ICYMI: On Thursday, New York Supreme Court Judge Melissa Crane dismissed a lawsuit challenging the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, The City reported.
The lawsuit, East River Park Action et al v City of New York, originally filed in February, asked to halt the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project that is scheduled to begin this fall. It also asked to declare the City Council vote last November approving the project "null and void."
Attorney Arthur Schwartz argued in a 42-page brief filed on July 20 that the city is required to seek Alienation from the state. (Alienation is the use of parkland for non-park purposes, even for brief periods.)
"Closing the East River Park, whether completely or in phases, will disproportionately affect the health and well-being and recreational opportunities of low-income New Yorkers who live in the neighborhood around the Park," Schwartz said.
As The City reported:
Crane ... ruled from the bench that the resiliency project won’t permanently alter the use of East River Park.
Closures will be staggered, and the park will be rebuilt and reopened after construction is complete. "The entire system is designed to protect the park, and to protect the neighborhood behind it," Holland said.
But Pat Arnow, a ERPA leader, said the consequences of the ruling are "dire for the park." Without the alienation process, she fears the city will not be held to account to meet their own deadlines.
"The city says the project will be done in five years. There's nothing to hold them to that schedule," Arnow said in an email. "We think there’s little chance they can complete such a big, complicated project within that time."
Tight deadlines, however, are a big part of why the project is moving ahead now. Much of the funding for the $1.45 billion project comes from post-Superstorm Sandy allocations made by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, which must be spent by 2022.
Last November, City Council signed off on the hotly contested flood-protection plan that will bury/elevate East River Park by eight feet as part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. Construction is expected to start this fall.
Previously on EV Grieve:
• Opinion: COVID-19 + Storm Surge = Catastrophe for the Lower East Side and East Village (Feb. 7)
• More details on the city's new plan to keep East River Park partially open during flood protection construction (Oct. 3, 2019)
• At the march and rally to save East River Park (Sept. 21, 2019)
• A visit to East River Park (July 10, 2019)