront communities and county and state government to plan for coastal hazards like sea-level rise and storm surge. Facilitating regional Hudson River Estuary Program grant to reconvene four waterfront communities (Kingston, Catskill, Piermont and Stony Point) to collaborate on how to take steps forward to implement recommendations decided on in each community’s task force.
• Revise emergency management planning documents. Kingston Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan was drafted in 2014. This is in progress.
• Employ new tools to improve real-time emergency management planning. Established Swift911, the city’s subscription-based Emergency Notification System, to alert citizens to emergencies.
• Ensure safe access and evacuation along the waterfront during regular flood events. Kingston’s Draft Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan has evacuation guidelines.
• Develop a process to map and track repetitive storm damage. No action noted.
“The city continues to bear the brunt of increased rainfall events, more severe weather and harsher winter storms,” Noble said in an email. “Resiliency begins with good planning, community outreach and incremental steps to make sure our community continues to prepare for these additional challenges in the future.”
In this Oct. 30, 2012 photo, two Downtown Kingston restaurants — Rosita’s, foreground, and Steel House — are surrounded by Rondout Creek flood waters.