Work on the $1.45-billion East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project will close the southern section of East River Park — below the Houston Street entrance — starting on Nov. 21 ... with construction completion not set for by the end of 2026 "given project pause during COVID and procurement delays."
The city released the first set of dates for ESCR construction and a revised phasing plan for this Project Area 1 last Wednesday during Community Board 3's Parks, Recreation, Waterfront, & Resiliency Committee.
As we first reported here, the Compost Yard has been relocated, and that area will be turned into "a passive lawn" during the interim.
On Nov. 1, all but four tennis courts will close, with the remainder to shutter on Nov. 21 along with most of the southern end of East River Park.
Meanwhile, the rest of East River Park — the area north of Reach F on the city's snapshots — will be open for at least another year. There appears to be a small closure at the north end above 10th Street sometime before next summer. (The city has said that they will maintain public access to a minimum of 42 percent of the park throughout construction.)
There aren't any other specific dates at this time attached to gutting the 57.5-acre East River Park — burying the existing park under fill and elevating it by 8-to-10 feet above sea level. You can find the updated 22-page presentation from last week at this link.
Opponents of this version of the reconstruction project continue to speak out, stressing there's a better path forward to protect the Lower East Side and surrounding neighborhoods from a 100-year-flood event and sea-level rise — one that doesn't cause 1,000 mature trees to be chopped down.
As Archpaper noted in an article on the project this past summer:
Though the city has committed to planting approximately 2,000 new trees, consisting of 50 different tree species that will be more resilient to salt spray and extreme weather, it will take decades for the new saplings on the reconstructed park to achieve a full canopy.
East River Park Action and other advocates say there are alternatives to preserve the park and provide flood protection, such as the one mapped out in the years after Sandy. In late 2018, the city surprised community stakeholders by announcing a complete overhaul of a plan discussed over four years of local meetings.
Efforts to spur Council Speaker Corey Johnson to hold an oversight hearing on this phase of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project have yet to materialize. However, he's aware of what's happening here now.
Meanwhile, work continues in Project Area 2 between East 15 Street and 25th Street, including Asser Levy Playground, Stuyvesant Cove Park and Murphy Brothers Playground.