An initiative to begin a climate resiliency study for Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens received a half-million dollar grant in the latest congressional spending bill, which was signed into law Tuesday.
The grant, submitted to Congress last year by Queens Rep. Grace Meng, will allow conservation nonprofits and community groups to identify how to best adapt the borough’s largest park for the effects of climate change.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park faces a severe risk of flooding in the coming decades, according to localized climate projections by the New York City Panel on Climate Change. By the 2050s, the park, a former marshland, could get flooded with salty water from the Long Island Sound on a monthly basis, according to those projections.
During Hurricane Ida, the park flooded extensively, with water running into the two highways that border the park, the Van Wyck Expressway and Grand Central Parkway.
“We wanted something that would impact the most number of people possible, especially after Hurricane Ida, where you literally saw parts of Flushing Meadows Corona Park flood to the point where people couldn't walk out,” Meng said in an interview Thursday.
The $530,322 grant, distributed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will go to the Waterfront Alliance, a nonprofit that advocates for climate adaptation. The group will coordinate the creation of the resiliency plan with community groups, according to Karen Imas, the group’s senior director of programs.
The goal of the plan, Imas said by email, is to indicate to city and state leaders where to best spend funding from future federal infrastructure bills and potential funds from state bonds.
“Ideally one day we would like to have funding from all three levels, the city, the state and federal,” Meng said.
The Waterfront Alliance plans to start work on the plan this summer and complete it by the end of next year, Imas said.
Mayor Eric Adams included the park in a resiliency plan his campaign released last year in the wake of Hurricane Ida, but so far City Hall has not proposed any new adaptation initiatives there. There are no estimates available for the total spending needed to make the park resilient to coastal flooding into the middle of the century.
Last year the city finished a construction study begun in 2017 to replace the park’s Tidal Gate Bridge, which keeps storm surges from overflowing into the park grounds.
The park already has $350 million invested in recent and upcoming renovations, including things like improving water drainage, according to the city’s parks department.
A spokesperson for City Hall declined an interview request for Kizzy Charles-Guzman, who leads the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice. In a statement included in a press release for the grant, Charles-Guzman said she supported the resiliency study.