Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Mayor's new East River Park flood plan faces City Council scrutiny



On Jan. 23, City Council is holding a hearing with de Blasio administration officials about the updated East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. (Find the agenda item at this link.)

As you know, the Mayor's office announced a new vision for the long-delayed revamp to stormproof East River Park back in the fall. The updated plan is radically different than what had been discussed, and its expected cost will increase from $760 million to $1.45 billion, while closing and gutting the current East River Park for up to three and a half years. (The city's new design renderings are at this link.)

City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, whose district is most impacted by the new plans, announced the joint hearing of the City Council’s Committees on Parks and Environmental Protection yesterday.

Here's part of her statement:

"This hearing will finally give the Council and our community the chance to hear directly from the Mayor’s team and relevant agency commissioners regarding the recent changes to this monumental coastal protection project. Even with multiple community briefings and meetings with elected officials, we still do not have important details about this project, and I expect the Mayor’s team to come well prepared and help us understand the need for these drastic changes.

This new plan represents a fundamental departure from anything the City has previously discussed and would reportedly bring the projected cost of the project to $1.45 billion. The Mayor’s Office has failed to provide detailed analyses for explaining why this $700 million increase is necessary.

In addition, this new plan would require the closure of East River Park, the only real green space for tens of thousands of NYCHA residents and community members on the Lower East Side, for three years. Officials have not explained in any way how they will provide alternate outdoor space for this community, which has one of the highest asthma rates in the city.

We want a resilient city, and we will use this hearing to ensure that this project and others like it throughout the city can actually accomplish our progressive environmental goals."

The previous stormproofing 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 would eliminate these FDR traffic issues as well as speed up the construction process by one hurricane season.

In addition, the most recent version of the plan would transform the East River Park into a "world-class park" with a variety of courts for tennis and basketball and (fields for soccer) — all protected from storms and sea-level rise.

Meanwhile, tomorrow night, CB3's Parks, Recreation, Waterfront, & Resiliency Committee will hear updates on the East Side Coastal Resiliency project. The committee meeting starts at 6:30. Location: BRC Senior Services Center, 30 Delancey St. between Chrystie and Forsyth.


[Proposed schedule via the city. Click to go big.]

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

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

11 comments:

Choresh Wald said...

As suspected: one of the reasons the mayors office put out the new plan is to avoid traffic disruptions on the FDR drive. The high rates of Asthma NYCHA residents have are because of the air pollution created by vehicles drivers use on the FDR drive. The drive is for passenger cars only and is not essential to the city. Eliminate half of it, move it to the ground, same way it was done on the west side. Carlina Rivera, please advocate for your constituents and demand the city administration to change its' priorities: stop catering to people who wants a highway to drive to their gym at the cost of tens of thousands of other people who suffer from air and noise pollution 24/7.

noble neolani said...

The one part of this plan that is most revealing is the goal of converting our park to a "world-class park". I don't think any of the tens of thousands of people who live by and use this park have ever asked a "world-class park".

However developers in the near future will use this tax payer provided park as an amenity to the many luxury towers which in the coming years will replace the intentionally bankrupt city housing.

This plan coming from any other mayor would just seem foolish but from De Blasio it all seems like a gift not the people of the lower east side but those living in future luxury housing.

Giovanni said...

The Highline was probably the worst thing that ever happened to west Chelsea, as it attracted tons of luxury development and tourists, raised rents and lead to the demise of the art gallery scene, along with many of the longtime bars and restaurants. This park could end up doing the same.

As unsightly as all those chainlink fences in East River Park are, they have saved many people from getting ht with a baseball, football, tennis ball or soccerball every time one goes flying towards the East River. How many people will get hit in the head by one of these flying missles, and how many balls will be lost in the river once they eliminate all the fences? If the architects don’t even understand how people use this park, or basic safety needs, and are just designing it to look “world class”, then it’s obvious that the real point of the redesign is to attract more condo development.

cmarrtyy said...

I always thought they should have called in the Dutch to figure out the water problem. They've been very good at it for thousands of years. But then again, I'm not a real estate developer waiting for another prime location to develop.

sophocles said...

I've been to the Highline twice. The first time it still had an escape from the street, retreat quality to it. By my second visit it was the iconic touristic sprouted thoroughfare that we all know and love...

Giovanni said...

It’s not really the Highline unless you have to climb up steel girder, then climb on top of a parked truck, and then pull yourself up and onto the abandoned railroad tracks where you are all alone for as far as the eye can see in both directions. It was a magical 🧙‍♂️ place to be.

afbp said...

the horse has left the barn.....

noble neolani said...

speaking of going off the rails,,, thought we were taking about the East River Park? One more prediction, a rebranding of that park, something that appeals to movers and shakers.

Anonymous said...

A "world class park" sounds terrible. It will never be the same if they get rid of those gorgeous old trees. Anyway, the park is great as it is, retaining its scruffy glory. I say this as someone who was mugged over there once!!

noble neolani said...

Perhaps luxury kiosk will open there when the Mayor's vision is complete, Louis Vuitton running shoes, Prada sandals and Chanel sunscreen.

Anonymous said...

So, basically, it's another mis-use of public funds (OUR money taken out of OUR pockets) to make the area more developer-friendly, and push us out. That's EVERYTHING that's wrong with this city in one sentence.