Wednesday, November 14, 2007

CMRC Announces Cortney Worrall as Executive Director

Dear Friends of the CMRC,

On behalf of our Board of Directors, we are proud to announce Cortney Worrall as the new Executive Director of the Coastal Marine Resource Center. Please join us in welcoming Cortney to our growing family of volunteers and supporters dedicated to the conservation of the NY – NJ Harbor Bight!

Ms. Worrall brings her dedication and passion to our efforts to restore habitat quality and provide public access to our region’s coastal resources. Working since 1990 on environmental issues, Cortney most recently worked with Bezcak Environmental Education Center where she assisted in the organization’s volunteer program and strategic planning efforts. Previously, she worked at the NY – NJ Harbor Estuary Program developing management strategies and outreach efforts on pollution prevention and public access programs.

Executive Director Worrall replaces CMRC founder Joel Banslaben who now joins the Board of Directors along with new additions Chris Shepard, Mark Rachleff and Jacqueline Lipson.

The CMRC will continue to work towards it mission of conserving the coasts and oceans of the Harbor Bight through its Business Stewardship, Green Roofs, Virtual Estuary and Sustainable Communities Programs. Please check our website ( in the coming weeks for updates and feel free to contact Cortney at cortney"at" to learn more about our current projects and volunteer opportunities.

See you at the coast!

Monday, July 23, 2007

In the News: Report Card on New York City's Beaches

New Yorkers For Parks ( recently released its Report Card on Beaches 2007: An Independent Assessment of New York City's Public Beaches, finding that 2 of the City's 7 coastal parks were "unsatisfactory" while another 4 were rated "challenged." Only one beach received the rating "satisfactory," bringing attention to the continued need for increased conservation and access throughout these critical urban habitats. The CMRC was proud to participate in the NY4Parks study as part of the Beaches Advisory Group and hopes that the City and local non-profit organizations will work together to increase beach cleanliness, improve water quality and address the need for additional lifeguards and maintenance staff...JB

Report Card on Beaches 2007

Raising the Tide: Strategies for New York City Beaches

Fourteen miles of New York City’s 578-mile waterfront are composed of public beaches operated by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). Nearly 21 million visitors spent time at the seven beaches during the summer of 2006.

Located in four of the five boroughs, the seven public beaches provide recreation, relaxation and a respite for residents and tourists:
• Coney Island/Brighton Beach, Brooklyn
• Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn
• Midland Beach, Staten Island
• Orchard Beach, Bronx
• Rockaway Beach, Queens
• South Beach, Staten Island
• Wolfe’s Pond Beach, Staten Island

“Raising the Tide: Strategies for New York City Beaches” discusses important issues that have been brought to the table by community groups, city agencies, and advocates. The primary issues impacting beach users, along with New Yorkers for Parks’ recommendations to address them, are as follows:

Lifeguards and Staffing:

A chronic shortage of lifeguards leads to closed sections of the beach every summer. Recommendations: 1. Improve recruitment by administering training where there is demand and enhancing the transparency of testing. 2. Double the salary for lifeguards at underserved beaches as a pilot program. 3. Expand youth swimming opportunities in partnership with the Department of Education.

Maintenance and Inspections:

According to Health Department inspection data, beach facilities such as bathrooms need additional maintenance. Recommendations: 1. Implement “Operation Relief” for beach bathrooms in order to improve maintenance and reduce health code violations. 2. Increase the transparency of Park Inspection Program (PIP) results and include bathrooms and drinking fountains in a beach’s rating.

Water Quality:

Although water quality in NYC has improved in recent decades, the city still has a long way to go in terms of reducing water pollution. Recommendation: 1. Use and promote stormwater management strategies when developing land throughout the city to improve beach water quality.

Public Notification:

Information on local beach conditions needs to be improved. Recommendation: 1. Establish a NYC Beach User’s Guide on the Web that provides a variety of essential health, safety, and user information drawn from multiple city agencies.

Read more:
Report Card on Beaches 2007

Raising the Tide: Strategies for New York City Beaches

New Yorkers for Parks

New York City Department of Parks - Beaches

Image: Coney Island, The CMRC

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

CMRC Releases Report on Sustainable Design & Development

Sustainability. It's a term that we often hear in our modern day "green" society. But I've always wondered, what exactly does it mean?

For some it may be its simplest definition - balance & longevity. For others it may be a cool marketing word to help appeal to consumers. For those of us focusing on community development and conservation it is often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future.

