Monday, October 29, 2018

Report: The reality of storm-proofing East River Park in 2020



Details about what will happen during the construction phase of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) are becoming known... and people don't seem too thrilled about what will be happening.

The ESCR proposal has been in the works for several years post Sandy. It aims to protect against catastrophic flooding by building a "resilient park" along the East River from Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side to 13th Street, as Curbed reported last month.

The city plans to "lift" East River Park by up to 10 feet when work starts in March 2020. However, to do this, the city will need to close East River Park for up to three and a half years, bulldozing all the current amenities, including the just-unveiled new running track and soccer field.


[EVG photo from last month]

Per the Post yesterday:

The newly revised design will elevate the surface of the 40-acre park between the East River and FDR Drive by dumping tons of soil and fill between 13th and Cherry streets, raise and rebuild the esplanade along the river by boosting the height of the pilings underneath, and erect a flood wall at the river’s edge.

At the height of superstorm Sandy, Lower Manhattan was plunged into darkness and the Con Edison substation on East 13th Street was flooded, sparking a transformer explosion that knocked out part of the island’s grid.

The new plan would protect against such catastrophic flooding.

But the collateral damage is the park and its baseball, football, soccer, basketball, tennis and track facilities, which will be bulldozed and covered, with fill, said a Department of Design and Construction official.

The Post spoke with several Park-goers who were incredulous over the closures, especially having to essentially destroy the new $2.8 million running track and soccer field. (An EVG reader who shared the Post story via email wrote that "this is going to be a huge disruption, logistical nightmare" ... "but perhaps very neccessary.")

Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver told the Post that the agency is brainstorming ideas to bring recreational alternatives to East River Park users.

"We have from now until March 2020," he said. "We are looking at city-owned spaces, parks as options for recreation during construction."

24 comments:

Scuba Diva said...

It's about as necessary as getting a manicure before you get on the Challenger.

Anonymous said...

People will never be happy no matter what you do. They will bitch and moan that the amenities will be closed for three years and if you don't close them to prevent flooding they will bitch and moan why you didn't do anything the next time the city gets flooded. It's always a no-win situation.

Neighbor said...

Maybe they can move the park to East 10th street and displace the garbage trucks...

Unknown said...

I was surprised that the city suddenly chose this solution. When the public consultations were held the options were 1) a berm near the FDR drive or 2) a wall, with deployable elements, along FDR drive. There was no mention of the idea to raise the entire park. And then suddenly the city picks it and sets a timeline without additional consultation. We don't even get details, like whether or not they're building that flyover bridge around 14th Street or whether the bandshell will be saved. This latest plan may be the best approach, but it certainly made a mockery of public consultation.

Anonymous said...

Wait what? This is idiotic. Obviously the coastal protections are necessary but why did we just spend all that money on a new track that's going to be torn up two years later?

Anonymous said...

This is asinine. DeBlasio must be living on another planet. What a waste of tax payers money and time.

Anonymous said...

This is a complete turn around. Why are official so afraid to shut down -- or dismantle -- the FDR and make that one long berm?

Oh, yes, we do not want to impede traffic, let along shut the drive down for three years. Oh no, let's close the entire park instead.



Anonymous said...

This is not what they spent years promoting! This is outrageous. And no public hearing on this massive change?

For three years, the Mayor's Office of Resiliency had been asking for feedback from the community. That all now seems to be up in smoke.

Anonymous said...

De Blasio is a moron. What the fuck he is smoking?

Giovanni said...

This is another bait and switch job by DeBlasio, probably driven by real estate developers who suddenly realized all their nice new condo towers on the Houston St. Horridor, the LES and EV will be worthless if the originally planned berm fails during a major storm. How else can you explain shutting such an important park down for almost 4 years? This work should not be done all at once because some major issue will no doubt crop up, delaying the re-opening of the park by one or more years, which mans we are looking at 2025 or beyond for a completion date. The new track was just built, costing millions. which indicates this was a last minute idea cooked up by someone with a agenda, rather than a well thought out plan.

