PEF member Jennifer Street, DOS Coastal Resource Specialists
Story and photo By DEBORAH A. MILES
Waterfronts are the locus of a city’s charm, the seam between land and water. They are places where people gather to enjoy the sun glimmering on the ocean’s waves, or to dine at the water’s edge as the sun sets. It is where public life and commerce hold hands. It is a special place where a city or town reinvents old weather-beaten piers to shape a new identity.
The reinventing part is a behind-the-scenes job, and one in which PEF member Jennifer Street plays a significant role. This coastal resources specialist at the New York Department of State has left her fingerprints on numerous waterfront projects during the last decade.
“My job is very fulfilling and diverse. Our unit works very closely with communities to basically develop plans and documents for the management of their waterfront areas. The coastal area of the state includes the Great Lakes, Sr. Lawrence River, Hudson River up to the Troy Lock and Dam and all lands adjacent to tidal waters in New York City and Long Island,” Street said. “There is so much variation in activities throughout the state, we have to learn something new everyday in order to keep up the pace.”
Street works in tandem with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Office of General Services Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on projects such as managing erosion with sand replenishment or beach nourishment, as a wider beach can reduce storm damage to coastal structures. She offers input into designs that have ranged from the high-water event at Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River in 2017, to the ongoing coastal storm recovery projects that resulted from the massive damage Super Storm Sandy delivered in 2012.
Street’s position is the result of the 1972 Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) when Congress recognized the need to “preserve, protect, develop and where possible, to restore or enhance the resources of the nation’s coastal zone.”
New York was one of the states that elected to develop a Coastal Management Program as allowed by the CZMA, which is administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“The Coastal Management Program in New York was developed in response to CZMA. It is federally funded through a grant. The state approached all the municipalities that border on water to create their own waterfront programs. Our office also gives monies to these municipalities, so they can designate areas for development or preservation. Basically, it is planning for the overall waterfront of the state,” Street said.
“When the federal government proposes any type of project in the coastal area through our program, the local municipalities with waterfront programs have input, and that’s really nice. It gives the municipality a voice in the grander scale of things.”
One example is the city of Buffalo which has been working on a local waterfront revitalization program that addresses the area bordering Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Buffalo River and Scajaquada Creek. The plan aims to promote the city as an international gateway by improving major ports, and adding marinas and public waterfront access points, while being environmentally sound.
Street said once Buffalo’s program is finalized and approved by NOAA, monies from the Coastal Management Program’s office will be available to complete specific projects.
“I will become involved with the Buffalo program once the projects start moving forward. I will review them to ensure they meet state and local management goals.
“I have participated in reviews from aqua-culture activities to docks to open-water dredged material disposal. My co-workers are working on a fish farm that has been proposed off the shore of Long Island. We’re also involved with off-shore wind development or power plants along the Hudson River.
“There is a lot of planning in what I do, but it is all extremely rewarding.”