For coastal marine ecosystems and waterfront communities, the question then is how can we take this definition of sustainability and apply it to our current environmental and social challenges? One way is to look directly at the environment that surrounds us, the built environment. And that is exactly what the CMRC and a diverse range of partners aimed to examine when we convened a seminar on Sustainable Design and Development earlier this year.

The results of the seminar can now be found in the following report: Sustainable Design & Development. A brief Executive Summary can also be found below. Please feel free to contact us at with questions or comments.

Sustainability is a great concept. But unfortunately it seems like it has been just a concept to date. Now we need incorporate sustainable practices into our coastal marine ecosystem by examining the many facets of our everyday life. The built environment seems like a great place to start ...JB


On April 24, 2007 the Coastal Marine Resource Center and its partners convened a seminar on Sustainable Design and Development: Implications for Policy and Planning. The workshop attempted to answer the question: Where are the opportunities for implementing sustainable design practices in our region and what can be done to better incentivize practices that benefit coastal marine resources?

The Seminar included presentations from experts on the state-of-the-art thinking behind sustainable design and development and highlighted the opportunities and challenges to making a significant impact on our environment, communities and economies. Presentations included the following speakers and topics: Kate Shackford, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, Planning for Sustainability: Bronx Initiative for Energy & Environment; Jeff Raven, Ammann & Whitney, Implementation and Engineering for Green Projects; and Pete Atkin, GreenOrder, The Benefits of Sustainable Design to Businesses

Following the presentations, a diverse audience of government officials, conservation advocates and business owners worked with presenters and facilitators to identify major opportunities and potential projects for implementation within specific topic areas. The recommendations included:

Technology – Water Quality Sensors, Blackwater Holding Systems and Green Roofs
Finance – A Cap & Trade System for Stormwater
Policy – Tax Incentives to Promote Source Controls & Reduce Runoff

To move sustainable design and development forward, participants agreed that the NY – NJ Harbor Bight will need increased collaboration between businesses, policy-makers and scientists. The consensus appears that we are at the threshold of achieving great benefits with these initiatives but will need to better connect resource efficiency with profitability. This may require greater initial capital investment and creative incentive programs to promote further development of sustainable design tools for real estate developers in our coastal region.

Read more:

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

In the News: The Lure of Seeing a Hushed City at Water Level

As summer heats up, so do the activities on our waterways! One means for getting on the water - kayaking - has been increasing by leaps & bounds in recent years (the population of boaters in Manhattan alone grew ten-fold over the past decade). However "despite the risk of large ships, water scooters, changing tides, unpredictable currents and cold water" and no paddling related fatalities the City Department of Parks is considering more stringent regulations. Let's hope they lean towards boater safety & education and not reduced waterfront access...JB

Image: Kayaking Urban Waters, Wikipedia

By Timothy Williams
May 29, 2007

For years, a small, secretive group of people, most of them men, spent their off hours paddling just above the surface of the city’s dirty rivers in kayaks. They rowed to their own music, often alone, and few paid much attention.

Kayakers speak about their sport in spiritual terms: a feeling of freedom, the communing with nature, an enveloping quiet while paddling only a few meters off the Manhattan shoreline in temperatures that are often 15 degrees lower than on shore.

“When that sun is going down on the East River, there is nothing that compares,” said Robert DiMaio, 46, a documentary film producer who proposed to his wife as they were kayaking. “Everything is quiet. The lights of the city are coming on. It is beyond addictive. You want to be able to articulate it, but it is hard. The city becomes a theater of light and distant sound.”

Kayaking has been largely unregulated, but now the city is giving it closer scrutiny. The change has been met with both optimism and alarm by New York’s close-knit community of kayakers, which has grown to perhaps a few hundred serious paddlers since the mid-1980s.

Read more:

Downtown Boathouse

Sebago Canoe Club

Wikipedia Kayak

Monday, May 07, 2007

In the News: Million-Gallon Sewage Spill In N.Y. River

A large spill of raw sewage last week into the Hudson River led health officials to advise recreational users against entering local waters. Officials recommended residents to avoid contact with the river citing potential "gastrointestinal problems" that could develop. The spill shed some light on the state of water quality in the region, and the apparent lack of concern for dumping sewage into our waters. Possibly this is because we already dump "more than 27 billion gallons of raw sewage and polluted stormwater discharge out of 460 combined sewage overflows (“CSOs”)" into our waterways annually as a recent Riverkeeper Report found...JB

Yonkers, N.Y., May 5, 2007

A broken 48-inch underground pipe sent up to 2 million gallons of raw sewage spilling into the Hudson River north of New York City as workers scrambled Saturday to repair the damage.

