Stories about East River Park and the East Side Coastal Resiliency Plan. To read about resiliency projects, climate change, environmental justice news from all over, see our Resiliency News page. To read the 21st Century history of East River Park and links to plans and documents, see our History and Resources page. Here’s the 2021 News page
Articles on this page are included if they have to do with East River Park and sustainability in the neighborhood. Partisan news may be included and is not an endorsement of any candidate. To read the complete article of any listed below, hit the link on the name of the publication.
New York City Tree MapExplore and Care For NYC’s Urban Forest
An interactive map of all the city’s trees. The map shows that East River Park still has more than 1,000 trees, but some 700 have been decimated by the city. On the map, most streets on the other side of the FDR adjacent to the park are gray–they don’t have the little green dots that show the locations of trees. The city is not doing justice to our Lower East Side.
‘Moving Too Slow’: City Lags on Federal Sandy Funds as Coastline Still Vulnerable, Lander Says
Nearing the 10th anniversary of deadly Superstorm Sandy, the city comptroller examines how much federal money various agencies have spent on rebuilding and resilience.
BY SAMANTHA MALDONADO, OCT. 13, 2022, THE CITY
City Hall has laid out only 13.3% of the total $1.9 billion budget for the Lower East Side’s East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, according to the comptroller’s report…
How NYC Politicians Destroyed East River Park – The Greenwashing of NYC Part 3
Sept. 30, 2022, Be the Change with Christine Dimmick
Guests Tommy Loeb and Allie Ryan of East River Park Action.
This October 22nd will be 10 years since much of NYC was devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
With millions of dollars in federal funding, it wasn’t until this past year that NYC started to take action on making downtown neighborhoods more resilient to ever increasing storms. The plans approved and forced on to residents by former Mayor De Blasio, with the support of our city council and current Mayor Adams- reads like a typical political playbook. How can we make things worse and spend billions of dollars doing so.
Mirrors in the Trees
by Marcella Durand, Sept. 28, 2022, Black Earth Institute
…the differences between projects that protect people against the effects of climate change and those that address the cause of climate change were artfully blurred. It became very clear that in New York City, the car still reigns, and when it comes to choosing traffic over trees, well, I learned there wasn’t really a choice in the first place….
Hot news — clear-cut East River Park is boiling!
BY PAT ARNOW, SEPTEMBER 11, 2022, THE VILLAGE SUN
Some intrepid members of East River Park ACTION and LES Breathe braved the outdoors despite heat advisories on Tues., Aug. 9. Wendy Brawer, Amy Berkov, Mary Jo Burke and I measured temperatures around the area of East River Park.
We started measurements at Corlears Hook Park because that’s where we could find grass and plantings and trees and get near construction work. We can’t get comparable measurements at the south end of East River Park because it is now mostly inaccessible and a hot mess. You won’t be surprised that the few spots of grassy shade were cooler.
Asbestos found in pipes at East River Park sparks concerns
By Ari Ephraim Feldman, Aug. 26, 2022, NY1
Construction crews working on the project to rebuild East River Park have paused demolition on the park’s amphitheater after discovering asbestos at the site.
City officials said the asbestos is limited to a small sub-basement structure underneath the amphitheater that they did not know existed prior to demolition, and do not expect to find further contamination elsewhere in the park.
Yet the discovery of the asbestos comes after activists who have long opposed the project raised concerns about dust and other particulate matter that have been carried by wind from the construction area into the residential neighborhoods alongside the park.
Kathryn Freed, an attorney and former city councilwoman who is part of a group that has brought lawsuits against the city to stop the project, said her group does not believe the city was unaware of the asbestos in the structure. Asbestos is a known carcinogen.
“Of course they knew about it,” Freed said. “They don’t give a damn about the health and the welfare of the residents of this city.”
Carlina Rivera and the Untold History of How East River Park Was Destroyed
John Tarleton, Aug. 23, 2022, The Indypendent
Carlina Rivera’s reinvention as a fearless truth teller and environmental hero only makes sense if you don’t know the history behind the East River Park’s destruction — the path not taken, the gaslighting of a community and the strip-mining of a neighborhood’s long-standing racial divides for political advantage.