This plan is beyond disruptive to people in this neighborhood. What happens to the new ferry terminals they just opened this summer? I guess the Dog Parade gets moved back to Tompkins Square Park, maybe those organizers are behind this. (Just kidding! But I wouldn’t put it past them.). Little league baseball and school football and soccer teams will have to go elsewhere. The Fourth of July Fireworks no doubt get moved back to the West Side now. Endless barbecues, Quinceañeras, birthday parties, and the summer concerts in the bandshell will also be gone for years.

And worst of all, they will have to cut down all those trees, which took more than 50 years to grow. While the West Side has much nicer river parks than the East Side, the one thing they do not have that we do is nice big trees, Most of the trees beyond the older parts of Battery Park City, which is now almost 40 years old, are small and scrawny, while ours are tall, lush and full. Ypu can barely find shade over there in the summer unless you duck behind a building. That’s what makes Central Park so great, the amazing landscapes and shady areas created by the trees, and it’s what makes the newer West Side parkland feel so barren by comparison. The berm plan did not involved destroying decades old trees, but this new plan will wipe them out, leaving us with a barren looking park for decades to come.

Wait until they finish this project in 2027 and we find out they needed to build it 20 feet taller due to rapid sea rise, and that actually no amount of money will be able to save Manhattan or any coastal area over the next few decades. A blue wave is coming, and it has nothing to do with the election.

cmarrtyy said...

Not to be tooooo cynical... but this might be the best plan for all the luxury housing that will be built in the future. I's always about real estate,... wth Mayor Bill.

sophocles said...

I hope that the New York Times assigns a few investigative reporters to unearth the reasons for this plan.

Anonymous said...

My place on 11th Street was underwater during Sandy, so of course I would like to see some sort of flood barrier put in place. But I question the wisdom of this plan. They're talking about building to 13th Street -- but I was there during Sandy and the flood actually come down Avenue C from 20th Street. Are there any qualified engineers even looking at this? Are there any qualified civil engineers at all?

noble neolani said...

A wall of super luxury towers which will act as sea wall instead of a park with is open for all people no matter how much or little money they have. We can then rename this new city "De Blasio Tower Park".

There is definitely a con going on here. This proposal is comparative to building the Hoover Damn, a huge engineering feet which will cost much more than damage 5 Sandys would cost and that was a rate event.

Anonymous said...

@5:04pm: I'm sure there are plenty of qualified engineers BUT I'm also sure none of them are involved in this mess.

This reeks of De Blasio incompetence in every way. And it's OUR tax $$$ that's being wasted by creating a park that they're going to bulldoze. Maybe we should find a way to hold De Blasio's beloved Park Slope YMCA building hostage until he sorts this mess out...

@2:16pm: You're right about the mature trees being wonderful, and for all the money that's being wasted to build and then bulldoze park facilities, they might as well spend money to have those mature trees REMOVED & MAINTAINED by the kind of companies that I know exist - the companies that sell mature trees to zillionaires to "instantly" landscape their yards to look like the trees have been there forever. THOSE companies could hold the park trees and RE-PLANT them in the park when (if ever) the park is finished again. IT CAN BE DONE, but someone in authority would have to have the brains & willingness to make it happen.

JQ LLC said...

This sounds like a combination of mayoral and city planning incompetence AND classic tweeding.

What's ridiculous is that de Faustio and all his minions responsible for this sudden build up is that he and they are suppose to be so progressive and aware of climate change, especially since this stupid mayor tried to sue energy companies months ago. Which makes the renovation and the recent reopening of the park absolutely senseless, knowing full well what Sandy did to east side just 6 years ago.

But hey, the state waited 6 years to finally repair the canarsie tunnel too.

This is kind of like whats going on with the plan to close Rikers. The city (and obviously real estate developers) wants to build borough jails integrated with residential towers and restaurants and stores yet they are still going spend 50 million to renovate the jails there.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-metro-rikers-ada-costs-20181019-story.html

Anonymous said...

I am at a loss for words. De Blasio is a lousy mayor with self interests of his own. I deeply regret voting for this man. He is slowly ruining our beloved city. This is one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard. He wants to dismantle the entire East Side River Park. This will cost hundreds of millions of tax payers dollars and will take almost a decade for it to be complete. What a waste. Instead of using that money, why not invest it in our failing subway system? Oh, right, that is corrupt too.

Atomic Man said...

