Dormitory Authority – State of New York (DASNY) Tier II Environmental Review Record Site-Specific Checklists for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development/”New York Rising” Storm Recovery Program
Posted on June 22, 2015
Client: Dormitory Authority – State of New York (DASNY)
Project Type: Tier II Environmental Review Record Site-Specific Checklists for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development/”New York Rising” Storm Recovery Program
Hurricane Sandy was one of the largest Atlantic hurricanes on record to reach the United States. Its landfall in October 2012 resulted in significant devastation along New York’s coastal communities. Following damage assessments by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the “Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013” was signed into law which included funding for necessary disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, as well as economic revitalization in the most impacted and distressed areas affected by the storm.
Given the magnitude of the recovery effort in New York State, the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery was established to manage and oversee the massive recovery/rebuilding program. One component of the multi-faceted overall recovery program is the New York Rising Housing Recovery Program. “New York Rising,” as it is commonly referred to, is the program responsible for channeling the federal disaster relief to the communities most affected……the homeowners residing along New York State’s coastline.
Given the significant amount of State and Federal dollars that were being utilized for the enormous recovery/reconstruction program, federal and state environmental requirements were mandated. Consistent with the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the analogous New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), a comprehensive, site-specific environmental review was mandated in order identify, avoid or mitigate any potential adverse environmental impacts prior to funding storm-related reconstruction.
While there were a number of geographic areas throughout New York State that were eligible for Sandy recovery funding, the south shore of Nassau and Suffolk Counties in Long Island as well as the coastal areas of New York, Kings, Queens and Richmond Counties were clearly the hardest hit areas. Based on damage assessments completed by FEMA, there were well in excess of 5,000 applications for assistance
in Nassau and Suffolk Counties alone. Processing the enormous volume of applications in a timely manner became “priority one” for the Governor’s office. The components of a complete application for funding include damage assessments by federal inspectors, estimated cost of repair, engineering inspections, and a comprehensive Federal/State environmental review in compliance with NEPA as well as SEQRA.
Enter DASNY………the Dormitory Authority State of New York. DASNY is the design-build Authority at the State level with the ability to “finance” projects as necessary. DASNY also maintains a “stable” of competitively procured, qualified engineering consultants on “standby,” ready to advance an assignment on behalf of the State on very short notice. D&B Engineers and Architects, P.C. (D&B) is currently one of DASNY’s approved environmental engineering consultants working under our 3rd consecutive 3+ year term contract.
In an effort to meet the State’s extremely aggressive schedule for completing the environmental reviews associated with each single and multi-family residential homeowner application for reconstruction funds, DASNY “tapped” D&B Engineers and Architects, P.C. for technical assistance in processing over 900 applications in a matter of 3+ weeks. Working 6-20 hours per day, 7 days a week D&B advanced the review process for each application by undertaking the required mapping and critical evaluations of a number of environmental, aesthetic and historic resources including:
• Historic Properties;
• Floodplain Management;
• Tidal and Freshwater Wetland Protection;
• Coastal Zone Management;
• Sole Source Aquifers;
• Endangered Species;
• Wild and Scenic Rivers;
• Air Quality;
• Farmlands Protection;
• Noise Abatement and Control;
• HUD Environmental Standards;
• Environmental Justice;
• Asbestos & Lead-Based Paint;
• Critical Environmental Areas;
• Open Spills;
• “Superfund”/Hazardous Waste Sites;
• Protected Waters; and
• Critical Habitats.
Given the very sophisticated level of available satellite imagery and detailed local records of environmentally sensitive areas and ecologically critical habitats, in combination with the use of ArcGIS Explorer Desktop, the custom mapping of each environmental, aesthetic and historic resource in support of documenting the critical evaluations for the Tier II Environmental Review Record Site-Specific Checklists proved to be extremely comprehensive and accurate.
Once the Tier II NEPA/SEQRA checklists were evaluated for each of the environmental criteria, it was signed by the first line review staff and then subjected to an extensive internal D&B Quality Assurance/ Quality Control program as a final check for accuracy and consistency prior to being delivered to DASNY. In all, over 900 site-specific Tier II Checklists were completed by D&B for the “New York Rising” program in record time, allowing homeowners to begin to see funds available for recovery/reconstruction for the 2013 Holiday Season.
D&B’s success with achieving the goals and objectives and aggressive schedule for processing and completing the Tier II Checklists as part of the initial DASNY support assignment lead to a significant increase in the scope and breadth of the assignment going forward. Beginning in the first quarter of 2014, D&B was requested by DASNY to dramatically increase its responsibility with respect to supporting the New York Rising Program. Again, working through DASNY, D&B was now not only responsible for conducting the comprehensive “desk top” federal/state environmental review and Tier II Checklists, but also a number of other components of the overall process. These included: database management, Senior Review, all coordination with HCR leading to the signing of the checklists, preparing all the associated files to accompany the Tier II Checklists and uploading the Tier II Checklists and Project Closeout documents to a specific FTP site so it can be “batch swept” into a national database, Intelligrants. Additionally, D&B is responsible for all data deliverables and the “metrics” that are reported to the Governor’s Office each Tuesday and Thursday. Lastly, D&B was requested to advance the Phase I/Phase II Environmental Assessment program in support of those affected properties associated with the “Acquisition/ Buy-Out” Program. Under this program, eligible homeowners may sell their property to New York State for either resale by the State in the future or demolition. The Acquisition/Buy-Out program also requires the completion of a modified Tier II Checklist.
Not unlike D&B’s incredibly responsive assault in bringing the New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s sewerage Pumping Stations back on line in the days immediately following Sandy’s destructive force, D&B, working through DASNY, supported Governor Cuomo’s “New York Rising” program’s equally aggressive mandates for completed sitespecific environmental reviews in a dedicated and focused manner.
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