[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 221 (Tuesday, November 17, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 71819-71822]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-29464]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

[Docket No. FR-5901-N-01]


Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement 
(EIS) For the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, City of New York, 
NY

AGENCY: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and 
Development, HUD.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 
gives notice that the City of New York (the City), through its Office 
of Management and Budget (OMB), as the ``Responsible Entity,'' as that 
term is defined by 24 CFR 58.2(a)(7)(i), and as the Lead Agency in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA), intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) 
that will evaluate the environmental and social impacts of alternatives 
that are being proposed to improve coastal and social resiliency by 
installing an integrated flood protection system on the East Side of 
Southern Manhattan between Montgomery Street on the south and East 23rd 
Street on the north (with an alternative that extends to East 25th 
Street). Such measures would be designed to address the impacts of 
coastal flooding on the quality of the human environment due to both 
storm hazards and sea level rise. The City, through OMB, is the Grantee 
of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds 
that have been appropriated under the Disaster Relief Appropriations 
Act, 2013 (Pub. L. 113-2, approved January 29, 2013) related to 
disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and 
housing, and economic revitalization in the most impacted and 
distressed areas resulting from a major disaster that was declared 
pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency 
Assistance Act of 1974 (Stafford Act) in calendar years 2011, 2012, and 
2013. This project includes funds that were awarded as the ``BIG U'' as 
part of HUD's Rebuild by Design competition.
    The proposed EIS will address the environmental review requirements 
of NEPA, the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) (6 
NYCRR Part 617), and the New York City Environmental Quality Review 
(CEQR). This Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS is therefore, being 
published in accordance with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) 
regulations found at 40 CFR parts 1500-1508 and HUD regulations found 
at 24 CFR part 58 and is announcing that a public scoping process on 
the EIS is commencing.

DATES: Comments on the Draft Scope of Work to prepare a Draft EIS are 
requested by this notice and will be accepted until December 21, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the Draft Scope of Work to prepare a Draft EIS 
are requested by this notice and will be accepted by the individual 
named in this notice under the heading FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

[[Page 71820]]

Comments will also be accepted at the joint NEPA/SEQRA/CEQR scoping 
meeting to be held on December 3, 2015. All comments received by 
December 21, 2015 will be considered prior to the acceptance, 
certification, and distribution of the Draft EIS by the Lead Agencies. 
Commenters are also asked to submit any information related to reports 
or other environmental studies planned or completed in the project area 
and major issues that the Draft EIS should consider, and recommend 
mitigation measures and alternatives associated with the Proposed 
Action. Federal agencies having jurisdiction by law, special expertise, 
or other special interest should report their interest and indicate 
their readiness to aid in the EIS effort as a ``Cooperating Agency.'' 
The following federal agency has thus far expressed intent to 
participate as a Cooperating Agency: The United States Army Corps of 
Engineers (USACE). Written requests of individuals and organizations to 
participate as Section 106 Consulting Parties may also be made to the 
individual named in this notice under the heading FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.
    The public and agencies will also be offered an opportunity to 
comment on the purpose and need, range of alternatives, level of 
detail, methodologies, and all elements of the Draft Scope of Work 
through public and agency outreach that will consist of: A public 
scoping meeting (described below); a public hearing on the Draft EIS; 
meetings with the applicable Cooperating, Involved, and Interested 
Agencies; and meetings with Section 106 Consulting Parties, including 
federally recognized Indian tribes. Once completed and released, the 
Draft EIS will be available for public and agency review and comment.
    Following the public scoping process, a Draft EIS will be prepared 
that analyzes the Proposed Action. Once the Draft EIS is certified as 
complete, a notice will then be sent to appropriate government 
agencies, groups, and individuals known to have an involvement or 
interest in the Draft EIS and particularly in the environmental impact 
issues identified therein. A Notice of Availability of the DEIS will be 
published in the Federal Register and local media outlets at that time 
in accordance with HUD and CEQ regulations. Any person or agency 
interested in receiving notice and commenting on the Draft Scope of 
Work or Draft EIS should contact the individual named in this notice 
under the heading FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT no later than 
December 21, 2015.
    With OMB serving as the Lead Agency, the EIS will be prepared in 
accordance with NEPA, CEQ regulations found at 40 CFR parts 1500-1508, 
and HUD regulations found at 24 CFR part 58. In accordance with 42 
U.S.C. 5304(g) and HUD's regulations found at 24 CFR part 58 
(Environmental Review Procedures for Entities Assuming HUD 
Environmental Responsibilities), HUD has provided for assumption of its 
NEPA authority and NEPA lead agency responsibility by OMB for the 
purposes of administering the CDBG-DR Program in New York City. The EIS 
will also comply, as necessary, with Section 106 of the National 
Historic Preservation Act, the Clean Water Act, Executive Order 12898, 
``Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority 
Populations and Low-Income Populations,'' Executive Order 11990, 
``Protection of Wetlands,'' and other applicable federal, State, and 
local laws and regulations. (The New York City Department of Parks & 
Recreation (DPR) will be the Lead Agency for the SEQRA and CEQR 
processes, which will be coordinated with the NEPA requirements.)