Westchester County health officials warned boaters, water skiers and skin divers to stay out of the river due to potential health problems presented by the sewage. The pipe broke Friday afternoon, apparently ruptured by a tree that came loose during a landslide near the Greystone Train Station in Yonkers, officials said.

Read More:

Riverkeeper Information on CSOs

Sustainable Raindrops Report

Monday, April 23, 2007

CMRC Business Stewardship Series Presents Sustainable Design & Development April 24th!

Sustainable Design and Development: Policy & Planning Implications
April 24th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Kate Shackford, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation
Planning for Sustainability: Bronx Initiative for Energy & Environment

Pete Atkin, Green Order
The Benefits of Sustainable Design to Businesses

Jeff Raven, Amman & Whitney
Implementation and Engineering for Green Projects

Moderator: Joel Banslaben
Coastal Marine Resource Center

Location: Louis Berger, 199 Water Street, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10038.
RSVP to or 646-515-9290

Agenda & Overview
On April 24th, 2007, the CMRC will host a seminar on “Sustainable Design and Development: Policy and Planning Implications” that will explore the opportunities for greening real estate in our urban metropolitan region. The event will include a panel of distinguished speakers from various sectors presenting their thoughts on creating sustainable design and development. Major themes of the seminar will be:

1) What benefit does sustainable design provide for urban regions & residents?
2) What benefit does sustainable development have for businesses & investors?
3) Where are the incentive gaps & what can be done to align common goals?

The Panel will be followed by a working session designed to identify the major challenges to implementing sustainable design and development. Structured breakout groups will create policy and planning solutions aimed at increasing water, energy, land-use and materials efficiency that will be forwarded directly to policymakers.

The CMRC’s Business Stewardship Initiative seeks to integrate the resources of local businesses with conservation efforts. We would like to thank our sponsors and partners for their continued support! For more information please visit or contact us at

In the News: Bloomberg Draws a Blueprint for a Greener City

On Earth Day Mayor Bloomberg released his ambitious "PlaNYC" report to guide the region's next twenty-five years of growth. The City expects to gain one-million people by 2030 and as a result has decided to take a pro-active approach to city planning and environmental protection. Included in the report are 127 projects that include congestion pricing in Manhattan and "exploring other natural solutions for cleaning our water bodies." The question now, "Who will pay for it all?"...JB

By Thomas J. Lueck
Published April 23, 2007

In a quarter-century plan to create what he called “the first environmentally sustainable 21st-century city,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proposed a sweeping and politically contentious vision yesterday of 127 projects, regulations and innovations for New York and the region.

The plan is intended to foster steady population growth, with the city expected to gain about 1 million residents by 2030, and to put in place a host of environmentally sensitive measures that would reduce the greenhouse gases it generates.

Mr. Bloomberg also set the parameters for what could be a large piece of his legacy as mayor. In an address outlining the plan yesterday at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, Mr. Bloomberg likened it to the first blueprints for Central Park more than 100 years ago and the construction of Rockefeller Center in the Great Depression.

Read more:

PlaNYC Full Report

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

In the News: Young Whale Found in New York Harbor

A 30,000 pound juvenile minke whale was observed swimming near the Gowanus Canal on Tuesday, the first such sighting in nearly seven years when a whale presumably hit by a ship was found dead between Brooklyn and Staten Island . As of 5:00 PM on Wednesday the whereabouts of the whale were unknown, but it was swimming and in good shape said representatives from the Riverhead Foundation, a group dedicated to assisting with stranded marine mammals...JB

Image: Balaenoptera acutorostrata by Alessio Marrucci

By Richard Pyle (Associated Press)

NEW YORK -- Marine biologists were standing watch on Tuesday over a young whale that lost its way in New York harbor and nearly wandered into a narrow waterway notorious for industrial pollution.

The animal, described as a juvenile minke whale about 15 feet long, was cruising around Gowanus Bay, the outlet from the mile-long Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. It appeared to be in good health and not distressed, said Kim Durham, rescue program director for the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.

