Land Given Back to Water
Scenario one, “Land Given Back to Water,” assumes a Rockaway Peninsula that is, by 2100, completely submerged below the sea level by 8 feet plus of sea level rise. By 2070, the current state of recognizable dry land of the Rockaway Peninsula will be below the water. The consequences of this drastic shift in geography will significantly alter how the diverse Rockaway communities live and work. From housing, economics and mobility, to the ecology and culture that exists, life will be different but not catastrophic--if planned for.
The Rockaway Peninsula is made up of diverse communities and a vibrant ecology. Both of these assets can and should persevere for generations to come despite the increasingly severe effects of climate change. This scenario is proposing proactive planning measures that are equitable and lead to successful outcomes, led by and for the local community. The anticipated natural evolution of this peninsula can work for the benefit of local residents, not the destruction. In this scenario, the Rockaway Peninsula is taken by the water, but with responsible planning and managed retreat, the residents and community connections will remain vibrant and whole.
Graphic by: Delaney Bianca Morris
Adequate, safe, and affordable housing will remain one of the most important considerations for Rockaway residents as they plan for the next generation. In the conceivable scenario where the Rockaway Peninsula is fully submerged below the water level by 2070, basic functions of the community--from infrastructure to housing--will no longer look the same as they do in 2021. Planning for housing in this scenario means identifying alternative, more resilient locations for community members to live on dry land, as well as supporting alternative water-based floating infrastructure for those that want to make that transition living on the water. But for the majority of residents that decide to organize retreat, supportive infrastructure, jobs and amenities will need to be transitioned and adapted with the replaced housing. And this process will need to be incremental, organized and initiated by the local community, to safely transition vulnerable residents to a more resilient and adaptive future.
The economic activity of this area will be completely shifted from a mix of land and water based industries to just the economics surrounding water. Future economic activities could include, but are not limited to: Aquaculture, sailing schools, wave based energy production, ferry routes, boat tours, and a marina perhaps. The economic activity of this area will be given first right of refusal to former community members and their local businesses who relocated as a result of this scenario coming to pass.
In a place that was home to thousands of [people there is inevitably going to be a loss of some community, culture, and memory. Our recommendation for this topic is for the community to begin preserving their memories of place by continuing to document everyday life in photos, videos, and audio files. In 2100 when the land is taken by the water a virtual reality gallery can be created to help memorialize the spaces and places most important to those that called it home. This area would become a living gallery where memories can be accessed and shared when visiting the once Rockaways by boat. By actively working to preserve this culture and this memory now for the future, people will begin to identify what truly is important to them and understand what they can and what they need to replicate for themselves elsewhere.
TRANSIT & MOBILITY
TRANSIT & MOBILITY
Transportation in the Rockaways will exist for primarily commuting and tourism purposes. Local transportation will be scaled down significantly, as the number of residents remaining to live on the water will be limited. But the Rockaway Peninsula will not be the only coastal community converted to a water-based landscape; in fact, across the coast, communities will be transitioning and transportation will have to support the mobility of this changing geography. The City/state will have to scale up and innovate its water-based transportation systems to accommodate coastal communities’ changing landscape and transportations needs.
When thinking about the future of this area when water takes over the land, we must be able to envision the ecosystems that will be lost and created by this strategy. The land ecosystems will dissolve, birds whose migration routes may have touched the shorelines will be lost, the marshland will become inundated by water and must have serious work done to build it up to be able to withstand the rising seas. Marshland specifically moves up and in, and with the city at it’s back the intentionality of building it up needs to be present