This is just nuts. Why not put a wall or a berm along the western edge of the park, next to the FDR? That would block the noise and ugliness of the highway, and still protect the roadway and residential buildings on the other side. Park itself could get storm damage, but that's not such a difficult cleanup.

Anonymous said...

Atomic Man : 7:00

That is an awesome idea. Very clever. And it won't cost as much as the proposed plan.

I am so fed up with this mayor. He is a major disappointment. Pathetic actually.

What would prompt him to do such a thing? If he does this, it will ruin the look of our gorgeous park, which already cost millions of dollars years ago. He has no business in office if he can't be objective and diplomatic. I use this path to run and take long walks when the sun sets. Its a beautiful stretch of land. If this gets approved, I will protest, write letters, and start a petition so this oblivious moron doesn't get his way. Listen to the people who live in this city and neighborhood!

Giovanni said...

I think people here are onto the real issue here, and its our boneheaded Mayor. He keeps making these big decisions behind closed doors which is the opposite of what he said he would do when he first ran for Mayor, which was to build affordable housing and be sensitive to each community.

Instead we have garbage trucks on the street because of the secret deal that closed down the Sanitation garage uptown, and never had a plan for what to do with the trucks parked on the west side once they lost their lease.

He tried to put a replacement Sanation garage on a highly trafficked street near Waterside Plaza, right between the VA and Bellevue Hospitals, Who puts a Sanitation garage right next to two major hospitals? Plus there are hundreds of students from the United National International School and The British American School who walk by there every day,

NYCHA projects are falling apart, walls are crumbling, the affordable housing stock has been neglected. The city finally put in some new boilers; lets hope people have heat this winter, because many did not have heat last winter, Now we are getting up to a dozen subway stations at a time closed for 6 months for cosmetic changes, just so they can put up new tiles, clocks and lighting, but the stations still flood (many of them have flooded a few days after reopening), the trains are late and still break down, and there are still not enough elevators.

These are great and exciting challenges for a progressive Mayor who promised to make things better for average people but every time I see DeBlasio he looks disengaged, overwhelmed, or like he just woke up.

Now we have another huge project, announced at the last minute, which shuts down a major park for half a decade, What happened? It sounds like Mayor is once again serving the needs of the rich and powerful over everyone else. Between the Houston Street Horridor, the 14th St. developments (including StuyTown, now owned by Blackstone), the new Essex Crossing on Delacey Street, the Two Bridges projects with at least four towers that are 80 stories tall, there is some major new real estate that will be hard to sell if another big flood comes along.

When Bloomberg was Mayor, he pushed for and bragged about these kinds of projects, and he was transparent about his focus on new development. And I doubt he would have spent the money on renovating a park he was about to bury under 10 feet of soil. But with DeBlasio, everything seems to be happening in the dark, announced after the fact, as if he doesn’t want his fingerprints on any of it. If DeBlasio wants this done, he has to at least be honest about it and explain why the plans have radically changed, Otherwise, he will likely meet more opposition than he has ever seen before.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the government knows something that the public doesn't about sea levels.

Anonymous said...

I was just going to post something about De Blasio. Low and behold, others like myself have expressed dismay and disappointment in their comments about him. He is an awful and disengaged mayor. And he is slowly dismantling our neighborhoods. And why can't he do something about the sanitation trucks on East 10th? A total joke if this park renovation happens. A shit show for a decade at least.

OlympiasEpiriot said...

I dimly recall seeing an architectural rendering of raising the park in a throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks session put on by the Mayor's office and AIA shortly after Sandy. But, then, I never heard it mentioned again, and I've been at several events where these possibilities got discussed.

This seems to be the least cost-effective solution, not to mention, do we really want to start constructing what would essentially be levees here?

I'm pretty sure that given a couple more decades, we're going to be like Venice at the edges of the city. Note that is where almost all our wastewater treatment plants and power plants are. Even if a building is on higher ground, the city will be uninhabitable if we don't have functioning, reliable WWTPs and power.

Anonymous said...

PBS just had a 1 hour show on NYC and this plan on the 4 part series 'sinking cities', there was a lot of doubt about its feasibility, ie in the end it a dike, and if water gets in anywhere it will flood the entire area. This is ludicrous!