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Further information and a copy of the 
Draft Scope of Work may be obtained by contacting Calvin Johnson, 
Assistant Director CDBG-DR, OMB, 255 Greenwich Street, 8th Floor, New 
York, New York 10007,or via email at CDBGDR-enviro@omb.nyc.gov. The 
Draft Scope of Work is also available on http://www.nyc.gov/html/cdbg/html/home/home.shtml.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The City of New York, acting through OMB, under the authority of 
HUD's regulations at 24 CFR Part 58, and in cooperation with other 
Cooperating, Involved, and Interested agencies, is proposing to prepare 
an EIS that will analyze the potential environmental and social effects 
of alternatives that are being proposed to improve coastal and social 
resiliency and reduce coastal flooding impacts on the East Side of 
Southern Manhattan. This project was awarded $335 million in funds as 
the ``BIG U'' as part of HUD's Rebuild by Design competition.
    The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force launched Rebuild by 
Design in June 2013, a multi-stage regional design competition to 
promote resilience for the Sandy-affected region. HUD conducted the 
competition under the authority of the America COMPETES Reauthorization 
Act of 2010, and administered the competition in partnership with 
philanthropic, academic, and nonprofit organizations. The goal of the 
competition was two-fold: To promote innovation by developing 
regionally-scalable but locally-contextual solutions that increase 
resilience in the region, and to implement selected proposals with both 
public and private funding dedicated to this effort. The competition 
represented a policy innovation as HUD set aside CDBG-DR funding 
specifically to incentivize implementation of winning projects and 
proposals. The competition process aimed to strengthen understanding of 
regional interdependencies, fostering coordination and resilience both 
at the local level and across the U.S. For more information on the 
competition, please visit: http://www.rebuildbydesign.org/.
    Hurricane Sandy significantly impacted the East Side of Manhattan, 
including the proposed project area (defined above), highlighting 
existing deficiencies in the City's resiliency and ability to 
adequately protect vulnerable populations and critical infrastructure 
from flooding during major storm events. These impacts included 
extensive inland flooding due to tidal surge with extensive damage to 
residential and commercial property, impacts to critical health care 
facilities, and the failure of critical power, transportation, and 
water and sewer infrastructure. Addressing the vulnerability of the 
proposed project area to coastal storms and protecting critical 
infrastructure and resources in light of the likelihood of more 
frequent and intense flood events is essential to the City's resiliency 
planning and would align with the Coastal Protection Initiatives as 
described in the City's A Stronger, More Resilient New York report and 
the goals in the City's One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just 
City (OneNYC) plan (available at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/onenyc/downloads/pdf/publications/OneNYC.pdf). Moreover, urban design features 
integrated to the proposed flood protection system would enhance access 
to open spaces along the East River waterfront. The EIS will examine 
several alternatives aimed at achieving these objectives.

Purpose and Need of the Proposed Action

    The Proposed Action consists of the installation of an integrated 
flood protection system on the East Side of Southern Manhattan between 
Montgomery Street on the south and East 23rd Street on the north for 
the purposes of reducing flood hazards, protecting a diverse and 
vulnerable

[[Page 71821]]

residential population, and safeguarding critical energy, 
infrastructure, commercial, and transportation assets. Consistent with 
the City's Coastal Protection Initiatives, the principal goals and 
objectives of the Proposed Action are:
     Provide a reliable flood protection system for the flood 
hazard area that lies between East 23rd Street on the north and 
Montgomery Street on the south;
     Improve access to, and enhance open space resources along 
the waterfront, including East River Park and Stuyvesant Cove Park;
     Respond quickly to the urgent need for increased flood 
protection and resiliency, particularly for vulnerable communities 
within the flood hazard area; and
     Achieve implementation milestones and project funding 
allocations as established by HUD.

