The lowest construction bids for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) will cost $73 million more than the $1.45 billion budget — and they’ve barely started, according to the latest mailing from advocacy group East River Park Action.
The group breaks down the bids, which they say doesn't include the new "parallel conveyance" for the enhanced sewer system, or other major components of the plan:
• Project Area 1 (PA1). It includes East River Park, below 14th Street. This is the section that the city intends to raze and then bury under eight feet of fill. There were only two construction bids for this massive, presumably lucrative, job. Both bids exceeded the city’s estimate. The contract has not yet been awarded, but the low bid, from IPC Resiliency Partners, is $1.272 billion.• Project Area 2 (PA2), the waterfront area from 14th Street to 25th Street. The low bid for this section was over $163 million, and the contract was awarded to Perfetto Contracting Company. Work is already underway. Asser Levy Park is being torn up and trees have been removed. The Northern section of the greenway has been closed, leaving cyclists and runners without a safe alternative.The bids for PA1 and PA2 total $1,435,287,143. In addition, the city has already spent more than $90 million in "planning." That comes to $1,525,287,143, which is $73 million over budget and doesn't include key components.
As East River Park Action points out, the ESCR plan was scheduled to start in the spring of 2020. The bid deadlines for PA1 were extended six times. Questions remain: Why? What are the problems? Where will the city find these additional funds, and how will the growing price tag affect NYC’s other coastal neighborhoods?
Per the group: "The wildly unrealistic budget is just one of the reasons we argue that the East Side Coastal Resiliency plan is not workable in its present form."
As previously reported, the group's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request and an appeal finally unearthed the three-year-old value engineering study. However, the study — the oft-cited factor behind the city's change of plans in September 2018 to bury/elevate East River Park by eight feet — is heavily redacted.
On March 2, the group's attorney, Jack L. Lester, appealed to the Department of Design and Construction, the Office of Management and Budget and NYC Parks to see the entire value engineering study, not the mostly blacked-out version.
The city's current plan, which has been met with outrage by community members, will raze the 57.5-acre East River Park, bulldozing 1,000 mature trees and rebuilding the park atop eight feet of landfill meant to protect the Lower East Side and surrounding neighborhoods from a 100-year-flood event and sea-level rise.
In October 2019, the city announced that they would phase in the construction so only portions of the park are closed to the public at any given time. According to various reports, the city has committed to leaving a minimum of 42 percent of East River Park open to the public. It is projected to be complete in 2025.
The start of the long-delayed construction is slated to commence this spring, according to a recent presentation the city made.
You can donate to the East River Park Action legal fund here.
For further reading: East Village-based musician Matt Sweeney wrote an essay on Medium. "I wrote this in the hopes that NYC journalists will investigate the proposed plan to destroy NYC’s best park." You can read the piece at this link.