Three Local Issues NY-10’s Next Member of Congress Could Actually Influence
A crumbling expressway, the threat of rising seas and missing funding for NYCHA: the problems vexing NY-10 and how the area’s next U.S. Representative could help
BY SHANTEL DESTRA AUG 18, 2022, THE CITY
Construction has already begun on one massive infrastructure project in Lower Manhattan — the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project — which was made possible with billions in federal funding. It has also been one of the most controversial, with many community members who remain against it protesting how former Mayor Bill de Blasio handled the plan, and the current demolition of East River Park, a waterfront park that is a favorite among residents of the Lower East Side.
As a City Council member in 2019, NY-10 candidate Rivera pushed for the approval of de Blasio’s ESCR — something those who oppose the project hold against her.
First TV debate in free-for-all NY-10 is a slugfest
Candidates hit one another over family fortunes, personal investments, controversial policies and strategic relocations.
By SALLY GOLDENBERG, 08/10/2022, Politico
The Congressional hopefuls also went after Rivera for her support for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project — a $1.45 billion effort to protect Lower Manhattan from future storm surges after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area and damaged thousands of homes. Most of her opponents said the plan, which is scheduled for completion in 2026, did not adequately account for local concerns over the temporary impact of raising the park eight feet above sea level.
“This was an issue that did not need to be as divisive as it became,” Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou, who represents Lower Manhattan, said. “The city was not transparent with our constituents, was very opaque in the way that they were answering folks.”
Jones tours barren East River Park, knocks Rivera, prioritizes L.G.B.T. housing at Elizabeth Street Garden
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, AUGUST 9, 2022, THE VILLAGE SUN
However, talking to The Village Sun after viewing the park, Jones said, “It is so clear when I speak to residents of the Lower East Side that they feel betrayed by Carlina Rivera. She promised that there would be community input. She went back on that. People talk about her breaking her word in the case of the big Tech Hub in Union Square.”
OP ED | GIVE NEW YORKERS BACK THEIR SHORELINES
BY SURAJ PATEL, AUGUST 2022, UNTAPPED NEW YORK
…All plans for increasing climate resiliency should be coupled with the goal of fighting climate change. My proposal to cap portions of the FDR Drive with green space and create a living shoreline, as opposed to the hardened or grey shoreline planned in the ESCR, would accomplish both of those goals while saving taxpayer money, creating sustainable jobs, and increasing economic growth.
Goldman, Jones: Community input is key for East Side Coastal Resiliency project; Jones accuses Rivera of ‘breaking her promise’
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, AUGUST 5, 2022, THE VILLAGE SUN
On Tuesday, former Trump impeachment attorney Dan Goldman visited Corlears Hook on the Lower East Side to hear from park activists and see what former City Councilmember Kathryn Freed termed “the devastation.” The nearly 50-acre park’s southern half has been completely bulldozed for the East Side Coastal Resiliency megaproject. The park is being clear-cut, in a two-phase job, in order to elevate it 8 feet to create a flood barrier.
In a House Race With Big Names, 2 Women With Local Ties Rise
Carlina Rivera, a Manhattan councilwoman, and Yuh-Line Niou, a state assemblywoman, are vying to defeat rivals who include current and former members of Congress.
By Dana Rubinstein, Aug. 5, 2022, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Ms. Rivera staunchly backs the ongoing effort to tear down and then rebuild East River Park at a higher elevation, to make the neighborhoods it abuts less vulnerable to storms like Hurricane Sandy. Protesters booed Ms. Rivera for that stance at a recent environmental forum, but on Monday she won the backing of the forum’s host — the New York League of Conservation Voters.
Ms. Niou took issue with the plan to make the area more resilient. “The city and the way that the city operated raise a lot of questions for me,” Ms. Niou said.
Be sure to read the comments section, much discussion of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project.
Opinion: Carlina Rivera… A view from the Lower East Side of a District 10 candidate
BY PAT ARNOW, JULY 29, 2022, THE VILLAGE SUN
East River Park was a much-used 1.2-mile-long waterfront oasis in a densely populated, modest part of Manhattan. Now most of the park is a vast dirt pile, demolished for an ill-advised flood-control project that will put a massive levee along the river.
Carlina Rivera pushed through the plan’s approval in the City Council despite widespread and sustained community opposition. Rivera ignored alternative solutions. Now that the project is underway, she has failed to demand meaningful oversight or accountability from the contractors or the city…
Losing our park unnecessarily is not the only reason to beware of this candidate.
Look at Carlina Rivera’s non-answer to a District 10 candidate questionnaire: Would she take real estate donations? “I have committed to vetting individuals and have pledged to not take fossil fuel, defense company or pharmaceutical monies.”
