Albany, NY - February 24, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Port Authority has approved an additional $30 million investment in the Hudson-Raritan Estuary Resource Program (HRERP) for New York State as part of an environmental and sustainability initiative included in the recently approved $27.6 billion, 10-year Capital Plan. The HRERP funds will preserve open space habitat and wetlands along the Hudson River and help to ensure the region’s long-term quality of life.
“The HRERP program has been essential to the State’s efforts to improve our coastal environments and build cleaner and more storm-resilient communities,” Governor Cuomo said. “Preserving open waterfront space helps create storm buffers and benefits local residents and businesses. HRERP funding has aided those efforts on a variety of projects, including the creation of new waterfront access along the Harlem River and the protection of wetlands in Jamaica Bay. This additional $30 million will go a long way toward the creation of safer, environmentally-friendly communities.
The HRERP fund was created in 2001, authorizing $30 million to acquire and preserve open space identified by staff as suitable for conservation, ecological enhancement, public access, and resiliency. The original authorization has protected 153 acres in New York.
Reauthorization of the Port Authority's HRERP will fund projects that preserve natural habitat and provide flood buffers. The program aims to balance Port Authority commercial and port development needs with ecological enhancements and protection of the coastal edge, improved public access to the waterfront, storm resiliency, and reduction of non-point source runoff.
“Along with investing in transportation infrastructure and driving economic growth, the Port Authority is committed to improving the quality of life throughout the region,” said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. “Through the Harbor-Raritan Estuary Resources Program, the agency is delivering on this commitment by creating valuable recreation space and preserving an important wetland habitat.”
Port Authority acquisitions have helped to protect the economic interests of several neighborhoods and communities along the waterfront. HRERP funds have been used to preserve wetland habitat, provide waterfront access to underserved communities, and create storm buffers throughout the estuary. Many of the sites acquired by the Port Authority and transferred to park agencies are in hurricane coastal hazard flood zones.
This crucial fund has helped to protect some of NYC’s most iconic landscapes including Pouch Camp and North Mount Loretto on Staten Island, Depot Place along the Harlem River, and Idlewild Marshes in Jamaica Bay.
Each of the properties acquired under the program in the past were vetted and endorsed by multiple federal, state and municipal agencies and nonprofit environmental organizations. Port Authority staff has worked closely with the Trust for Public Land and the New York/New Jersey Baykeeper to identify and acquire sites that meet criteria for acquisition under the terms of the Program.