Read more:

Video of Whale on WNBC

Riverhead Foundation

Minke Whale in Wikipedia

Monday, April 16, 2007

In the News: Buildings Called Key Source of City’s Greenhouse Gases

New York City's Office of Sustainability recently released a report on Greenhouse Gases which found that the City's 950,000 buildings emit nearly 80% of our CO2 emissions. With 20% coming from automobiles and mass transit it is clear that a strategy to reduce these gases will have to include an aggressive campaign to implement sustainable design and development for our region's residential and commercial structures. However, what is even more surprising is the number of buildings with (or should I say without) either green roofs or LEED certification. Out of the 950,000 buildings in New York City only 20-30 currently have green roofs...JB

Image: New York from space. Can you count the green roofs?

April 11, 2007
By Diane Cardwell

Laying the groundwork for a plan to reduce the production of greenhouse gases in the city, the Bloomberg administration released a study yesterday showing that New York’s roughly 950,000 buildings are responsible for a vast majority of the city’s carbon dioxide emissions.

In sharp contrast to the national average of about 32 percent, the city’s buildings are responsible for 79 percent of the greenhouse gases produced by the city and are rising each year, according to the study, conducted by the city’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. Transportation systems, including mass transit, cars and trucks, are responsible for most of the remaining 21 percent of the emissions, which are considered a major factor in global warming.

The release of the inventory marked the first concrete step in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s ambitious effort to set the city on a greener path as it plans for the addition of one million residents by 2030. In December, Mr. Bloomberg outlined goals to help guide the city’s growth in a more environmentally sound way, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent.

Read more:

Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report

NYC's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability

US Green Building Council

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sustainable Design & Development: April 24th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

CMRC’s Business Stewardship Speaker Series Invites You to a Seminar on Sustainable Design and Development: Policy and Planning Implications on Tuesday, April 24th from 6:00 – 8:00 PM. Please see details below!


Kate Shackford, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation
Planning for Sustainable Development: Bronx Initiative for Energy and the Environment

Pete Atkin, Green Order
The Benefits of Sustainable Design and Development to Businesses

Terry Doss, Louis Berger Group
Implementation and Engineering for Green Projects

Moderator: Joel Banslaben, Coastal Marine Resource Center

Location: Louis Berger, 199 Water Street, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10038

Space is limited. RSVP to or 646-515-9290 by April 20th!

On April 24th, 2007, the Coastal Marine Resource Center will host a seminar on “Sustainable Design and Development: Policy and Planning Implications” that will explore the challenges and opportunities to greening real estate in the NY – NJ Harbor Bight. The event will include a panel of distinguished speakers from the private, non-profit and government sectors presenting their thoughts and plans on creating sustainable design and development in the region. Major themes of the seminar will be:

What benefit does sustainable design provide for urban regions and their residents?
What benefit does sustainable development have for businesses and financial investors?
Where are the incentive gaps for different parties and what can be done to align common goals?

The Panel session will be followed by a working session designed to identify the major challenges to implementing sustainable design and development solutions in the NY – NJ region. Structured breakout groups will create policy and planning solutions aimed at increasing water, energy, land-use and materials efficiency that will be forwarded directly to policymakers.

RSVP to by April 20th

The CMRC’s Business Stewardship Initiative seeks to integrate the resources of local businesses with conservation efforts. We would like to thank our sponsors and partners for their continued support and are looking forward to a great year! For more information please visit or contact us at

Monday, April 09, 2007

In the News: Fume-Free (for Now) and Looking to the Future

Brooklyn's intrigue with the Gowanus Canal never ceases to amaze me. I must admit that as one who crosses it with regularity, I often find myself staring out over the rainbow colored waters and endless warehouses thinking of its dynamic history and (potentially) green future. For those attempting to make these visions a reality many issues abound for Gowanus. Developers, community groups, local businesses and waterfront open-space advocates will all have their say as the City Department of Planning "charts the future" of the Canal. I just hope they can find a green way to keep the rainbow color of the water...JB

April 8, 2007
By Jake Mooney

Ten years ago, the idea of worrying about the future of the land around the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn would have seemed a little strange, especially in hot weather. An underground tunnel designed to circulate the canal’s water had been out of service for decades, and as a result, sewage from nearby houses and storm drains overflowed regularly into the canal, emitting a formidable stench.

The sewage overflows continue, but with the tunnel reopened since 1999, the water circulates better — at least for the moment. The gradual return of fish and birds to the canal has enticed widely known developers like Shaya Boymelgreen and the Pennsylvania-based Toll Brothers, drawn to the neighborhood’s proximity to Park Slope and Carroll Gardens. These developers have proposed projects that could involve rezoning parts of Gowanus and adding hundreds if not thousands of residents to the area.

