Design and Planning for Flood Resiliency Guidelines for NYC Parks

NYC Parks is pleased to present Design and Planning for Flood Resiliency: Guidelines for NYC Parks. This interdisciplinary manual was developed by NYC Parks and released in November 2017 to provide guidance for developing and renovating coastally resilient waterfront parks. The Guidelines are specifically tailored for NYC Parks with the hope that other planners, designers, consultant firms, agencies, communities, and homeowners can use them as a reference for coastally resilient park planning and design.

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About the Guidelines

Drawing from NYC Parks’ decades of experience with waterfront park planning and design, taking into consideration valuable lessons learned after Hurricane Sandy, and in response to climate change projections, these Guidelines:

  • Define technical terms and explain concepts applicable to coastal resiliency and waterfront park development
  • Provide checklists that outline special considerations for waterfront park planning and design processes
  • Examine different waterfront park types and recommend best practices for each
  • Suggest plants, materials, and design details best suited for coastal conditions
  • Provide additional resources for those who wish to learn more

Throughout the Guidelines, NYC Parks encourages applying a contextual, site-by-site approach to the planning and design processes for each new or renovated waterfront project.  As noted throughout the text, every site is unique in its site-specific conditions, surrounding upland context, recreational, ecological, and community needs, and likely risk factors, and therefore should be treated as such.

Resilient waterfront park design should also account for “the norm, not the storm.”  In other words, waterfront parks should facilitate everyday public use during typical weather conditions while still including elements meant to face the risk – an approach that maximizes parkland utility and public investment.

With this in mind the Guidelines suggest that resilient waterfront parks, open spaces, and natural areas should, at a minimum, aim to meet the following goals:

  • Provide access and a high-quality park experience
  • Recover quickly from both small and large storms
  • Be designed with risks in mind

The Guidelines also suggest that, where appropriate and feasible, waterfront parks can also seek to:

  • Bolster urban ecosystems
  • Adapt edges for sea level rise
  • Aid in community-scale coastal resiliency

It is NYC Parks’ hope that these Guidelines will help its readers make well-informed decisions when developing or renovating waterfront parks for flood resiliency throughout New York City and beyond.

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