Did Rivera really believe there was no study? Did she mislead us or was she misled? Either way, she doesn’t look wise.
Eileen Myles chronicles a people’s history of East River Park
Document, July 5, 2022
People first started living here around 9,000 years ago, and the Lenape came in 6,000 years later. The first permanent inhabitants of the island, about 15,000 Lenape were here when the Dutch arrived and began colonizing. One Dutch governor, Willem Kieft, tasked himself with eliminating the Lenape entirely from Manhattan, in particular from the attractive cove of what we now call Corlears Hook, where he killed about a hundred in their sleep. The very spot of Kieft’s massacre was recently deforested by the city as part of what is known as the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, aka ESCR, which is described in the media and by the city’s press releases as a climate resiliency plan. A flood plan! Though many residents feel that it’s real estate, and nothing more. Well, actually, it’s ecocide and even genocide if you look at the big picture (health-wise) of where we live.
Eileen Myles Watches Over an Ever-Changing New York
Now guarding trees in Lower Manhattan, the poet and author of “Chelsea Girls” says: “Things that might have once been corny to me don’t feel corny anymore.”
By Alex Vadukul, May 18, 2022, New York Times
On a rainy spring morning, an old cherry tree was beginning to blossom in a little park along Cherry Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Several protesters surrounded the tree to protect it from the New York City workers who were about to cut it down. Police officers moved in, arrested the activists, and the sound of a chain saw filled the air. The tree went down.
“There it goes, the last cherry tree on Cherry Street,” said the 72-year-old poet Eileen Myles, who stood in the drizzle bearing witness to the scene.
City breaks promises on East River Park as Con Ed fells trees in northern half, air-monitoring reports withheld
BY KATHRYN FREED MAY 12, 2022, THE VILLAGE SUN
The city’s destruction of more than half of East River Park in the name of resiliency — and its ongoing activity, or lack thereof, in that area — continues to be the source of contention, anger and even fear in the Lower East Side.
A Letter from Eileen Myles to Save East River Park
May 12, 2022 By Eileen Myles, LitHub
Is there any precedent in modern times for a city spending more than 2 billion dollars in order to destroy (in the name of climate change!) a large beloved public park?
Doesn’t a park deserve justice? Aren’t the 100,000 + people who use it every year, play on its ballfields, fish, stroll its esplanade, look up at the sky, entitled to clean air, green space and trees.
City shrinks the size of the passive lawn in East River Park
EV Grieve, April 26, 2022
This past week, workers fenced off nearly half of the passive lawn in the area near Corlears Hook (at the site of the former composting yard).
This came without any notice via the city’s weekly Construction Bulletin. This week’s edition states that this is for “Ongoing site preparation, including clearing and grubbing.”
Activist goes out on a limb to try to save Corlears Hook tree
APRIL 25, 2022, BY THE VILLAGE SUN
But on Monday a tree sitter slowed down the carnage — at least for a while, that is, until eventually being arrested.
Barking up the wrong tree: Protester cuffed after attempting to halt East Side seawall project by climbing tree
By Dean Moses, April 25, 2022, AMNY
The NYPD told a tree climbing protester at the site of an East Side seawall construction project Monday to make like a tree and “leave.”
Work on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) was abruptly disrupted Monday when a disgruntled local climbed a tree to prevent it from being uprooted.
Bloom and doom: Workers saw down Corlears Hook cherry trees as poet is arrested
APRIL 11, 2022, BY THE VILLAGE SUN
Workers cut down the beautiful grove of cherry trees in Corlears Hook Park’s Cherry Hill on Monday. They had backed off Saturday in the face of protests that saw the arrest of Reverend Billy, the protesting performance-art preacher, and another park activist.
On Monday, poet Eileen Myles was also arrested while trying to block the chainsawing of the Lower East Side Park’s trees. But the workers finally succeeded in their destructive mission, felling the small forest of cherry trees.
The trees had only just recently started blooming.
Reverend Billy and one other arrested blocking tree cutters at Corlears Hook Park
APRIL 9, 2022, BY THE VILLAGE SUN
Park defenders stopped workers from fully cutting down any trees in Corlears Hook Park on Sunday morning as two protesters were arrested.
Billy Talen, the performance artist known as Reverend Billy, and Francis Pandolfino were led away from the Lower East Side park in handcuffs.
