Egg Harbor Township has applied for a federal grant of $2.4 million to tear down four eyesore motels in West Atlantic City as a way to mitigate flooding on properties severely and repeatedly inundated with water.
“We can’t build anything there once the motels are demolished,” said Business Administrator Peter Miller. “We think it should look like a green belt.”
So do we.
In fact, Atlantic City and other vulnerable shore towns should all take a harder look at green solutions to climate change challenges. For one, not addressing these problems in more holistic ways can be costly.
In West Atlantic City, for example, the four motels have had a total of 56 flooding claims over the past 10 years, equal to $3.8 million. And experts predict that flooding dangers will only increase over time.
Our region should look to places like Hoboken for successful solutions. In 2014, the city won a $230 million grant as part of Rebuild by Design, a federally funded flood prevention project that involves the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
“Hoboken is the fourth densest city in the U.S.,” reads the website Rebuild by Design. “Once a blue-collar industrial and manufacturing city, it is becoming a bedroom community of New York City’s central business districts. Since large parts of Hoboken were once marshland and a filled-in island, the city is susceptible to flash floods and storm surges, even from minor storms. Hurricane Sandy flooded much of the city, disrupting the primary transit hub for over 50,000 people.”
Rebuild by Design is a multifaceted approach to managing stormwater along the Hudson River. It explores using hard infrastructure and soft landscape — including permeable paving, rain gardens and rainwater storage — for coastal defense.
Hoboken, which competed against other coastal communities for the funds, was poised to act on this grant. The city has had a Green Infrastructure Strategic Plan since 2013. The project’s comprehensive approach has four integrated components and incorporates two other neighboring communities, Weehawken and Jersey City.
As part of a resiliency campaign, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction named Hoboken a role model city when it comes to its plans for flood protection.
If Atlantic City and its neighbors are serious about developing a more sustainable future, they would do well to heed the lessons of Hoboken with long-term strategic planning, local cooperation and multifaceted funding and support.