In response, staff members of the Department of City Planning are meeting this month and next with the local community board to evaluate the neighborhood’s needs and chart its future. Their goal is a framework for land use decisions that could allow manufacturing and residential development to coexist and maybe even open up some recreational space.

“There are so many possibilities that people have let their imaginations run wild, and that’s a good thing,” said Craig Hammerman, district manager of the local Community Board 6. “We just have to make sure that we can tether the possibilities to probabilities that are out there.”

Read more:

Community Board Six

Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation

Monday, April 02, 2007

In the News: LIPA Wind Farm Cost Too Steep

A recent report by Dowling College outlined "excessive" construction costs for the proposed offshore wind farm south of Long Island and suggested that the Long Island Power Authority build the project itself and save taxpayers nearly $100 million. The analysis brings into question the costs and benefits of alternative energy as we transition from a strictly petroleum-based economy. Certainly, the costs of exploring new technologies will be high initially, but as these projects become more common the up front investment will lower. We just need to make sure that LIPA and others keep sound economics in mind...JB

Image: Danish Wind Turbines from Wikipedia

By Mark Harrington
April 2, 2007

The proposal to build a 40-turbine wind farm off the South Shore would enrich its contractor with "extraordinary" returns while "saddling" Long Island ratepayers with a 20-year-plus contract for energy at "excessive" prices, a new study of the project's economics has found.

Scheduled to be released this week, the study, by the Long Island Economic & Social Policy Institute at Dowling College, questions the initial $356-million construction cost of the project and suggests LIPA explore the alternative of funding and building the wind farm itself, which it says would be cheaper.

"Wind energy makes sense for Long Island, but this contract does not," said the study's author, Mark Greer, a professor of economics at Dowling.

Read more...,0,2894107.story?coll=ny-linews-headlines

Long Island Economic & Social Policy Institute at Dowling College on Wind Farm,0,6973532.acrobat?coll=ny-linews-headlines

LIPA Offshore Wind Project Information

Wind Farm on Wikipedia

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

CMRC to Host Seminar on Sustainable Design & Development April 24th

The CMRC’s Business Stewardship Initiative is proud to announce our second year of the Stewardship Speaker Series!

Sustainable Design & Development: April 24th - Save the Date!!!

On April 24th, 2007, we will host a seminar on “Sustainable Design and Development: Policy and Planning Implications” that will explore the
challenges and opportunities to greening real estate in the New York – New Jersey Harbor Bight. Please stay tuned for further details including a great panel of speakers and location of the event.

CMRC Business Stewardship Speaker Series
Sustainable Design and Development
April 24th

The CMRC’s Business Stewardship Initiative seeks to integrate the resources of local businesses with conservation efforts by leveraging available human and financial capital and increasing pollution prevention awareness within corporations, small businesses and industry. We would like to thank our sponsors and partners for their continued support and are looking forward to a great year!

For more information please visit or contact us at

Image: Green Roof Design Courtesy American Wick Drain (

Friday, March 16, 2007

In the News: The Real Riddle of Changing Weather: How Safe Is My Home?

Sea-level rise is certainly going to be a big issue in the next decade, especially if current warming trends continue. We are a coastal city with a large portion of our population lying between 0-10 feet above sea level. Insurers have recently caught drift of this information and are now unwilling to offer flood policies. One solution proposes to build a four giant seagates to protect property. Unfortunately, the gates would only protect those inside the seawall and would actually greatly increase the effects outside. How about this. We actually acknowledge that we are a coastal city and spend the money rebuilding marshes throughout the city to act as a buffer to flooding events. Reduce development in high risk areas. Create sand dunes where they once existed and creating rolling easements on coastal property. Put great public transportation networks in place so that when storms do come people can be moved quickly to higher ground. Improve stormwater infrastructure so that when flooding occurs it drains as effectively and sewage free as possible. Is that really too much to ask?...JB

Image: Flooding Risk Areas by NYC OEM

By Teri Karush Rogers
Published: March 11, 2007

By now it is no longer news that people are jiggling the planet’s thermostat.

One response is to go green: New Yorkers who were terrified into action by Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” are shaping up their lives and homes with a compulsion formerly reserved for the Atkins diet.

All this carbon cutting is a boon, and it certainly provides a moral high ground. But it fails to address one pesky truth: no matter how green New York City becomes, it remains hostage to huge amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions already in the pipeline and from the future environmental transgressions of others, facts made clear in the bleak conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released last month in Paris.