Protesters arrested after stalling NYC’s plan to chop down cherry trees at LES park
By Angela Barbuti and Conor Skelding, April 9, 2022, NY Post
It was a fruitful protest.
Two people were arrested Saturday morning as protesters successfully stalled the city’s efforts to chop down cherry trees at Corlears Hook Park near the Williamsburg Bridge.
William Talen, 71, and Francis Pondolfino, 64, were charged with criminal trespass and obstructing governmental administration after refusing commands to leave a fenced-in area at 6:55 a.m., cops said.
New York City’s first floodgate arrives on the East River waterfront
By Dean Moses, Feb. 28, 2022, AMNY
Nearly 10 years after Hurricane Sandy inundated much of Lower Manhattan, the East River waterfront received its first floodgate last week.
The $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) has been underway since November 2020 and aims to protect the Lower East Side from extensive flooding has seen some minor setbacks over the last several months…
$1.4 billion project to protect East Side from coastal flooding on schedule, but facing opposition from some residents
BY JENNA DEANGELIS, Feb. 24, 2022, CBS News
NEW YORK — Progress is being made on a $1.4 billion project to protect coastal neighborhoods on Manhattan’s East Side from flooding.
“This is a swing gate, it’s 36,000 pounds,” said NYC Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Thomas Foley.
Sarah Wellington and Rita Garcia are among residents who want the waterfront green space to be preserved.
“This city is intending to clear cut and demolish an entire 50-acre biodiverse park. You could see behind me right here, that the city already has clear cut over 500 healthy mature trees,” Wellington said.
“And replant saplings, which doesn’t make sense because it’s going to take another 50-80 years,” Garcia said…
Climate resiliency and equity: What NYC is planning for the next decade of its waterfront
BY NATHAN KENSINGER, Feb. 24, 2022, Gothamist
The city is rolling out a new batch of climate resiliency plans to shore up its coastlines affecting more than 8 million residents living along 520 miles of coastline and hundreds of neighborhoods built on creeks, wetlands and islands…
Corlears Hook Park Girds for Partial Closure and Coastal Resiliency Work
By Elie, February 23rd, 2022, Bowerie Boogie
Community Advisory notices were distributed last week alerting the community to the partial closure of Corlears Hook Park, including the flagpole area. Work in this area is scheduled to begin next Monday (February 28), during which time access to the park is limited to Jackson Street and the west entrances on Cherry Street.
The notice also promises that access to the Corlears Hook Ferry Terminal would remain unhindered via the Corlears Hook Bridge. However, the situation on the ground, at least for the time being, proves otherwise.
NYC Adaptation Project Becomes ‘Case Study in How Not To Do Things’
February 13, 2022, The Energy Mix
An uproar over a last-minute rewrite of a plan to protect Lower Manhattan from storm surge and sea level rise shows the importance of fully informed, effective community consultation in building climate resilience.
“They switched the plan after four years of consulting the community and actually co-designing a real resilience plan,” a resident local to the contentious New York City site told Grist. Quietly changing the plan at the last minute “fomented incredible mistrust,” said Harriet Hirshorn, who lives in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where part of the 57.5-acre East River Park was supposed to become a buffer from rising waters…
Field Notes: Land Grab
By Michaela Keil, February 2022, The Brooklyn Rail
“This is an absolute land grab,” says Katherine de la Cruz. During the afternoon of October 31, 2021, de la Cruz, and other activists from the 1000 People 1000 Trees movement and the East River Park Action community groups, gathered and spoke at Tompkins Square Park, on New York’s Lower East Side, in protest of then-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. The project, referred to as ESCR, plans to raze the 46-acre East River Park…
The Removal of the Delancey Foot Bridge to East River Park
By Elie, Feb. 2, 2022, Bowery Boogie
The city is now head-long into its demolition of the Delancey Street foot bridge into East River Park….
Mayor Adams combines a variety of NYC agencies into a new climate change-focused agency
By James Ford, Jan. 21, 2022, PIX11
While the city is still digging out from the weekend’s snowstorm, Mayor Eric Adams announced his new climate leadership team. He said that communities of color are most strongly affected by climate change, and that he’d chosen climate policy leaders that reflect those communities and their needs…
Baruch Houses activist Jasmin Sanchez makes a run for Assembly
BY DASHIELL ALLEN, JANUARY 16, 2022, The Village Sun
Jasmin Sanchez, a lifelong resident of the Baruch Houses on the Lower East Side, wants to become the first NYCHA tenant sent to Albany…
“Yes I’m for flood protections,” she said, referring to the debate over the hot-button East Side Coastal Resiliency plan. “But I do think that there should have been more thought in how they were going to roll this out, with tons of community input. At a C.B. 3 meeting there were 80 testimonies, 77 of them were against the destruction of the East River Park — that is resounding, that this project needs to be rethought.”
