Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Storm center: Questions linger over updated plans for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project



The folks at LUNGS (Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens) are spreading the word — as seen in the holiday-themed flyers above — about the city's new plans to storm-proof East River Park.

Details emerged earlier this fall (city press release here) about the updated construction phase to protect the East Side against catastrophic flooding along the East River from Montgomery Street to 25th Street. (Most of the changes occur between Cherry Street and 13th Street.)

As reported in October, the-now $1.45 billion project raises East River Park by up to 10 feet when work starts in March 2020. To do this, though, the city will need to close East River Park for up to three and a half years, bulldozing all the current amenities, including the new running track and soccer field.

The previous storm-proofing as part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Plan would have required closing a lane of the FDR and working around Con Edison power lines. However, city officials have said that building out the flood protection and reconstructing the park on top would eliminate these issues as well as speed up the construction process by one hurricane season.

The city's two public meetings earlier this month on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project apparently didn't do much to educate the public on its revised plans or provide adequate time for feedback.

Per the LUNGS website:

Very complicated plans were presented for 45 minutes and the public was asked to respond for 30 minutes and fill out stick ’ems to be put on printed drafts and proposed construction diagrams. That was the extent of the public involvement. There has been no transparency in this process.

The Villager and Town & Village have recaps from these meetings.

Per The Villager:

[I]t took the city four years to realize the pitfalls of the previous plan, to the chagrin of locals and Downtown politicians, who have several unanswered questions.

“Part of the problem is the city can’t answer basic questions about why this is necessary and what range of options they’ve considered to protect this community for resiliency,” said state Senator Brian Kavanagh. Kavanagh sent a joint letter with nine other Manhattan pols to the Mayor’s Office last week outlining their concerns.

“On some level, the proposal here today is to destroy this park in order to save it,” Kavanagh said. “And if we could be persuaded that this is the only way to protect the community from catastrophic storms, that would be a good start to this conversation, but unfortunately this city, after many years of planning, decided without consultation to scrap the original plan and announce an entirely new plan.”

At the meetings, the city released new design renderings of the revised resiliency plan. (You can find the 57-page PDF of the new plan at this link.)

Here is a rendering showing the finalized area around Delancey, including a new pedestrian overpass...



... and a look at areas between Sixth Street and 10th Street...



According to The Villager, the new resiliency plan could begins its months-long Uniform Land Use Review Procedure as early as this coming spring ... with construction starting in March 2020 and lasting through the fall of 2023.

On the flyers posted at neighborhood community gardens, LUNGS is encouraging residents to submit feedback on the new plan. You may submit comments to the city via this link. LUNGS has more ways for residents to get involved at this link.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Report: The reality of storm-proofing East River Park in 2020

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Watch out, they will come in asap and cut all the trees without warning - someone is going to make a lot of money on this and they will not allow it to be stopped. The irony, is it won't even work in a real storm.

John M said...

The reasons for finally leaving New York, especially the Lower East Side, just keep piling up and up. This plan is insane, and very Bloombergian in its complete disconnect with the people it will most affect.

What a poorly run city.

Giovanni said...

There was a great documentary on PBS called Sinking Cities: New York which had several climate scientists and engineers saying that this plan to protect lower Manhattan, called the Big U, probably won’t work either. They say you can’t just hide New York behind what will essentially be a giant prison wall. Watch the episode starting around minute 28 to see an informed discussion is to why this is a bad plan. As one expert says, no matter what we do, the water is going to go somewhere.

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/peril-and-promise/video/sinking-cities-new-york/

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reporting on this. I attended the meeting and was dismayed at how completely disconnected the presenters seemed from the needs of the community. When asked where all the people, including children and school teams, who depend on the park for exercise, games, recreation and relaxation, are supposed to go in the meantime, they answered vaguely about undefined "alternate" spaces (at one point, the Parks dude even said something like "it was up to us" WTF?). Also one surprise was the planned reconstructon of part of Corlears Hook Park, the only other green space of any size in the area, taking it out as a possible alternate park. Then half of Tompkins Square Park is being renovated, and Two Bridges, and so on--it's an extreme amount of environmental pressure to be put on one area simultaneously. And yes, tearing out all the beautiful mature trees and native plantings lovingly maintained by Lower East Side Ecology Center volunteers is beyond tragic on every level (and I can only imagine how terrible the air quality is going to become with increased traffic over the Williamsburg Bridge due to L train shutdown plus major construction and pile driving associated with this asinine project--of course, the presenters didn't promise any sort of air quality monitoring or amelioration...)

Anonymous said...