Project Alternatives

    The Proposed Action is composed of two project areas, Project Area 
One and Project Area Two. Project Area One extends south from Cherry 
Street along Montgomery Street to Pier 42 and continues north along the 
waterfront to East 13th Street. Project Area Two extends from East 13th 
Street north to East 23rd Street and then west along East 23rd Street 
to First Avenue. The EIS will discuss the alternative designs for these 
project areas that were considered for analysis, identify those that 
were eliminated from further consideration because they do not meet the 
stated purpose and need, and identify those that will be analyzed 
further. It is expected that project alternatives will continue to be 
developed and refined during the public scoping process, with input 
from the public, agencies, and other stakeholders. The EIS alternatives 
analysis will consist of a comparison of the impacts under each 
alternative pursuant to 24 CFR Part 58, as well as how well each 
alternative achieves the Proposed Action's purpose and need. This 
process, which will be described in detail in the EIS, will lead to the 
designation of a Preferred Alternative. At this time, it is anticipated 
that the following alternatives will be analyzed.

1. No Action Alternative

    The No Action Alternative assumes that no flood control measures 
are installed in the proposed project area and that current trends 
relating to impacts from coastal storms and sea level rise will 
continue. The No Action Alternative will also assume that Con Edison 
would continue any planned resiliency projects at its East 14th Street 
generating station and substations, that Pier 42 at Montgomery Street 
would continue to be reconstructed as a public open space, that the 
Houston Street bridge over the FDR Drive would be reconstructed as is 
currently proposed by the New York City Department of Transportation, 
and that a number of other projects would be implemented both within 
and near the proposed project area through the 2022 analysis year.

2. Flood Protection With Park Improvements Alternative

    To ensure that a flood protection system is feasible and meets the 
project's purpose and need, various design options for integrated flood 
protection and enhanced waterfront open space and connections were 
developed. One of these alternatives is the Flood Protection System 
with Park Improvements Alternative. This alternative meets the flood 
protection objectives of the Proposed Action using a combination of 
integrated flood protection systems that include engineered berms, 
floodwalls, deployables and drainage improvements, which is expected to 
include the following.
     Engineered berms (also referred to as a ``bridging 
berm''). Engineered berms elevate the existing topography as a line of 
flood protection and, therefore, require a wider space in order to be 
installed. They are typically constructed of a compacted fill material 
core, capped by stiff clay to withstand storm waves, with a stabilizing 
landscaped cover. These berms can be integrated into a park setting and 
are also considered adaptable to future design needs. Floodwalls (see 
below) are also used in conjunction with a berm at locations where 
there are horizontal space limitations. In certain reaches of Project 
Area One, berms are also combined with neighborhood connections across 
the FDR Drive to create ``bridging berms'' that provide the dual 
benefit of improved neighborhood access with flood protection. 
Engineered berms are proposed to be used for flood protection within 
East River Park in Project Area One and within Stuyvesant Cove Park in 
Project Area Two.
     Floodwalls. Floodwalls are narrow, vertical flood 
protection structures with a below-grade foundation that are designed 
to withstand both storm surge and waves. They are typically constructed 
of steel, reinforced concrete, or a combination of materials, with a 
reinforced concrete cap, and can be integrated as a design feature into 
a park setting. Floodwalls can be used where there are horizontal space 
limitations and when there is a design objective to protect existing 
recreational facilities by narrowing the footprint of the flood 
protection system. Floodwalls are proposed to be used as flood 
protection (in combination with berms) along the interior limits of 
East River Park in Project Area One (adjacent to the FDR Drive) and 
along the west (or inland) side of the FDR Drive between about East 
13th and East 18th Streets in Project Area Two.
     Deployable Systems. It is necessary in many flood 
protection systems to provide an opening to accommodate day-to-day 
vehicular or pedestrian circulation along a street or sidewalk, for 
example. In these instances, deployable systems are used. There are 
several types of deployable system choices, including swing gates, 
roller gates, crest gates, and demountable gates. The type of system to 
be used depends upon a number of factors that include length of the 
opening that is required. With the Proposed Action, deployable systems 
are proposed as flood protection along inland streets and sidewalk 
crossings including the FDR Drive main line and ramps in both Project 
Area One and Project Area Two, and along East 23rd and East 25th 
Streets in Project Area Two.
     Sewer System Improvements. An evaluation of the need for 
modifications to the existing City sewer system will be undertaken to 
determine the resiliency needs of the proposed project area with 
respect to the operation of the sewer system during a storm event. 
Related improvements may include installing gates on sewer 
interceptors, flood-proofing regulators and manholes, and other 
improvements that address drainage service during a storm condition as 
may evolve during the project review.
    The Flood Protection with Park Improvements Alternative 
incorporates a combination of these systems to achieve the flood 
protection objectives of the Proposed Action, and includes park 
improvements in East River Park and the reconstruction of Stuyvesant 
Cove Park. In East River Park, an integrated combination of walls and 
landscaped berms would be used; the landscaped berms would include 
enhanced passive spaces, and the existing bikeway and walkway through 
the park would be reconstructed. In Stuyvesant Cove Park, a berm system 
would be installed with a reconstructed bikeway and walkway.

