Staten Island, NY – From 1990-2010, Staten Island went through a major makeover, attracting more and more people to the island to live out the quiet, suburban lifestyle. What was once a beach town nicknamed “the Staten Island dump”—it’s exactly how it sounds—the ever growing changes to the borough made it grow in popularity.
However great those changes were, they brought in more problems to the island. With the development of more buildings, more of Staten Island’s wildlife and nature was torn down and is continuing to be torn down. One example of this happening right now is n the Graniteville neighborhood. Where wetlands once stood, a BJ’s Wholesale Club is soon to take its place. According to residents, flooding has been out of control since the destruction of the wetlands. Despite protests and a poll collected, construction continued anyway.
Gabriella Velardi-Ward, the leader of the Staten Island Coalition of Wetlands and Forests, spoke up about the lack of action politicians are taking to save the wetlands from destruction. “Sea level rise, torrential rainstorm — this is not the end, this is the beginning,” Velardi-Ward said.
“Our flooding is going to get worse and worse, and there is no way out of this. This is insanity. It’s insane to destroy 18 acres of forested wetlands,” Verlardi-Ward told SILive.com.
This isn’t the first time this has happened either. Developments of warehouses for Amazon and Ikea have also affected the lands as well. According to Carl Alderson, a former Staten Islander and the Mid-Atlantic restoration coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Associations’ Fisheries’ Habitat Restoration Center, developments such as these have deeply impacted the natural environmental balance which lower the impact of storms.
Despite multiple concerns for the developments back in 2017, the New York City Council still decided to continue with the construction. In October 2019, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) approved the needed permits. Despite the thousands of letters the DEC received from Staten Island residents requesting a hearing, one was not granted.
State Senator Diane Savino, said in a written statement that she agreed with the DEC’s reasonings to continue on with the projects. “I met with the coalition early on, and have been supportive of their efforts. I asked DEC from the beginning to review and DEC could not find a reason to stop the project. Their issue is with local elected city officials who supported, championed and shepherded this project through.”