The CONSTRUCTION BIDS are in, and they are off-the-charts. Not in a good way.
The lowest bids for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project will cost $73 million more than the $1.45 billion budget… and they’ve barely started. These bids do not include the new ‘parallel conveyance’ for the enhanced sewer system, or other major components of the plan.
Where will the city find these additional funds, and how will the growing price tag affect NYC’s other coastal neighborhoods?
Break it down
SANDRESM1 is the ID for 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.
SANDRESM2 is the ID for Project Area 2 (PA2), the waterfront area from 14th St. to 25th St. 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.
The East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) plan was scheduled to start in the spring of 2020. The bid deadlines for PA1 were extended six times. Why? What are the problems? The latest deadline was Feb. 8, 2021, and the figures are cited above.
Nowhere to go? Tough.
The City will close 60 percent of the park soon. The promised mitigation–alternate park spaces–during the years of construction are insultingly inadequate. Coaches have been told there will be no permits for ballfields issued after June 1.
Kids have been inside for more than a year, and they finally can go out to play—but where? A coach reports that the kids in his league do not have the money to travel to far-off fields that have been offered.
The requests for free ferries from Corlears Hook have been ignored, making Governors Island or other ballfields inaccessible to most.
There is also no alternate site for the popular, productive Lower East Side Ecology Center’s compost yard, yet it is slated for removal.
The promenade and path south of the ferry landing at Corlears Hook is closed. This is not for the ESCR construction, but a separate project. Someday, there will be an Upland park at Pier 42, south of East River Park. Designed in 2013, it’s been delayed for years, and now the plan is to open it in 2023.
Also on Pier 42, and first on the agenda, will be an interim park area opening in 2022 (meant to provide alternate space while much of East River Park and the esplanade from Montgomery to Brooklyn Bridge are closed). It will be devoid of shade or restrooms and have very tall chain link fences along the river, with four tennis courts that aren’t really used by our neighborhood residents. It will be ready a year after construction has already closed much of East River Park, but hey, it’s a mitigation, right?
Not a viable flood control plan
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. In addition:
- It’s not adequate to protect us into the next century. https://eastriverparkaction.org/videos/ (Video “East Side Coastal Resiliency: Something is Fishy.” Watch to the end for magnificent alternative flood control methods.)
- It’s an environmental health catastrophe for our neighborhood, especially in Covid times. https://eastriverparkaction.org/bad-air-days/
- The timelines are also wildly unrealistic. The city says it will take three years until we have flood control and five years until we have a new park. Really? Even if that were possible, can we have some Interim Flood Protection Measures in the meantime? No, says the city after a superficial study by the Office of Emergency Management. https://eastriverparkaction.org/2020/07/17/not-one-sandbag/
- As new consciousness develops about climate change and infrastructure, the ESCR still prioritizes cars over community. There are more modern ways to gain flood control that work with our environment and natural systems instead of trying to hold back the forces of climate change by brute force. https://eastriverparkaction.org/2021/01/08/whaddya-want-anyway/
- The city has repeatedly hidden the Value Engineering Study it used as the rationale for the project. Our Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request and an appeal finally unearthed the three-year-old report last month. It is still opaque because it is heavily redacted. We should be afforded an opportunity to have the plan reevaluated with transparency and accountability. https://eastriverparkaction.org/2021/02/28/value-engineering-redacted/
What can we do?
Call on City Council Members to hold a hearing to reevaluate the plan and see the unredacted Value Engineering Study that supposedly justified the current East Side Coastal Resiliency. https://eastriverparkaction.org/actions-now/
And please help us add some muscle to the requests by supporting our new legal team. Donate to help us gain a flood control plan that is good for our neighborhood and for the earth. Thank you.
Enjoy the park while it bursts into spring, and help us preserve it for our future.
|Donate to East River Park ACTION legal fund via GoFundMe to help continue the fight to #SaveEastRiverPark. Send checks to East River Park Action, c/o Jon Lefkowitz, 428 E. 10th St., New York, NY 10009. We are deeply grateful.|