Two Additional Project Alternatives

    Another alternative for analysis is a Flood Protection System with 
Park and Neighborhood Connection

[[Page 71822]]

Improvements. This alternative would also achieve the flood protection 
objectives of the Proposed Action, but would provide additional park 
amenities and neighborhood connections including a meandering bikeway 
and walkway, redesign of several pedestrian bridges, and more extensive 
landscaped features in East River Park. It would also include the 
reconstruction of Stuyvesant Cove Park. Key elements of this 
alternative include enhancing the pedestrian bridges at Delancey, East 
6th, and East 10th Streets.
    Alternatives will continue to be developed and refined during the 
EIS scoping process with input and consultation from local, state, and 
federal agencies that are either involved, interested, or cooperating 
in this environmental review process. These agencies include, but are 
not limited to, the New York City Departments of Transportation and 
Environmental Protection, the New York State Departments of 
Transportation and Environmental Conservation, and the U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers along with input provided by non-agency stakeholders and 
the general public. It is expected that each of the alternatives 
selected for analysis in the Draft EIS will include the essential flood 
protection measures described above, in differing configurations, and 
with alternative approaches to upland drainage, providing park 
enhancements and neighborhood connectivity. Each alternative will also 
incorporate approaches for managing upland drainage, including 
infrastructure improvements that would address combined sanitary and 
stormwater drainage and maintain sewer system operations during a storm 
event.

Elements Common to Proposed Action Alternatives

    Each of the Proposed Action alternatives would also require water 
main, sewer, and utility relocations and drainage improvements, an 
operations and maintenance plan, utility and lighting plans, 
connections to other flood protection structures (e.g., the protection 
systems at the Con Edison East River Generating Facility and the United 
States Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center on East 23rd 
Street), and the repair and replacement of parkland and streets 
affected by construction. Construction activities may also require 
improvements to waterfront structures, temporary mooring facilities, 
and limited dredging along the East River to provide barge access 
during construction.

Need for the EIS

    The Proposed Action described above has the potential to 
significantly affect the quality of the environment and an EIS will 
therefore be prepared in accordance with the requirements of NEPA, 
SEQRA, and CEQR. Responses to this notice will be used to (1) determine 
significant environmental issues; (2) assist in developing a range of 
alternatives to be considered; (3) identify issues that the EIS should 
address; and (4) identify agencies and other parties that will 
participate in the EIS process and the basis for their involvement.

Scoping

    A joint NEPA/SEQRA/CEQR public scoping meeting on the Draft Scope 
of Work to prepare the Draft EIS will be held on December 3, 2015 at 
7:00 p.m. at Bard High School Early College, 525 East Houston Street, 
New York, NY 10002. As noted above, the Draft Scope of Work is 
available online at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/cdbg/html/home/home.shtml. 
The public scoping meeting location will be accessible to the mobility-
impaired. Interpreter services will be available for the hearing or 
visually impaired upon advance request. The EIS public scoping meeting 
will provide an opportunity for the public to learn more about the 
Proposed Action and provide input to the environmental review process. 
At the meeting, an overview of the Proposed Action and its alternatives 
will be presented and members of the public will be invited to comment 
on the Draft Scope of Work, including the methodologies to be used in 
developing the environmental analyses in the EIS. Written comments and 
testimony concerning the Draft Scope of Work will be accepted at this 
meeting. In accordance with 40 CFR 1501.7, affected Federal, State, and 
local agencies, any affected Indian tribes, and other interested 
parties will be sent a scoping notice. In accordance with 24 CFR 58.59, 
the scoping meeting will be preceded by a notice of public meeting 
published in the local news media at least 15 days before the hearing 
date.

Probable Environmental Effects

    The EIS will evaluate potential effects from the Proposed Action 
on: Land Use, Zoning, and Public Policy; Socioeconomic Conditions; 
Environmental Justice; Open Space; Historic and Cultural Resources; 
Urban Design and Visual Resources; Natural Resources; Hazardous 
Materials; Water and Sewer Infrastructure; Transportation; Greenhouse 
Gases and Climate Change; Public Health; Neighborhood Character; 
Construction; and Cumulative Effects.
    Questions may be directed to the individual named in this notice 
under the heading FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Dated: November 13, 2015.
Harriet Tregoning,
Principal Deputy Assistant, Secretary for Community Planning and 
Development.
[FR Doc. 2015-29464 Filed 11-16-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4210-67-P