“If this was caused by a natural process, we would call it a natural disaster. If it was caused by anyone other than ourselves, we would call it an act of war.”
Here are excerpts from some of the compelling and knowledgable testimony submitted to the City Council committee that will vote on the East Side Coastal Resiliency project to bury East River Park and rebuild it eight feet higher for flood protection. If the committee passes the plan in the next couple of weeks, it will go to the whole City Council. Soon the bulldozers will rumble in to demolish the entire park over five torturous years. But if the committee reads this eloquent testimony, and have listened to the more than 60 people who spoke at City Hall in person, they’ll have to vote NO.
–Kendra Krueger, East Village
Kendra Krueger is Science Education Coordinator, CUNY Advanced Science Research Center. Read her East River Coastal Resiliency Alternative Resources document that is the basis of her testimony on alternative and green nature-based infrastructure, regenerative landscaping, and other strategies for flood control.
As a New Yorker born and raised in the East Village I recently attended a Lower East Side reunion which is held annually in the East River Park. It was there I learned of the project to totally destroy the park with a plan of rebuilding it to a new height. I found this idea to be devastating.
The park is now a gem. The rebuild will take too long. The many residents I have spoken with believe the plan will not be accomplished In Our Lifetime.
We all agree we have a 21st century problem with Rising coastlines and more violent weather conditions brought about by our global warming of earth and sea waters. Therefore we need a 21st century solution that does not remove the trees of the park for an extended period of time. Those of us in NYCHA housing along the FDR Drive will have our air quality compromised to perhaps dangerous levels not to mention the removal of our Oasis which the park represents to our neighborhood.
–Curtis White, Lower East Side
I think one thing that has become clear in this plan is how neglected our neighborhood has been for decades–other than East River Park, our parks are small, crumbling or currently under construction; our school playgrounds are rundown and underequipped; we live close to a major highway that creates horrible levels of noise and pollution.
When I first heard of a possible alternate plan that included decking over the FDR, I could hardly believe it–how wonderful would that be?!? And I still think it’s a fantastic alternative–it would *add* to parkland instead of taking away, and ameliorate an enormous source of stress and pollution for all of us who live in the LES. This is an incredible chance to truly redo East River Park in the *right* way–showing the world how a first-class city can treat its residents right, while fighting climate change and ensuring a beautiful healthy future.
Please vote no on the current plan and ask for the plan that includes decking over the FDR!”
–Marcella Durand, Lower East Side
The city has been very opaque about why the Big U plan was rejected. Here’s the plan: “In East River Park, an undulating berm at the location of the service road to the FDR Drive provides flood protection. The berm is shaped so that the existing sports fields can be maintained. Generous landscaped bridges will connect the East River Park to the community. The flood protection continues to Montgomery Street by fortifying the new Pier 42 Park, where a deployable will help maintain the on-ramp to the FDR Drive.”
The Big U plan had considerable community input, the demolition plan has been launched without any overview from the city much less community input. It reads more like the work of an angry toddler smashing down toy bricks: “Why did you do that?” “Mind your own business!”
So the city has to explain itself. There is a very strong argument for going back to the Big U plan.
This voter sure won’t be voting for anybody who votes for destruction of the East River Park.
– J. Patricia Connolly, Midtown. She power walks along the park for two hours every day from 36th and Park to Pier 36.
ESCR punishes non-polluting bicyclists by placing them in the ‘smoking lane’ too close to FDR traffic exhaust. I commented on the DEIS Transportation chapter, which leaves out consideration of health, emissions, or congestion pricing (which matters because the FDR will become the ‘free zone’, increasing traffic as soon as 2021). Private cars are being prioritized by ESCR’s Alternative 4 although they contribute 16% of NYC’s Greenhouse Gases. 200+ responded to the DEIS (although they are required to respond, see how the City brushed off even NYS Attorney General James by searching her name in Chapter 10 (http://bit.ly/FEISch10)
–Wendy Brawer, GreenMaps and East Village resident
See all of Wendy Brawer’s testimony with its close reading of the Environmental Impact Statement and comments on the testimony by officials at the Oct. 3 hearing.
The City Council should not approve the ULURP, because the city is still proposing an act of unprecedented and unnecessary destruction. If this was caused by a natural process, we would call it a natural disaster. If it was caused by anyone other than ourselves, we would call it an act of war.
–Dr. Amy Berkov, City College of New York Dept. of Biology and East Village resident.
See all of Amy Berkov’s well-researched testimony on the inadequacy of the plan for sea level rise, effects on habitat, and the New York State Attorney General’s statements.
As both a preservationist and environmentalist I am asking the City Council to help us fight for a better plan that will not destroy our existing park.
Of course, I understand and believe in the need for flood control, but destroying 60 acres of existing park and trees with a ten foot mountain of landfill that will jeopardize the air quality and health of our community is not the answer.
As a preservationist, I have always strived to do no harm to historically important buildings and I believe the ER park is historically significant and should be treated as a landmark.
