Friday, October 11, 2019

Dutch consultant files independent report on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project


[The Mayor’s Office of Recovery & Resiliency]

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera announced the publication yesterday of the final report by independent consultant Hans Gehrels of the Dutch environmental group Deltares. The two hired Gehrels for a review of the $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) last month.

Among the findings in the report:

• The need for improving transparency and stakeholder engagement
• Ongoing monitoring for air quality impacts to be made available publicly
• Release of City documents that provide evidence for the analysis underlying the Final Environmental Impact Statement
• Further investigation of Interim Flood Protection Measures during the construction period
• Phased construction for continued use of of portions of the park with additional open space mitigation
• Additional clean fill for future flood protection against sea level rise

For your weekend reading, you can find the full 68-page report at this link.

Stay tuned for more thoughts and analysis as people dig into the report.

Meanwhile...

"We heard the requests of the community for an independent review loud and clear, and we listened," Brewer said in a statement. "Deltares brought their vast experience and expertise to the analysis of this project, and I implore the de Blasio administration to take these suggestions into account before any construction begins."

And per Rivera: "I look forward to carefully reviewing this report and the recommendations from Deltares and hope the de Blasio administration will do the same as they work to address our other outstanding demands."

On Oct. 2, the de Blasio administration announced more changes to the city's stormproofing plans for East River Park. Instead of the entire Park shutting down for three-plus years starting in March, the flood protection construction will be done in phases, with all of East River Park remaining open until next fall.

The plan still faces a City Council vote as the land use review process winds down.

6 comments:

sophocles said...

I would not call this an "independent review" as Deltares did not conduct any "new or additional investigations" and they did not have access to the "underlying documents" of the Final Environmental Impact Statement. Reading this as a suspicious layman, they seem to have accepted the city's representations regarding the alternative plans (for example, they accept that the city's Preferred Alternative will be completed in 3.5 years), aired the concerns of various "stakeholders," and lightly raised their own concerns and recommendations (e.g, have an interim plan against there is a storm surge during construction, and conduct a hydraulic study to see if floodwater can enter the city north of 25th Street.) I don't see that this review validates or invalidates anything the city is doing.

Anonymous said...

Still a fucking nightmare to tear up every single mature large tree on the waterfront. They want to make this park like the “fake” park on the West Side - no soul, fake grass, virtually no mature or natural environment, parks cops everywhere. Fake, sleek BS. You don’t tear apart an environment to do this, you work around it.

cmarrtyy said...

The Dog'n Pony show continues. Ruin-the EV Rivera and Blowhard- Brewer asked Dr. Gehrels to critique the existing plan not to come up with an alternative... if one existed. Just a delaying tactic and a distraction from the real issue - the plan is expensive/unnecessary and probably not the best alternative for storm protection. But it is the best plan for the real estate industry. And it provides cover for Rivera and Brewer to vote for the plan. So we're back to square one. What's so sad about this issue is that Brewer and Rivera have betrayed their community in favor of the real estate industry and the Dem party. So what do we do? Where do we go for help? This is the sad truth of ONE PARTY RULE. Whether it's Repub or Dem ONE PARTY RULE is not democracy... it's treason!

Howard Brandstein said...

It was brought to the community's attention on October 4, AFTER the City Council hearing, that Deltares had earlier been awarded a contract to work on the city's $10 billion flood control project for the financial district in Manhattan: https://www.boweryboogie.com/2019/10/east-river-resiliency-timeline-is-changed-but-where-the-hell-is-the-deltares-report/ This was confirmed in a joint statement by Borough President Brewer and Council Member Rivera on October 7: https://www.manhattanbp.nyc.gov/joint-statement-by-borough-president-gale-a-brewer-and-city-council-member-carlina-rivera-on-the-lower-manhattan-coastal-resiliency-program-announced-by-the-edc/
This is a serious conflict of interest as Hans Gehrels who is the Market Team Manager for Deltares https://www.deltares.nl/en/experts/hans-gehrels-2/ also served as the “independent expert” hired by the Borough President and Council Member to evaluate the various plans developed by the City and community for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. Gehrels released his report (which was initially due before the City Planning Commission voted on the City’s “Preferred Alternative 4” plan- which they approved) this Thursday October 10. Gehrels finding which favored the City’s Preferred Alternative is a quid pro quo for the contract awarded to Deltares. It should also be noted that the City’s contract with Deltares was not disclosed by the City or elected officials present at the hearing before the City Council’s Subcommittee on Landmarks, Sitings and Dispositions on October 3. The integrity of this so-called “independent review" process has been totally corrupted. The community must demand that the hearings be reopened and that the Borough President and Council Member appoint a panel of truly independent experts to be given the opportunity to evaluate the various plans.

Amy Berkov said...

1) As others have noted, there is a problem with the independence of Deltares, given their previous association with NYC's resiliency project (granted, it might be hard to find a firm capable of evaluating the plan that is not already in contract with NYC). 2) Because these projects are so large and interdisciplinary, it would have been more convincing to see review not only by a hydrologist, but also by environmental scientists, a social scientist informed on environmental justice issues, and any other appropriate engineers. 3) It's not clear why Deltares was only charged with comparing EIS Alternatives 3 and 4, given that Alternative 3 was already so different from the RBD-community plan. 4) WHY WASN'T Deltares provided with the reports that might have enabled them to determine how these designs could differ in flood protection: East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, Coastal Hydraulics Report, Arcadis, 2015, and the City’s value engineering report??? This is INCOMPREHENSIBLE!!! 5) Although the Deltares report was basically a concise summary of information that the city provided in the EIS, it was reassuring to see that the evaluators agree that both alternatives were designed to protect against 2050s estimates of sea level rise only, and that "Elevating the park with an additional two feet in 2050 would require the removal of all biodiversity and fully-grown trees... From a technical perspective, the issue of replanting in 30 years would be an argument to raise the park an additional two feet in the current project, instead of postponing it to the future. Another argument would be the potential that sea levels are rising faster than previously predicted (as reported in the September 2019 IPCC report 6) and that additional elevation would likely be required at that time." It's not clear to me why any of the Alternatives could not be adapted to protect through 2100, rather than the 2050s. It doesn't make sense to invest $1.45 B in a plan that will only offer flood protection, and a usable park, for a couple of decades.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have Cuomo's phone number? We need to get him to stand up for East River Park and the East Village and Lower East Side Communities.