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Environment

The Rush to Storm-Proof Waterfront Parks

The NYC Parks Department is laying out a set of guidelines to prevent parkland from getting swamped by rain and waves.
Waves roll in as a woman walks along Rockaway Beach in October 2015.
Waves roll in as a woman walks along Rockaway Beach in October 2015.Kathy Willens/AP

New York City’s parks are green oases amid glass, concrete, and steel. But though they feel transportive, they’re often not far away from the city’s edge—and particularly those parts of the city’s silhouette that are bordered by waves. Roughly half of the land managed by the NYC Parks Department is directly on the water. That proximity to the shoreline makes these blissful parcels especially vulnerable to flooding, storm surges, and other consequences of wild weather.

When Hurricane Sandy made disastrous landfall five years ago, the storm swamped 5,700 acres of the city’s parkland and spawned $800 million in damages. Is a city built on the shore destined to be full of soggy recreation spaces?