Abandon our coast? Heaven — and HUD — forbid

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In Sandy’s wake, President Obama formed a Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, which is working with New York University’s Institute for Public Knowledge, the Municipal Art Society, the Regional Plan Association and the Van Alen Institute on Rebuild by Design, a competition among teams of the world’s leading architects, landscape architects and engineers to design coastal fortifications that can stop the sea –– or at least slow it down.

Ten proposals are under consideration for billions of dollars in federal and private funds, with work to begin this spring, according to Henk Ovink, the Netherlands’ director general of spatial planning and water affairs, who is advising U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan on Rebuild by Design, and who recently met with Herald editors and reporters to discuss the project.

No one design or designer can save our coast. “Collaboration is key if you want to build something that is going to last,” Ovink said.

If you visit rebuildbydesign.org, you will find brilliant designs. From my perspective, they are a start. Building resiliency into our coastline will require thousands of hard decisions –– to rebuild or to retreat –– over decades, perhaps centuries, and will likely cost tens of billions, if not hundreds of billions of dollars. The Dutch have worked to control the sea for 800 years, Ovink noted.

If, however, the climate scientists are right, we will have no choice.

Scott Brinton is senior editor of the Bellmore and Merrick Heralds and an adjunct professor at the Hofstra University Graduate Journalism Program. Comments? SBrinton@liherald.com or (516) 569-4000 ext. 203. Brinton’s profile and posts can be found at facebook.com/scottabrinton.

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