The question remains – is this plan the best we can do? Is this a 21st century solution? Consider, how are other major cities around the globe addressing coastal resiliency? Would this plan be a solution considered for the upper west side, Battery Park City, or Venice? Or is it simply “good enough” for our community? I ask again – Is this the best we can do? I believe the answer is NO. We can do better! Please stop this plan.
–Catherine Cullen, preservationist and Lower East Side Resident
FDR Drive is a dirty nuisance. It is an open, noisy, heat-emitting pit. It is a barrier between our entire neighborhood and the Park. Why not renew efforts to turn FDR Drive into a tunnel, and build the necessary berm and adaptive infrastructure on top of it? The width of six+ lanes of traffic is surely enough for a berm, bike lanes, pedestrian access, and so much more. Not to mention the impact it would have on air pollution, noise, and quality of life for all residents of the neighborhood. FDR Drive itself could certainly use some improvements too, especially further North of here. Boston’s Big Dig, while an expensive and fraught project, has had an invaluably positive impact on the entire surrounding community and the City at large.
–Meredith Danberg-Ficarelli, Lower East Side
I run and bike and stroll in East River Park regularly. It is one of the few green areas (and by far the biggest) not just in the neighborhood, but several adjacent neighborhoods as well. It is enjoyed by a wide diversity of folks, and most of us have no other place to go.
The ‘phased construction’ plan currently proposed by the mayor and being considered by the council at this Thursday’s hearing is actually, ‘phased destruction,’ and is totally unacceptable.
Thousands of us community members are active on this issue, and tens of thousands of us are paying attention. We love this park and we are fighting for it. The current plan is a betrayal of the community, and the participatory process we were promised, and we will never forget who betrayed us: Mayor DiBlasio and Councilwoman Carlina Rivera.
––Andrew Boyd, LES resident and a dear friend of the East River Park
While I realize than any flood mitigation plan would likely cause some temporary inconvenience and displeasure to Lower East Siders, I’m concerned that the proposed ESCR plan, in its current form, is not the best solution. I urge you not to approve it. The original plan including berms—or a similar plan incorporating them—is a much better option that would be acceptable to Lower East Side residents.
–Kim Sillen, Lower East Side
See all of Kim Sillen’s outstanding testimony on equity, health, cars, alienation, and efficiency.
The park serves a multi-ethnic community including low income, middle income and upper middle income population. We ALL use the park. I have been bicycling there for all those years. It is safe, it is beautiful. It is free. WE NEED OUR PARKS! A place to sit quietly and gaze at the water and the boats passing by. Variety of athletic events for youth and children and the elderly who are appreciating the vegetation and the peace. This assault must be stopped for the support of ALL OF US!
–Ida J. Salm
Please listen to the people who depend on the East River Park for their health and well-being. Just ONCE, don’t practice politics as the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them.
– Eva Buchmuller
I’m a runner, and a member of New Balance-Central Park Track Club. I run daily in ERP, and our team workouts are at the beautifully renovated 6th street track in the park on Tuesday evenings, from the spring through the fall. The idea that the track will be torn up after just being renovated, made inaccessible for several years, is heartbreaking. Additionally, East River Park is where I regularly take my wife and infant daughter for strolls along the waterfront.
I understand we need a flood plan. I know it will happen again, and it may well be worse. But this current plan is wrongheaded. I don’t know why the original plan of a flood barrier along the FDR isn’t being used, as it’s cheaper and will mostly preserve the park. Certainly anything is better than the current plan, which will certainly take far longer and cost far more than estimated – I watched for years as the last renovations to the Park proceeded at a snail’s pace, and were incredibly dirty, noisy, and disruptive.
I urge you to intervene against Alternative 4. Please, please consider the real quality of life impact of years of heavy machinery, dump trucks, noise, fumes, all degrading our neighborhood during the construction, in addition to the loss of use of the park, and the destruction of over 1,000 trees. It would be a disaster for the East Village and Lower East Side.
–Alex Bruskin, East Village
–Pat Arnow, East River Park ACTION and Lower East Side resident
It is hard enough trying to raise a family in the areas of 34th St and more south. Having this path and fields gives us respite. This is true for the homeless people who live in the large shelter on 30th we have discussed often as well as those of us who use the path to exercise or easily get to work or school.
As families decide whether to stay in the Murray Hill, Stuy Town and south areas to raise our families we consider many factors. We don’t have easy access to any green areas without taking public transportation. Being able to walk on the east river path is the one exception. Taking that away for years would honestly be a game changer for many of us.
As someone who cares deeply about our neighborhood and children I ask you on behalf of many members of Third and 33rd and our community to please consider the above.
–Laura Bernstein, Murray Hill
The park contributes greatly to the life of the community. There must be a way to preserve it, while creating an extremely necessary barrier to protect our shoreline in the event of anticipated storm surges.
–Amy Scarola, taught school on the Lower East Side, now retired
Here is all the testimony on the East Side Coastal Resiliency project (ESCR) at the City Council’s Subcommittee on Landmarks, Sitings, and Dispositions October 3, 2019. The project will demolish East River Park over five years, bury it under eight feet of fill, and rebuild it.