New York Definitely Doesn’t Need a Longer Manhattan
By Willy Blackmore, JAN. 14, 2022, Curbed
It goes without saying that New York City, built on a cluster of low-lying islands, will need to be reimagined and rebuilt in order to survive the climate crisis. The galaxy-brain proposal from Rutgers economist Jason Barr in a New York Times opinion piece published today calls for an entire neighborhood, dubbed New Mannahatta, to be constructed off of lower Manhattan…
OPINION: GUEST ESSAY
1,760 Acres. That’s How Much More of Manhattan We Need.
OPINION: GUEST ESSAY
By Jason M. Barr, Jan. 14, 2022, The New York Times
On Jan. 1, Eric Adams was sworn in as New York’s 110th mayor. He is now in charge of the city’s response to big, and growing, problems. One is a housing affordability crisis. Another concerns the ravages of climate change: sea level rise, flooding and storm surges.
There is a way to help tackle both issues in one bold policy stroke: expand Manhattan Island into the harbor…
The Decimated State of East River Park
It’s full throttle with East River Park demolition. Nothing now stands in the way of the $1.45 billion coastal resiliency project.
Tree stumps dot the park from East Houston to Corlears Hook, onetime green space which now resembles the blackened wasteland of a post-apocalyptic novel. In all, some 990 trees are being sawed into submission…
NYC Needs a Great Park Movement 2.0 to Stop Flooding, Not Caused by Climate Change but by Land & Water Neglect
By Gary Tilzer, Jan. 11, 2022, The Jewish Voice
After the debacle of the police blocking protesters trying to stop the cutting down of 1000 trees; after the community plan received federal funding to use proven natural ecological methods to prevent Sandy type storms flooding in their neighborhood to save the park and its trees; the former mayor’s plan to use failed 19th century walls to stop flooding to deliver more contracts to his developer friends, defeated the Eastside community’s plan with the muscle of the NYPD, not because his plan was better….
New York begins demolition of East River Park for new concrete storm barriers
By Aaron Smithson, January 4, 2022, The Architect’s Newspaper
The City of New York has neared completion of its demolition of the southern portion of East River Park, a green space that has served the Lower East Side for over eighty years. Originally constructed during Robert Moses’ tenure as the city’s controversial master builder, the park sits on waterfront land that government officials deemed critical for ongoing resilience projects in Lower Manhattan…
Years of community outreach and town hall meetings molded the idea into a plan that rested primarily on a sloped berm on the western edge of East River Park, abutting FDR Drive. Requiring an investment of around $760 million, the reinforced hill would be coated in grass, protecting the neighborhoods on the other side of the elevated highway from floodwaters. East River Park itself would be allowed to temporarily flood during major storm events–a strategy that reflects natural wetland landscapes and engineering techniques adopted in the low-lying Netherlands…
Wednesday, January 5, 2022
Tree sitters take to East River Park
Jan. 5, 2022, EV Greive
In the pre-dawn hours on Monday, a group of activists gathered in a blustery East River Park to continue to bring awareness to the destruction taking place as part of the $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency project.
Group members draped “Protect Me” banners on several of the oldest trees along the greenway just north of the active worksite that starts at Stanton Street… eventually, five people positioned themselves in the trees for several hours …
East River Amphitheater in Ruins After 80-Year Run
By Elie Perler, Jan. 3, 2022, Bowery Boogie
For East River Park, a happy new year it is not. The coastline amphitheater is gone – reduced to rubble in the name of resiliency – after an eighty-year run.
The bulldozers began uprooting the bench seating in early December. By last week, the entire structure was in ruins…
PHOTOS: NYC Says Goodbye To East River Park
BY NATHAN KENSINGER, Dec. 31, 2021, Gothamist
Starting in early December, the final month of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, the city decided to move forward on one of its largest climate infrastructure plans, the controversial $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR). Demolition crews began working around the clock to eliminate the southern half of East River Park, operating throughout the weekend in defiance of a temporary restraining order issued by a state appeals court judge.
The rushed destruction of this much-loved 82-year-old waterfront park was met with immediate outrage, condemnation and protests…