With no obvious savior in the wings, there is a growing urgency that global warming be understood at a local level, right down to the block, starting with: How could a rising sea level and pummeling storms affect the trillion dollars’ worth of property New Yorkers call home?
“It’s all pointing in a bad direction,” said Stuart Gaffin, an associate research scientist at the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University. “There’s nothing good to encourage you to think we’re going to avoid long-term flooding events.”

Read more:

New York City Office of Emergency Management

SUNY Stony Brook's Marine Research Center

Thursday, March 08, 2007

In the News: Cost to Operate S.I. Ferries Soared Over the Last 5 Years

The City's Independent Budget Office reported earlier this month that costs to operate the Staten Island Ferry doubled from $40 to $84 million between 2002 and 2007, adding fuel to the debate on water-based transporation in the region. For the most part, the increases were attributed to security upgrades (post 9/11 and 2003 crash). However, ridership did increase over 10% during the same time period to 20 million riders annually, indicating that demand is still very much high for this energy efficient and environmentally friendly form of transportation...JB

Image: State Island Ferry with in New York Harbor from Wikipedia

By Sewell Chan
Published March 7, 2007

New York City’s operating costs for the Staten Island ferry system have more than doubled in five years, largely because of reforms instituted after a deadly October 2003 crash, according to a report released yesterday.

The increase, to $83.8 million this year from $40.2 million in 2002, is most likely to be enduring, according to the city’s Independent Budget Office, which issued the report. It found that safety and security expenses were the greatest cause of the increase.

Read More:

NYC's Independent Budget Office Memo on Rising Ferry Costs

NYC Department of Transporation SI Fery Page

Wikipedia on the SI Ferry

Google Map with SI Ferry Route Highlighted,-74.037209&spn=0.113522,0.284271&t=h&om=1

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

CMRC Participates in Mayor's Office of Sustainability "PlaNYC 2030"

On Tuesday, March 6, the CMRC joined together with the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability and numerous non-profit organizations, government agencies and local residents in New York to discuss the city's future development and conservation plans.

The meetings, appropriately named "
PlaNYC 2030," focused on a variety of topics ranging from community development and transportation to parks and waterways. During the town-hall style meeting participants listened to an overview of the city's effort, presented by Director Rohit Aggarwala, outlining Mayor Bloomberg's vision and the Office's Mission (created December 2006) and presenting its diverse Advisory Board. In addition, PlaNYC outlined ten focus areas for a sustainable future:

  • Housing
  • Congestion
  • Open Spaces
  • Energy
  • Transportation
  • Water
  • Air Quality
  • Brownfields
  • Waterways
  • Climate Change

During breakout sessions with participants, the dialog quickly shifted to creating solutions for our communities and local environment. Many of the topics connected directly to our waterways and coasts, including the potential for increasing water-based transportation to reduce traffic, the impacts of climate change on sea-level rise and green roofs and sustainable design incentive programs to reduce stormwater and energy/water usage.

The event proved very successful for creating a dialog on the issue, but many were also skeptical of its long-term reality. Kevin Powell (of MTV fame, now a journalist and Brooklyn resident) pointed out during the feedback session, "We need the Mayor to step up and make the Office of Sustainability a permanent office to ensure that the recommendations of these meetings are carried out over then next twenty-three years."

The comment was well received by participants and left the author thinking "what will it take to make this amazing collaborative initiative one that produces on-the-ground results and not just another report?"

Only time (well about 23 years) will tell....JB

Photos: Disappearing Wetlands, Alex McLean
Governors Island Swim, NYC Economic Development Corporation

PlaNYC Homepage

PlaNYC Waterways Page

Mayors Vision and Advisory Board

Advisory Board Members
Hon. Daniel L. Doctoroff, Chair Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding
Hon. Christine C. Quinn, Speaker, New York City Council
Carlton Brown, Principal and COO, Full Spectrum NY, LLC
Marcia Bystryn, Executive Director, New York League of Conservation Voters
Robert Fox, Partner, Cook + Fox Architects
Ester Fuchs, Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Andrew H. Darrell, Regional Director, Environmental Defense
Hon. James F. Gennaro, Council Member and Chair, Committee on Environmental Protection Ashok Gupta, Air & Energy Program Director, Natural Resources Defense Council
Michael Northrop, Program Director, Sustainable Development Program, Rockefeller Brothers Ed Ott, Executive Director, NYC Central Labor Council
Elizabeth C. Girardi Schoen, Senior Director, Global Environment, Health, and Safety, Pfizer Peggy M. Shepard, Executive Director and Co-Founder, West Harlem Environmental Action Steven Spinola, President, Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)
Daniel R. Tishman, Chairman and CEO, Tishman Construction Corporation K
athryn Wylde, President and CEO, Partnership for New York City
Robert D. Yaro, President, Regional Plan Association
Elizabeth C. Yeampierre, Executive Director, United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

