Take heed from the recent article in the NY Times “It’s Going to Be a Hot Summer. It Will Be Hotter if You’re Not Rich.”
Everyone knows that we need trees for clean air, cooling shade, and other benefits. Regardless, every day 80-year-old oak and London Plane trees are being felled, at a rapid rate, in the “open” portion of the East River Park, on the Greenway from East 6th Street to E. 10th Street. Approximately seventy were cut down on the Greenway in May, along with forty-four in Corlears Hook Park, around the temporary lawn near the ferry landing, and along the FDR Drive bringing the total count up to over 600 mostly mature, healthy trees killed.
What happened to the assurances that, with phased construction, at least 42% of East River Park would stay open throughout construction? Access to the parts of the park that are not under construction is difficult, and seemingly random closures of fields leave community members without a healthy place to run, relax, refresh their spirits and cool down. 42% open was a mantra—repeated over and over to persuade the City Council to vote for the City’s abysmal “flood protection” project.
Lack of oversight, and obfuscation, lets Con Ed, the DDC, and other agencies pass the blame baton back and forth—without anyone stepping in to protect community health. This demonstrates disdain for the lives of everyone on the LES, including those who voted for the candidates who backed the inadequate and destructive ESCR plan. Why does a massive, “first of its kind” project in New York City have virtually NO OVERSIGHT?
Elected officials, please step up before the entire park is a denuded wasteland.
Call Carlina Rivera: https://council.nyc.gov/district-2/, Chris Marte: https://council.nyc.gov/district-1/ , Harvey Epstein: https://nyassembly.gov/mem/Harvey-Epstein/contact/, Mark Levine: https://www.manhattanbp.nyc.gov/contact/ Shekar Krishnan: https://council.nyc.gov/district-25/, Brad Hoylman: https://www.nysenate.gov/senators/brad-hoylman/contact, Brian Kavanagh: https://www.nysenate.gov/senators/brian-kavanagh/contact
Going forward: Why does NYC keep banking on concrete, one of the worst materials for the climate, rather than working with natural systems and strengthening social readiness to address the ever-larger storms to come? ESCR is a model of what not to do, and its mistakes shouldn’t be applied to Wagner Park and other places—without an honest and transparent review of the decisions made by former Mayor De Blasio.
With half of East River Park’s once verdant space now a barren construction zone, the vegetation— that formerly filtered emissions from the FDR Drive, the Williamsburg Bridge and Con Edison — is gone. How will the quality of the air be affected as a result?
We’re wondering as well, so LES Breathe placed air quality sensors in the community to measure breathable particles (PM2.5), heat and humidity. Check the current readings at Purpleair.com (or use this shortcut bit.ly/pa-les). See how to understand the results at eastriverparkaction.org/sensors.
We’re often asked how Con Edison’s power plant impacts our air quality, since it is powered by fossil fuels. Here’s a response, with a powerful action you can take today to help improve our air, our climate and our common future.
A peer-reviewed study in Environmental Research (April 2021), concluded that air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for nearly one in every five deaths worldwide. The eastern United States is one of the areas significantly impacted by mortalities from PM 2.5 exposure. This effect on human health, especially on children, goes hand in hand with the greatest threat – catastrophic climate change, which is a direct result of the burning of fossil fuels. This combustion fills our fragile atmosphere with ever increasing amounts of greenhouse gases that cause our cities, the oceans and polar regions to overheat.
So here’s what we can do right here in New York State
Take a minute today to support a meaningful step that the Governor, along with leaders of the New York State Senate and the Assembly, can take as they negotiate the State’s budget for this year. Take this action today!
Please call Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins at 518-455-2585, and Speaker Carl Heastie at 518-455-3791. Tell them to include these two bills in the NYS budget for this year – call by next Friday, March 25, before budgeting concludes :
1. S6453, the Build Public Renewables Act, which would give the publicly-owned NYPA (New York Power Authority) the ability to own and build new renewable energy sources, and to provide 100% renewable energy to all state and municipal properties and transportation by 2025.
2. S6843B, the All Electric Building Act, to ensure that no permits can be issued to new buildings unless all their energy is supplied from electricity, effective January 1, 2024 (with some consideration for special circumstances).
These bills are the first steps in wresting control of our energy from the investor-owned monopoly utilities (Con Edison, for us) and toward a just transition toward jobs in a cleaner energy future for workers in the fossil fuel industry. There’s a larger plan: please take a look at https://www.publicpowerny.org/
Take people power seriously, and help make our dependence on fossil fuels history!
You can look at East River Park photos and also upload your own to this Flickr (photo sharing site) group, East River Park, New York City https://flic.kr/g/3fN7Kd
We also have a biodiversity photo archive at iNaturalist:
You can click on “filters” to select “Research Grade” (more reliable identifications), categories (birds, insects, plants, etc.), or add date or month restrictions. I use this all the time!
There is also a bird list on e-Bird: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L872559
Some of these are linked to photos.
A slide show of the wonders of East River Park in recent years and what we are losing by Pat Arnow. https://patarnow.zenfolio.com/p313418955
2001-2011 a slide show of the painful 10-year closure of the waterfront promenade. Rebuilding was promised as a two year project starting in 2005 (before that, starting July, 2001, the waterfront was just flat closed with no plans to fix the builkheads) by Pat Arnow: https://patarnow.zenfolio.com/p249576553
More Air Quality
Thanks to your support, LES Breathe has purchased air quality sensors. The first five PurpleAir real time monitors are being placed around the neighborhood, along with mobile sensors that work indoors or out. In coming weeks, these sensors will provide open data that will be shared on easy to use maps.
Also in the works:
- A guide in Spanish and English for having cleaner air at home
- An inclusive Air Quality engagement campaign
- A concise review of the 2,000 page report on the Park’s soil and water. That was another document that came to East River Park Action via a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).
LES Breathe has a growing number of volunteers – contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
For more about this public health-focused committee of East River Park Action, visit our LES Breathe web page.
Please donate to our Legal Fund–we are a 501(c)3 so donations are tax deductible.
Donate via PayPal (you can use a credit card with this link also). Or write checks payable to “East River Park Action” then, in the memo write “legal.” Send to East River Park Action, c/o Jonathan Lefkowitz, 426 E. 10th St., New York, N.Y. 10009