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.
6 thoughts on “Whaddya Want Anyway?”
I appreciate the above piece “Whaddya Want Anyway?”. It takes a gentle, environmentally kind, and fact-based tone urging city leaders and our Parks Dept. to re-evaluate their “Preferred Plan” for flood mitigation and the planned destruction of the East River Park, which has thankfully been postponed, due to factors that I am unclear on.
I would like to add a few further points and questions that argue against the current destructive plan, with which continues to threaten our lovely, sanity-saving park.
Firstly: Turf Toe. Many, if not all, of the planned replacement turf on the athletic fields will be artificial turf. This type of ground covering causes injuries to athletes, as one can read about in an article in MedicineNet HealthNews by Adam Townsend on 10/04/2019. According to this article:
“Greenbay Packer Davante Adams, a star wide receiver on the Wisconsin NFL team, likely won’t play against the Cowboys Sunday because of a condition called turf toe, or a strain to the ligaments of the big toe at the ball of the foot.
Adams joins the list of top athletes suffering from the obscure toe strain first recorded after the invention and widespread use of Astroturf and other artificial turfs.”
Not only is astroturf hazardous to athletes, it depletes the underlying soil of all of it’s biodiversity, turning it into a lifeless, oxygen-starved dirt, incapable of any kind of real benefit to the biome that would exist under normal conditions.
Secondly, the article mentions the ConEdison power lines that are buried under the frontage road adjacent to that section of the FDR. From what I understand these massive conduits run directly from our East Village power station to supply power to Wall Street, the nerve center of the financial world. According to anecdotal evidence ConEdison buried these lines so long ago that even they are not sure exactly where they are running and would need easy access to them in case of any emergencies. Fair enough, but is it really impossible to build the berm high enough that ConEdison couldn’t access them easily? Or is it some kind of Wall Street/ConEdison alliance that exerted such a great influence to result in the planned destruction of our fair park?
Third, according to reliable sources, the long-heralded but little-implemented Congestion Pricing Plan includes the toll exemption on the FDR for cars traveling through lower Manhattan, but not entering into the actual street grid, and the earlier community approved plan would require the intermittent closure of one lane on the FDR and that just wasn’t sitting well with the traffic people. This unfair exemption will simply add more pollution into an area where mostly POC live in NYCHA Housing. Why are we still putting cars over people? I thought, wishfully, that we had learned this lesson! Besides the plan that includes the berm over the FDR would close that lane in the overnight hours when traffic is much lighter. Also, due to the current pandemic, traffic in general is lighter, and now would be a great time to implement this plan, especially since the (much-needed) Congestion Pricing Plan implementation seems to be years from getting approval, much less being put into effect.
Lastly, at some of the Community Meetings I attended in 2018, I did hear some objections from NYCHA residents that they felt reluctant to have a berm over the FDR because it would make their view into a wall, instead of the parks’ greenery. I understand their concern, but that is an argument that doesn’t take into account that it would also be a dismal view of a wall if the “Preferred Plan” is put into effect, because the entire Park will be lifted by 8 feet and the wall will still be right across the FDR, in your view. The justification that the pile-driving would be too close to these residents and too disruptive doesn’t hold water either, since the other plan also includes pile-driving that would be only a few feet further away, which wouldn’t really be that much less disturbing. Not only that, but think of how much quieter and pollution-free the park could become with a berm over it.
The city has lied to us and shoved this plan down our throats when 90% of EV residents oppose it, and it will cost WAY more than the originally approved plan, at a time when our resources are stretched to the limit amidst a health and economic crisis worse than any in the last 100 years. Why is this plan being forced on us? Follow the money. And then change the plan. Don’t destroy our park. No deforestation in the name of flood mitigation.
Good points, Maya. Right on.
Some interesting points are made, however certainly skewed. It would be great to have realistic alternative plans presented. No one in their right mind wants to lose the park it offers so much to the community. However anyone who truly lived through hurricane Sandy and had their homes flooded or lost vital services wants a solution sooner rather than later.
Covering the FDR would be a great idea, but could that realistically be implemented? A floating city on the other hand seems like a joke.
The east river park has long been neglected, I have watched the Hudson River park being constantly improved while East river park goes untouched.
In NY you will never be able to please everyone, but working together to come up with the best solution and keeping an open mind to other peoples ideas would be the most responsible approach, some sacrifices will inevitably have to be made to solve this problem.
Lastly I do take task with the 90% of east village opposition figure where did it come from? and how was the question posed?
Solutions are at hand that can leave most of the park intact–and the park should be improved and made more resilient over time as barriers are constructed along the FDR. Those of us who endured the mess of Hurricane Sandy do want flood control sooner than later. How about interim flood protection, which would give us help for most storms during the years of construction. We don’t need to be approving a boondoggle that is already over budget and behind schedule just because it’s the only plan the city wants to do.