We Need That Hearing!
Here’s our letter to our City Council Speaker urging a hearing. Please add your voice by writing, calling, and posting on social media.
NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson
224 West 30th St, Suite 1206
New York, NY 10001
Via Email: SpeakerJohnson@council.nyc.gov
Dear Speaker Johnson,
On behalf of the Lower East Side community in Manhattan and the wider community of New York City, we respectfully ask you, as Speaker of NYC Council, to allow Council Member Justin Brannan, Chair of the Committee on Resiliency and Waterfronts and Council Member James Gennaro, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, to hold an oversight hearing on the current East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project. During our meeting with Council Member Brannan, he indicated that he was in favor of holding an oversight hearing and we have since learned Council Member Gennarro has agreed to co-sponsor this hearing. We are urging you to allow this very crucial hearing.
After Superstorm Sandy, a coastal resiliency plan was developed – by professionals and community members over four years – to protect the East Village and Lower East Side of Manhattan. The plan addressed future flooding in the event of a hurricane, at the cost of $760 million, and foresaw keeping much of the East River Park intact, so that it served as a “sponge” during a hurricane with the waters eventually receding (as it actually happened during Sandy).
In addition, the current ESCR project has already surpassed the original budget of $1.45 billion by approximately $317 million, and continues to grow. The plan will demolish the entire 46 acres of the much-used East River Park – including cutting down almost 1,000 mature trees and destroying or displacing approximately 500 documented plant and wildlife species – then dumping 8 feet of fill and planting new tree saplings that will take decades to mature and provide shade. This disastrous plan was thrust onto the community by the de Blasio administration in 2018, after scrapping the original plan based on a “Value Engineering Study” that was hidden from the public for years until a heavily redacted version was released through FOIL that showed the disadvantages of the current plan as well as other options. The original plan was co-created with the community, of building berms or walls alongside the FDR. That plan did not require decimating the entire park and its ecosystem.
According to the independent analyst hired by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in 2019, it is not demonstrated that the current ECSR plan will be more effective than the original, less expensive and less destructive option.
After delaying the bids for this project five times, only two construction companies were able to submit bids on this ill considered and unprecedented project at East River Park. The lower bidder, IPC Resiliency Partners (IPC) – a newly formed joint venture without any proven experience – was awarded the contract. Comptroller Scott Stringer rejected the IPC contract and sent the contract back to Dept of Design and Construction due to outstanding issues including IPC’s failure to meet the City’s goal of hiring 30% of minority/women-owned business enterprises. It is also not clear that all of the companies comprising IPC, which is a joint venture, have filed all of the required disclosures in the city’s PASSPort system, as required by the Procurement Policy Board rules and the New York City Administrative Code.
Days after Comptroller Stringer rightfully rejected the contract, the Mayor overrode Comptroller Stringer and registered the IPC contract for the ESCR project.
As stated in the new report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that was released just past Monday, it begs for “…bold climate action —from neighborhoods to nations.” Climate change is here, and even with drastic cuts of greenhouse gas emissions, we are beyond the tipping point.
With the urgency of climate change, compounded by Covid-19 (with a Delta variant spike looming), there must be full transparency and community involvement in all environmental policy making. East River Park Action is formally asking you, Speaker, to allow a long overdue and crucial oversight hearing on the ESCR project. The assault on invaluable biodiversity; the air quality and overheating impacts resulting from the unconscionable act of cutting down nearly 1,000 mature trees in the name of climate change; the cost overruns and lack of M/WBE involvement deserve an honest public hearing as soon as possible.
Thank you for your continued commitment to the environment. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
East River Park ACTION
Tweet Corey Johnson: @NYCSpeakerCoJo
And the whole City Council
or call 212-564-7757 or 212-788-7210
East River Park Action held a week-long speakout in front of City Hall urging this hearing. Here are some clips and coverage:
East River Park Action protests Mayor’s plan to steamroll through ESCR plan
By Dean Moses, August 10, AMNY
…On July 27, park advocates rallied outside of Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office in a plea for the former mayoral candidate to decline signing off on the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project contract, and in what was a major win for activists, he returned the contract to the City’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) unsigned requesting further information.
However, last week the City registered the contract anyway. The East River Park Action says the mayor has overruled Stringer’s decision to wait for more information and the administration is attempting to move forward with the park reconstruction regardless.
Firing back, protesters descended upon City Hall Park on Aug. 9 where they admonished Mayor Bill de Blasio for continuing to have his sights firmly set on the project despite the Comptroller having yet to approve the development. (link to read the entire story)