Since 2013, when I wrote “Why West Chelsea Floods” and presented Aqua-Fence as the best and least-expensive solution for keeping West Chelsea dry, two developments have come up that would prevent the installation of this product around the entire district. Neither are trivial, but both can be overcome.
• The first is that FEMA will not insure a neighborhood diking solution, taking only a building-by-building approach to resilience. This increases the complexity of making the district resilient to flooding and decreases manageability, and increases the cost exponentially. Luhring Augustine tested the product installation on West 24th Street in August of 2014. As can also be seen, the futility of protecting one building when surrounding buildings are left exposed is obvious.
Both decisions could be appealed and resistance applied to the problem, but that would require a concerted commitment from the Tenants and Owners in West Chelsea, not a likely prospect in an area with no BID and no art dealers’ association to organize the effort. So it goes.
However, the Department of City Planning has been working on this resilience issue for a few years and I have been fortunate to have been involved. In 2015 they published their “Resilient Art Spaces” initiative, which you can read about here.