In the News: Cuomo Moves Toward Lawsuit Over a 50-Year-Old Oil Spill in Greenpoint

New State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo showcased a strong approach to conservation earlier this month when he announced that New York State would sue Exxon Mobil and others for a 50-year old oil spill. The Newtown Creek spill in Greenpoint, larger than the Exxon Valdez in size, resulted from multiple leaks that existed during the 1950's. The Attorney General's move was welcomed by elected officials and community members alike, and hopefully is indicative of future actions of New York State to conserve our marine environment...JB

Image: Newtown Creek, Wikipedia

By Nicholas Confessore
February 9, 2007

New York State moved to sue Exxon Mobil and four other companies on Thursday to force them to clean up a half-century-old spill of millions of gallons of oil lying under the Greenpoint neighborhood in Brooklyn and to repair environmental damage inflicted on nearby Newtown Creek.

The spill, originally several times the size of the Exxon Valdez oil leak, resulted from an accident in the 1950s and lay undiscovered until 1978. In notices of intent to sue that were sent to the five companies, Andrew M. Cuomo, the state attorney general, said that so much oil had leaked into the creek that some samples of its sediment, when dried and weighed, were nearly one-tenth oil.

The notices also disclosed that an internal study by one of the companies found nearly 100 different pollutants in the creek water or sediment, including benzene, arsenic and lead.

The other companies receiving the notices were BP, Chevron, KeySpan and Phelps Dodge.

Read more:

Newtown Creek on Wikipedia

Riverkeeper Page on Newtown Creek Spill

Google Map of Newtown Creek,-73.999206&sspn=0.006898,0.009699&ie=UTF8&z=15&ll=40.736527,-73.955369&spn=0.013788,0.033474&t=h&om=1

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

In the News: U.S. Gets a 'C-' on Protecting Oceans

The Joint Ocean Commission released its 2006 Report Card last week, giving the United States a "C-" on its efforts to protect and restore our nation's coasts and oceans. The grade, a modest increase from the "D+" given last year by the ten-member task force, clearly indicates that significant improvements are still needed at the policy level. In addition, financial support for research, planning and management programs is sorely lacking (2005- "F"; 2006 - "F") leading many to believe that solutions will need to come from the local level...JB

By Andrew Miga
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The United States made modest progress on protecting its oceans last year, but still needs to boost funding for desperately needed reforms, a commission on ocean policy said Tuesday.

Overall, the U.S. earned a "C-" grade from the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative, a collaboration between the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the privately funded Pew Oceans Commission. That was a slight improvement over a "D+" grade on the commission's report card for 2005.

Read More:

Joint Ocean Commission

U.S Ocean Policy Report Card (PDF)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

In the News: Fuel for debate on the sound

Liquefied Natural Gas or LNG and the high demand for offload facilities in the Northeast will certainly be one of the more contentious debates of the upcoming year. A recent series of public meetings in Long Island brought out proponents and challengers alike, all speaking to the impacts of the planned Broadwater Terminal. Currently in question - a report that found there would be "no significant impacts" in the already heavily degraded Long Island Sound...JB

Photo: Artist Image of Proposed LNG Facility from Underwater from Newsday

By Jennifer Smith
Newsday Staff Writer
January 9, 2007

The contentious debate over a liquefied natural gas terminal proposed for Long Island Sound shifts into high gear this week at a series of public meetings on the project's likely environmental impact.

At issue is a report by federal energy officials which concluded that the massive Broadwater LNG Terminal -- a 1,200-foot-long floating facility that would require about 22 miles of new pipeline under Long Island Sound -- would have no "significant impacts to the environment."

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Read the Full Report here:,0,2378274.htmlstory?coll=ny-main-bigpix

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

CMRC State of Our Coasts: 2007

Sea level rise. Combined sewer overflows. Alternative energy. Floating pools. Business stewardship. Sustainability.

What do these topics all have in common?

They dominated our headlines in 2006 as our coasts, oceans and waterfronts became a major political, scientific and social area of concern.


The past year brought national and worldwide recognition to the severe degradation of the species, habitats and communities that surround our coastal ecosystem. Simultaneous reports by the US Commission on Ocean Policy and Pew Oceans Commission (now the Joint Ocean Commission) revealed that we are truly at a tipping point for our water-based natural resources, calling for swift and immediate action by our political, academic and business leaders.

