Yesterday came news that the de Blasio administration was announcing more changes to the city's stormproofing plans for East River Park.
As you know, the entire Park was set to be shuttered for three-plus years starting in March. Now, early East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) work will commence in the spring, with all of East River Park remaining open until next fall. The flood protection construction will be done in phases.
Here's more via a city press release issued yesterday:
“The community spoke and we listened,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Nearly half of East River Park will remain open throughout construction – without compromising essential flood protections for 110,000 New Yorkers. We are building a more resilient city to meet the challenge of global warming head-on.”
The phasing plan will allow nearly half of East River Park to stay open at all times and will still deliver flood protection by hurricane season 2023, one full hurricane season earlier than under the previous project approach.
In order to enable the new park phasing plan, the schedule for completion of the overall project will be extended to the end of 2025, without any delay in delivering critical flood protection to the 110,000 local residents vulnerable to severe climate impacts in the future. Construction is scheduled to begin in March 2020.
First Phase of Construction (Fall 2020 to Spring 2023): The vast majority of the park areas from Delancey to Houston Streets will remain open as well as the amphitheater area in the south and the portion from approximately East 10th to East 12th Street in the north.
Second Phase of Construction (Spring 2023 to Late 2025): Newly rebuilt portions of East River Park will be open from Houston Street to approximately East 10th Street, as well as the vast majority of the park areas from Corlears Hook Bridge to Delancey Street.
Esplanade areas will follow a separate construction schedule and will be made available as construction permits. To meet the needs of area residents, in addition to phasing, new and improved open space resources will be made available in the surrounding neighborhoods, including a new park adjacent to Pier 42 to be completed in spring 2022.
Details of the plan will be presented at a City Council public hearing this afternoon at 1 p.m. (Oct. 3) in what marks the final stages of the land use review process. (Want to attend? Details here.)
Advocates at the community group East River Park Action, who organized the Sept. 21 rally, were not pleased by yesterday's news. Here's part of their reaction:
This is not good. Our park will still be completely destroyed — just over a longer period of time — five years instead of the original three and a half years.
The city is ignoring the neighborhood’s demands: 1) preserve as much of the park as possible. 2) Construct a resilient coastline — not a massive wall along the river. 3) Construct flood protection along the FDR. 4) Provide interim flood protection during years of construction.
It looks like the whole promenade will be closed while the city builds an 8-10 foot solid flood wall along the river.
The city will say it’s the neighborhood’s fault the timeline is longer because we asked for phased construction. In fact, it’s because they were never going to be able to get it all done in three and a half years, and they knew it.
The project was also undergoing a third-party review by a Dutch consultant hired by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera. No word on this review's status.
Yesterday's changes marked the second time that a significant alteration was announced for the stormproofing project. Last fall, the city surprised community stakeholders by announcing a complete overhaul of a plan that had been discussed over four years of local meetings.