What should the East Side Coastal Resiliency Plan look like?
- Earlier visioning renderings from ESCR planning sessions with the community show marshes and wetlands with bridges and salt-water-resistant plantings. These are accommodations to sea level rise and storm surges. The parkland becomes a sponge that absorbs flood waters.
- Where our bulkheads (the promenade along the river) are deteriorating, they can be reconstructed as marsh/wetlands that are in harmony with the way this section of the river once was. There can be bridges over the wetlands—as there are in other waterfront parklands around the city and the world. It’s a more environmentally sound way to face storm surges and sea level rise.
- As trees perish, they should be replaced with more salt-water resistant varieties. Meantime, almost all of the 1,000 mature trees now in the park are healthy–despite earlier salt-water exposure.
- Natural turf playing fields can also absorb flood waters and recover quickly—and they keep the air cooler—unlike artificial turf, which raises temperatures and gives off harmful particulate matter. Artificial turf, must be replaced after even a little flooding
- We still do need flood walls and/or berms along the FDR, added sewer capacity (a good part of the current ESCR), gates across the highway at the northern end of the project (in the current plan and probably a good solution though there are engineering issues that need examination).
ConEd lines run underground along the highway–and they don’t want their lines buried deeply as they would be with berms. An earlier plan had a tunnel built under the berm. ConEd didn’t like it, but it was do-able. Currently, the plan calls for no covering–that 1.2 mile stretch will be the same greenway at street level as it is now with the noisy, emission-spewing traffic on one side–but there will be a giant levee on the other side of the path, making sure no fresh air or nice view will come in from the East River. It’s ugly and unhealthy.
• Decking over at least part of the FDR Drive with parkland on top would add to acreage and make up for lost parkland as sea levels rise.
- 850 community members weighed in on design options and decking over the FDR was a top choice. Note that 15,000 have signed petitions against the current plan, including 2,000 NYCHA residents.
- Even with revisions, the ESCR would still be an enormous undertaking, but it doesn’t have to entirely bury East River Park.
- Read more about the decking proposal here.
How to do it
There is no ready-to-go earlier plan, but there are enough pieces of those plans that can be put together. It takes commitment to true resiliency and green solutions, truly caring about climate change, and an honest assessment of how long the current plan will keep our park a vast construction zone.
The L Train was going to be shut down for years, but now it’s not. The BQE was going to be rebuilt, taking out the Brooklyn Promenade, and now it’s not. The city can think creatively about our neighborhood, too.
For more ideas, see the video about sea level rise and how inadequate the current East Side Coastal Resiliency plan is. In this eight-minute video, City College Professor Amy Berkov explains and offers ideas for true resiliency (starting at minute 6:35):
See our History and Resources pages for previous plans that include the above ideas. https://eastriverparkaction.org/resources/
Don’t forget Interim Flood Protection. The Office of Emergency Management gave a superficial study and said it couldn’t be done. Go back. Don’t leave our neighborhood exposed for years to storm surges.