Photo: James Willamor/Flickr
By 2040, the New York City’s population is projected to reach over 9 million, growing by 783,000 residents over the 30 year period.
Within that 30 year period, Brooklyn’s population will grow by 11.3 percent to 2,841,000, up from 2,553,000 in 2010. While it’s not the largest percentage increase of the five boroughs — that will be The Bronx at 14 percent growth — it is the largest by total number of new residents at 288,000.
These level of population growth, outlined in a city document published in December 2013, mean new challenges for the city’s most populous borough. We’ve outlined four of the major challenges below:
Maintaining and expanding infrastructure
More people means more pressure and reliance on city water, sewer and gas lines.
Most homeowners are not aware they are responsible for costs associated with repairing damaged water and sewer lines that run from their building’s exterior to municipal service lines. Brooklyn residents are particularly at risk because of the borough’s high population of single family homes. One way the City hopes to protect its residents is with the Water and Sewer Service Line Protection Program, which insulates homeowners from unexpected costs of service line repairs.
Improvements will also be under way for area gas lines. NYC’s gas lines are 56 years old on average, compared to 44 years old nationally. Leaks are most common in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx, currently, but Brooklyn is also at risk. The Center for an Urban Future reported that almost half of the gas mains serviced by Brooklyn’s National Grid were made of leak-prone cast iron and an alloy called “unprotected steel.”
The public transportation system will need upgrades. Besides plans to fix the L train’s overcrowding with a years-long construction project, Mayor de Blasio recently introduced a plan for a streetcar line connecting Brooklyn and Queens. The 16-mile waterfront line would help ease increasing pressure on subway and bus service.
Addressing energy efficiency and guarding against climate change
One New York, the Mayor’s long term plan for sustainability and resiliency, has already made progress toward creating the City’s cleanest air in 50 years, adding to the city’s urban canopy, and aggressively reducing carbon emissions.
In Brooklyn, residents can expect a further push for reflective rooftops, which help with heating and cooling cost and impact. Citywide, 6 million square feet have already been added. Through the NYC °CoolRoofs program, New Yorkers will be able to receive discounts from coating vendors and manufacturers.
Builders will also see upgraded building codes to prepare for extreme weather events, and Brooklyn will experience a dramatic expansion in flood zone areas, primarily for its waterfront communities.
Protecting and prioritizing public space
Officials are working to balance city growth with a commitment to public, open space through its parks and private partnerships.
New York City has already traded 20 million square feet of zoning concessions for 80 acres of privately-owned public space. Downtown Brooklyn hosts a few such spaces, which will be maintained in coming years, but Brooklyn is home to less than five percent of the city’s privately-owned public spaces. As the population grows, parks and plazas will become increasingly important to quality of life.
Providing for a growing school-age population
Experts predict a “baby boom echo” as large cohorts of women born in the 1980s and 1990s enter their peak reproductive years. This will be especially true for Brooklyn where more couples are settling.
Brooklyn already tops New York’s school-age population, and that trend will continue. By 2030, Brooklyn is expected to have over 450,000 school-age children, up from about 425,000 at present.
The risk of overcrowding is high, with 500,000 New York City students already enrolled in overcrowded schools. The mayor has a plan over the next five years to provide 50,000 seats to meet current and projected enrollment.
Other methods will include rezoning to shift enrollment and creation of specialized new programs, like gifted and talented classes, in under-utilized buildings.