We Need a Green Plan, Not an Environmental Disaster
Hurricane Sandy Didn’t Kill East River Park. New York City Will
Soon, New York City will demolish our big, beloved park on the unwealthy side of the Lower East Side and East Village. Everything must go–shady lawns, picnic areas, ballfields, running track, amphitheater, the compost yard, historic buildings, and 1,000 trees.
The city is determined to go ahead with the massively destructive ESCR–East Side Coastal Resiliency project, even though there are alternatives that could preserve much of our park and provide flood control.
Under the current plan, the city will build a 1.2 mile wall along the water and cover the razed park with eight feet of fill. Eventually a new park will be built on top of this levee.
The loss of all trees–which help us breathe and cleans and cools our neighborhood air–and the dust from dumping a million tons of fill will cause a health crisis for our already crowded Lower East Side with many people of color, elderly and low-income residents.
True Resiliency is Possible
There are better plans that will preserve our park and give us flood protection.
After Hurricane Sandy raged through New York in 2012, the community worked for four years with officials to plan flood control. Flood walls and berms (long hills) would be built along the FDR Drive for storm surge protection. The park itself could be flooded during a hurricane. It would help absorb the overflowing waters and quickly recover (as it did during Sandy). It would cost about $770 million.
The plan was not perfect–and the city kept revising it until it became a bloated mess. However, there were the bones of excellent, attractive, community-responsive flood control plans.
By late 2018, the city suddenly decided the whole park should be erased to build a giant levee with a new park on top. They based their decision on a report they later insisted did not exist. Our Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and appeal shook the report loose, but it was heavily redacted. The city grudgingly unredacted part of it, revealing many alternatives to the current plan. We are in a legal fight to see the rest of the Value Engineering Study.
Now, they still plan the most destructive, least-community-friendly option: to close 60 percent of the park in 2021, demolish it, then close other sections as they reopen completed areas. It is scheduled to take four years (but when has NYC ever done anything on schedule?) and cost $1.45 billion. The lowest bids have come in. They do not cover the entire project, yet they already exceed the budget by $73 million. Where will the money come from? See our “Already Over Budget” report.
An adaptation of the earlier plan should be our solution.
Community members say that the current plan is an environmental injustice. Some 15,000 people including 2,000 from NYCHA Speaks have signed various petitions against the plan. Hundreds of people have testified, marched, and protested, emailed, called, and flooded social media.
Elected officials including the mayor and City Council Members have not listened. Some candidates have. Check out their views and vote in the primary June 22.
Join us as we continue to try to Save East River Park.
Visit our ACTION page to see what you can do right now.
What should be done for flood control in East River Park?
Links to the earlier plans. This is the gory details page: History and Resources
What’s wrong with the plan: A Dozen Reasons Why. This we published in Oct. 2019. The reasons still hold. A 13th reason now: Covid-19 has made open park space crucial to our well being.
East River Park and the East Side Coastal Resiliency plan in the news from 2018 to now. East River Park News
See articles on Resilency, Mental and Physical Health Effects, and more.
Here are some of the passionate and well-informed testimonies opponents of the plan gave at the City Council Oct. 3: A Mountain of Testimony Against a Pile of Landfill
And here’s more testimony from earlier hearings. Hello? Hello? NYC Can You Hear Me?
Here is the November 2019 rally where we delivered 9,000 petitions to City Hall including 2,000 specifically from NYCHA residents. We represented our community allied in opposition to this plan that is an environmental disaster and an environmental injustice. New York City Council did not hear our impassioned demands. We Rallied.
East River Park ACTION leads 90 plaintiffs who took legal action over the destruction of environment and threats to health of residents. We filed a lawsuit in Feb. 2020. Judge ruled against us August 2020. We are appealing. See our Lawsuit page. And we are finding other legal avenues that will result in a better plan. Big news coming soon! Please donate to our legal fund.
East River Park ACTION is a nonprofit 501(c)3 charity. Donations are tax deductible.