Hard edge or soft? The impact of construction on the St. George shore.

With construction presumably about to begin on two large waterfront projects in St. George, the New York Wheel and the Empire Outlets, the question arises what will be the impact of these mega projects on the shoreline. The water’s edge is a problematic area,

The water's edge in front of the Empire Outlets site.

The water’s edge in front of the Empire Outlets site.

scarred by decades of neglect. rampant trash accumulation, runaway water pollution and a weedy, rock filled terrain. The recent park construction has greatly improved the shore with the creation of a carefully delineated soft edge. However, it is a delicate balance of shoreline1nature and human use and one wonders how the tremendously increased human traffic that is in store for this area will impact that shoreline. Among the many things that the North Shore community must be vigilant of during the construction of the wheel and the mall is the effect these will have on the quality of our shoreline. The dark, slimy rocks and the turgid harbor water may not be the most picturesque water’s edge in the world, but it has its own modest beauty and it deserves to be treated respectfully.

The shoreline itself is not part of either project, and it remains the responsibility of government agencies. And since soft edge shoreline stabilization is the preferred approach nowadays, according to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, it is unlikely that the shoreline2shoreline is in for a hardening (seawalls, stone-filled wire baskets, etc.). But soft edge shorelines need constant maintenance, and this one will be particularly vulnerable to degradation from the changes coming just a few yards away, with increased run-off from construction and ongoing use, and the probability of increased trash accumulation. In addition, there are proposals for new and expanded ferry service which will most likely require more docking structures in the water. How are the developers and the city planning on meeting the challenges that these new conditions create?


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