I also wonder if this plan is sound, seems like water will find a course around a barricade. Have the Dutch been consulted in making this plan? Seriously, they have a whole city of Amsterdam below sea level that is cautiously and continually maintained. Seems like the money would be better spent protecting train and traffic tunnels. More and more I see what looks like unnecessary or long delayed construction and I wonder if there isn't some kind of corruption behind all the spending.

Anonymous said...

Why does it all have to be athletics fields? Why can't there be more space in the park as, you know, "park"? With space and trees and grass and places to stroll and sit except for the narrow strip by the water.

Anonymous said...

If they want to build a 16 foot wall to prevent flooding, why not just put one on either the waterfront side, or better yet, on the FDR side so the traffic noise and car emmisions don't carry over to the park? Why rebuild a whole park if you're just worried about a barrier of 16 feet?

Anonymous said...

There is a federal deadline to rake in the dollars and line pockets!!!

Anonymous said...

Like Cuomo's Amazon tax-payer funded giveaway - true fascism in action.

Anonymous said...

To me, this "finish the park, then bulldoze it and begin again" situation reeks of corruption, b/c there is no other reasonable explanation for it. And you KNOW the people who are raking in the $$$ on this don't live anywhere nearby, so they don't care how much we are affected, nor for how many years. (I obviously don't believe the stated completion date either.)

Anonymous said...

Given potential flooding there are no good ideas and this is near the bottom of that barrel. That the FDR is sacred in any scheme is expected but disgusting. In the event of a surge the water will go somewhere, further upriver? Brooklyn?. And this does nothing to address ground water levels, though no other plans that I've heard about have any solutions there.

Like the L shutdown a bad idea is not countered by no other better ideas. However, unlike the L shutdown, this doesn't have to happen now. Yes it's a roll of the dice when the Atlantic will push the East River down Avenue C again. But one of the huge problems with the flood was the Con Ed substation. Con Ed, however, is more powerful than any political entity so they get ignored.

As usual a standard case of money on the table that if left unspent doesn't go on resumes in the future. So doing nothing except making a serious utilities based flood plan, probably the best option right now, is too cheap to be considered.

What's the over/under on when this will finish? 2030?

cmarrtyy said...

Part of the problem of the Ev is that we don'y have pols smart enough... nor independent enough to lead us through this and any other dire situation. If this were to happen in another council district... holy hell would be raided. The elected officials would ask the right questions and demand the right answers. And more than likely there would be compromise or the project would be changed. But with our reps... there is only silence WHERE IS RIVERA? GLICK? HOYLMAN? WHY AREN'T NAY OF YOU LEADING THE COMMUNITY?! Well, did you expect an answer. ONE PARTY RULE. ONE PARTY RULE.

Anonymous said...

Thank you EVG for keeping up with this issue. I spoke to the Parks Dept and NYCDDC, and as others have said their attitude was basically “Yeah it’s sad but we can’t think of anything better and the Mayor is pressuring us.” I plan to collaborate with LUNGS and anyone else who’s interested. The mayor thinks this will help him build a national presence and it’s up to us to make it clear that it’s not going to make him look good. Please consider joining the resistance.

Anonymous said...

Carlina Rivera has published a statement against this. I’ve been in touch with her office and they have promised to put me in touch with people there to follow up on response and action. Please contact them and speak out.

Raymond Saint-Pierre said...

As a previous comment asserted, this won't work!There's no way to keep water out! There are historical reasons for the streets named Canal, Water, Spring! Between ground water, artesian sources,and the entire estuary;there is no way to waterproof NYC!

Giovanni said...

The Big U plan to surround Lower Manhattan with a wall will only result in more flooding in places like Brooklyn and Hoboken, which already has major flooding problems. The new apartment towers near Domino Park had better be flood proof, and the older housing stock and commercial property near the waterfront will be more likely to be wiped out anyway. We will now enter a race between the New York Boroughs and New Jersey waterfront cities to see who can build the highest water barriers, because the water has to go somewhere. It would be ironinic if all that water just went straight up the East River and spilled into Waterside Plaza and Midtown South, with water then flooding Lower Manhattan again via the scenic route. I suppose if this happens then those trees in East RiverPark are doomed anyway, but its a shame to spend all this money to destroy what we might be able to enjoy for a couple more decades.

Anonymous said...

This is the stupidest, fucking idea this city has had in decades. Why? What a waste of money and energy.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how people forgot what happened in 2012 and with the seas rising it is going to get worse. You are worried about the loss of trees for 3 years but not the prospects of another flood.

If this doesn't get done and there is another flood, then the residents and LUNGS will be to blame for all the damage.

Anonymous said...

I was also going to mention Sinking Cities. Check out the other episodes about London, Tokyo, and Miami as well to see how those cities are planning to address sea level rise and increasingly intense storms.