City officials and Community Board 3 claim they are working with the community on the $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR). In fact, they are engaging in a ‘conspiracy of silence’ about the massive park-topped flood wall has becomes less transparent to community partners all the time:
• no town hall by electeds in nearly a year;
• no response to the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests regarding ESCR;
• the Community Advisory Group, formed to provide the only ongoing outside review of ESCR, was finally convened last week. Most of the agenda was devoted to detailed information about how they’re going to ceate a website and social media to provide detailed information about the ESCR someday soon.
• CB3 Parks Committee has failed to have a report since on ESCR since last winter;
• no consideration for LES Ecology Center despite everyone, from the Borough President on down voicing support for it;
• no updating of the ESCR plan to reflect the Pandemic’s urgency around open space for social distancing and air quality measures to protect health, alongside the mental health, especially of vulnerable people.
Of course, no one from ESCR has ever engaged people in the park, Nor have any officials questioned the inequity of giving $1.1 billion in City funds to this one spot, leaving crumbs for other resiliency projects in other vulnerable neighborhoods.
The city has not lived up to its promises: “Since early visioning, the City has been working hand-in-hand with community partners and residents to identify the best ways to meet the challenges we face from climate change, including sea level rise and more frequent, intense storms.” NYC.gov/escr
ESCR is supposed to protect NYCHA, which is already getting partial flood walls and deployable barriers for Sandy-damaged buildings by the park, but as part of the conspiracy of silence, these flood barriers are never spoken of, nor is the residents’ wellbeing during the years of living in a fenced off construction zone. There is silence around losing the ‘lungs’ of the community as East River Park goes down; and nary a murmur about preparing for storms in the interim nor the ESCR-related traffic as materials and workers flood in. Electeds at every level will be remembered for their silence.
–Wendy Brawer, Lower East Side