Bay waters are already rising due to climate change and land subsidence. This combination increases the relative rate of sea level rise in the region: during the last century, the relative sea level has risen approximately one foot in the Chesapeake, nearly twice the global average. Scientists predict that the bay’s relative sea level could rise anywhere from 1.3 feet (0.4 meters) to 5.2 feet (1.59 meters) by the end of this century. Of greater immediate concern is flooding from tropical storms, hurricanes and nor’easters. Storm surge associated with extreme weather events will threaten both natural and human infrastructure in the bay.
The City of Hoboken is moving forward to acquire a 6-acre undeveloped property in northwest Hoboken for use as a large “resiliency park” with at least 1 million gallons of integrated flood mitigation capacity. A portion of the property would also be designed with a municipal parking garage, potentially with rooftop recreation or other public amenities. The property is currently owned by BASF (previously Henkel/Cognis), and the project is one of three “resiliency parks” planned as part of the Rebuild by Design flood resiliency plan.
“This six-acre property is the City’s last remaining option for acquiring such a large amount of contiguous land for open space, and it would provide Hoboken with a unique opportunity to address three of our most pressing challenges – flooding, open space, and parking,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “Creating Hoboken’s largest park – the same size as Pier A – would provide much-needed open space in western Hoboken, take pressure off our other overcrowded parks, and complement our flood resiliency strategy by being designed to hold at least 1 million gallons of stormwater runoff. It would also add parking capacity by creating Hoboken’s first municipal garage in northwest Hoboken.”
The plan begins with waterfront parks that provide physical defense from storm surges, while bringing more public access to the waterfront. In heavy rain, stormwater can be caught, and stored, in retention basins that will be built under three new “resiliency parks.”
Eight acres of new open space will essentially double as a sponge for storm water runoff. Two wet weather pumping stations — one already online with the second now under construction— will pump out any excess.
Through zoning code changes, Hoboken is also successfully incentivizing the transformation of flat rooftops around the city into green roofs, as well as creating design guidelines for property owners who can better flood-proof their homes while retaining a pedestrian-friendly streetscape.
Increased vegetation, on roofs and in neighborhoods, soaks up rain and flood water. It also filters pollutants, encourages wildlife and biodiversity, and reduces heating, cooling and sound insulation costs for buildings.