East River Park Action rallied July 27, 2021, to urge NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer to withhold approval for the controversial low-bid contract that will destroy East River Park. Construction for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project at East River Park could start once approved. Nearly 100 people came with creative signs and chants and solid reasons not to sign the contract. Here’s the letter we hand delivered at the Municipal Building.
Comptroller Scott Stringer
1 Centre Street Rm 517
New York, NY 10007
Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Comptroller Stringer,
We are writing to respectfully ask that you do not register the $1,272,221,100 construction contract with IPC Resiliency Partners (IPC) for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Plan (ESCR) project for Project Area 1 at East River Park. The ESCR project has already gone over the original budget of $1.45 billion by approximately $317 million, and continues to grow at a time when the city is facing financial stress (please see attached). At least $1.1 billion of this is New York City funds. A crucial element of this project, the sewers and drainage system (aka Parallel Conveyance project) has yet to open for bids. With construction materials soaring in cost due to the pandemic, the figures presented are already outdated. The present plan is harmful to the community, disastrous for the climate and public health, and fiscally irresponsible – ESCR will place an immense burden on the City’s budget for many years to come.
As you know, IPC, the selected lower bidder on the project, is a newly-formed joint venture of three companies that had no history prior to the bid. It’s obvious IPC lacks the relevant experience for a project of this cost and size. Without this necessary experience, you are risking ballooning costs, the quality and timely completion of flood protection– that was demanded by and promised to the community.
Additionally, in 2018, with the lack of any community input, Mayor de Blasio announced the change to the present plan – which will require cutting down almost 1,000 mature trees that safeguard air quality, adding a seawall, and covering the entire 46 acres with 8 feet of fill – due to a value engineering study that was performed on the prior plan (which would have cost half as much and didn’t require destroying the entirety of East River Park). We have since submitted many FOIL requests and even filed a lawsuit, but the City has still not released a full unredacted version of this study. It is therefore inconclusive that this plan will be more effective than the other less expensive options, according to the independent analyst hired by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in 2019.
You have stated “Environmental racism means the people who pay the price are communities of color.” The largest open green space in lower Manhattan will not be safely accessible for years to come, hurting the racially diverse lower income and working class neighborhoods that have relied on East River Park since 1939. Given the extreme heat and poor air quality that our City is experiencing this summer, which will only intensify as time goes on, preserving green space is the only logical solution.
Given these facts, we urge you, under the Duties of the Comptroller as listed on your website, to reject the IPC contract, demand transparency and an independent review on the prior plan, that would have cost the City considerably less. The ESCR is a boondoggle project that will have financial and ecological consequences not only for the Lower East Side and East Village, but for the entire New York City for decades to come, and you have the power to change it.
Thank you for your attention.
On July 28, Comptroller Stringer sent the contract back to the Department of Design and Construction, the city agency in charge of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project to resolve outstanding issues.