Closer to home, Combined Sewer Overflows or CSOs, dominated the news and focus of the NY – NJ Harbor Bight’s coastal managers. The goal – to prevent over 600 outfalls from dumping a mixture of raw sewage and runoff into our estuaries during wet weather storms with rainfall over one-half of an inch. The challenge – how to upgrade treatment plants and reduce stormwater flow upstream to improve water quality at a price the city and its citizens can afford.

Another major issue in 2006 was that of Public Access to the Waterfront. One inventive concept by Ann Buttenwieser created a Floating Pool that will allow people to get near (and in) the water now resides at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Others organizations, such as Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, worked to examine just how accessible our waterfronts actually are by mapping all of the access points in the urban estuary.

Finally, following on quickly rising oil prices and our nations “addiction” to petroleum, different forms of Renewable Energy came to the forefront. In many cases, these included using the powers of the oceans and our coasts to improve sustainability in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Wind farm proposals were put on the table up-and-down the coast, tidal power pilot projects were introduced in the East River and Liquid Natural Gas facilities were planned for just offshore Sandy Hook and the Long Island Sound.


In 2006, the Coastal Marine Resource Center continued to examine the progress of the above issues, among others, and work to implement sustainable solutions for our habitats and communities with conservation of the Harbor Bight in mind. This included partnering with policy-makers, coastal managers, academic researchers and community, business and environmental leaders to increase awareness of the challenges facing our coasts and oceans.

Our Harbor Bight Policy Program worked with our regional and national leaders to research and develop plans for coastal conservation. In addition, the CMRC worked to catalog the responsibilities of these agencies and officials though our Policy Project Minding the Shore: Who is Responsible? which included the following in 2006 (click link for more information):

In addition, our Sustainable Coasts Program worked to better integrate the natural resources of our waterfronts and oceans with the social capital found in our communities. In Asbury Park, our work translated directly into increased access and economic opportunity for low-income residents in the City. Our Exploring Our Coasts & Waterfronts project continued to document the assets and challenges of waterfront communities both locally and worldwide:

One of the biggest accomplishments for the CMRC in 2006 was the introduction of the Business Stewardship Initiative, a project aimed at bringing together the resources of the private sector with local conservation efforts. Over 100 business and environmental leaders joined together during our workshops and speaker series to discuss the opportunities and outline a strategy for increased collaboration. In addition, the CMRC began efforts to implement its Volunteer Network and Stewards of the Estuary Recognition Program, both of which will be major initiatives of the organization in the upcoming year.

The most exciting venture to evolve out of the Business Stewardship Initiative in 2006 was a joint Green Roofs Project with the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp. The project aims to assist local businesses in the area with the planning and implementation of green roofs as a means for increasing energy efficiency and reducing stormwater runoff. The project is currently in planning stages and had identified a local business partner. Stay tuned for more in 2007!

As well, the CMRC, in coordination with Key-East Consulting and Fallout Pictures Kicked off its Virtual Estuary Project in 2006. This multi-media effort, the first of its kind nationwide, will use the current explosion of online visual media to transport students and residents directly to the estuary. Podcasts, interactive maps and even educational games will assist with educating the public on the vast natural resources that exist in our urban metropolitan region and the conservation challenges facing our shores.

Finally, the CMRC had a little fun in 2006. We were able to work with several high profile individuals and businesses to raise awareness for coastal conservation in the NY – NJ ecosystem. In July, International Recording Artist Moby brought his enthusiasm to the stage in support of the CMRC’s efforts, rocking a packed house at East River Park. Our recent end of year Waterfront Luau in Dumbo celebrated a “Superfine” year in coastal conservation. Companies such as Patagonia, Nautica, Brooklyn Brewery, Zipcar, Shift your Gift, Interrupcion, Aveda, Jurlique, Rough Guides, Outside Magazine and 3R Living all provided some greatly appreciated support to make both events a success.


The CMRC will continue to work with our dedicated staff, members, volunteers and partners to put forth a clear and viable plan for advancing the conservation of our coasts, oceans and waterfronts in 2007. It’s apparent that the issues surrounding our waters have come to the surface. Now the challenge will be planning and financing solutions to these concerns.

The CMRC pledges to be at the forefront of coastal planning and policy to assure that resources are made available for the conservation of habitats and communities in the Harbor Bight.

See you in the water!