News that gives us insight into problems and solutions for East River Park: Floods, Environmental risks, Parkland and Fresh Air for Mental and Physical Health, Trees, Biodiversity, City Policies and Resiliency Solutions from Other Places
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The Panic Attack of the Power Brokers
The city’s “permanent government” has always built its way out of crisis. But what if it can’t?
by Andrew Rice, Oct. 13, 2020, New York Magazine/Curbed
New York has been in the cauldron before…the urban catastrophe of the 1970s…The population shrank by around a million residents…
In inflation-adjusted dollars, the city’s total bond and pension debt reached nearly $100 billion in the mid-1970s, and banks would no longer lend it money.
Back then, the real-estate families organized to save the city’s government — and their own financial interests — by prepaying a huge chunk of property taxes, helping to stave off municipal bankruptcy. The governor appointed an investment banker named Felix Rohatyn to work out the city’s bond debt — it’s still being paid off — and created the Financial Control Board, which wrested authority over the budget from the mayor. Ineffective elected officials were supplanted by an elite group of corporate and civic leaders, a cadre the Village Voice journalist Jack Newfield referred to as the “Permanent Government.” …
At least in its own mythology, it is the Permanent Government that asserts leadership in trying times. After 9/11, power over the rebuilding of lower Manhattan was handed to another appointed authority, led by John Whitehead, a retired chairman of Goldman Sachs. During the financial crisis of 2008, Mayor Michael Bloomberg — the living embodiment of the Permanent Government — engineered a onetime suspension of term limits so he could manage the city through the crisis. In each case, New York emerged strong and prosperous.
The key to the city’s resiliency, the members of the Permanent Government argue, is its devotion above all to economic growth and real-estate development…
[and now, during the pandemic] “These guys have a stake in the gloom-and-doom department,” said Alicia Glen, the former top economic-development official in the de Blasio administration. “Because by talking about how terrible it’s going to be, it legitimizes and empowers their vision: superrich white people coming to save the city again. I mean, that is so obnoxious.”
Click the link above to read more about the city’s Permanent Government. It sure explains why we’re having so much trouble changing the environmentally dimwitted minds of so-called progressive City Council and State government leaders. They are beholden to real estate, construction and corporate interests, not to their constituents. Really, the whole City Council should just declare themselves to be the sellout Republicans they already are.
These Wetlands Helped Stop Flooding From Sandy. Now a BJ’s May Move In.
A group of Staten Island residents concerned about climate change is challenging the project.
bt Anne Barnard, New York Times, Oct. 28, 2020
State and city authorities agree, having approved plans for the membership-only warehouse club chain and an 800-car parking lot on the site, part of the Graniteville Swamp. The decision has set off new wrangling over how best to handle development on Staten Island’s diverse, working-class northern tip.
Hot City: Unplanned by Design
New York City is steadily sinking into the sea. . .Is there not a plan for that?
by Samuel Stein, Aug. 7, 2020, Verso Books
So yes, there are many climate plans for New York City, and this is just a small sampling of them. But this multiplicity of plans and pathways – sometimes complimentary and sometimes contradictory, managed chaotically at multiple governmental scales without regard for the scale of ecological systems – also justifies the opposite answer. In other words, if there are so many separate plans, and so many city, state, and federal agencies pursuing them simultaneously without adequate coordination, is there really a plan at all?
Let Red Hook Breathe Says NYCHA Residents
by Ariama Long, Kings County Politics, July 28, 2020
So familiar–Flood protection being constructed in Red Hook, and it’s a mess.
“Screaming to ‘Let Red Hook Breathe,’ residents and public housing advocates demanded more playgrounds, clean air and water, the replanting of the neighborhood’s trees, more lighting, air and soil testing because of the neighborhood’s industrial history with toxic land use, and a better emergency response and fire safety plan for the community. “
“The work that they’re doing has incredible ends, said Menchaca, about the value of the recovery construction projects, but the means to get there has dragged the community.:
Opinion: Now More Than Ever, NYC Needs Nature, and NYC’s Nature Needs Funding
By Sarah Charlop-Powers and Emily Nobel Maxwell, City Limits, June 2, 2020
New York City isn’t often celebrated for its nature. But for those of us who work at the Natural Areas Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy, we know the city best for its impressive parks system, expansive natural areas, and urban forest. These pieces of parkland make city living more enjoyable and bearable, especially during a global pandemic. And we’re astounded that the city is proposing to significantly disinvest in its parks, just when they are needed the most.
Hurricanes are getting stronger, more dangerous and forming earlier. Here’s how we can prepare.
By Natalie Peyronnin Snider, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), May 20, 2020
Experts are predicting this year to be a very active hurricane season, and even more concerning, researchers from NOAA and the University of Wisconsin at Madison just released a study that found climate change is causing more intense and dangerous hurricanes.
In response to added complexities from the coronavirus, the National Hurricane Center updated storm surge maps and forecast timing to help emergency managers make more informed decisions sooner.
This year government leaders and emergency preparedness officials have to prepare for the potential double whammy of a hurricane making landfall in the midst of a global pandemic.
New York just took a huge step toward funding lasting climate resilience
By Mark Rupp, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), May 14, 2020
The bond will invest in natural infrastructure and nature-based solutions to restore wetlands and seashores, which help reduce flooding and coastal erosion, and have the added benefits of beautifying landscapes, creating recreational and job opportunities, and stimulating the economy.
How Cities Plan to Keep Traffic Out When Lockdowns Lift
Extended bike lanes and wider sidewalks are among solutions to keep car traffic down as people continue to avoid public transit
By Theresa Machemer, SMITHSONIANMAG.COM, MAY 21, 2020
“The pandemic challenges us, but it also offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance to change course and repair the damage from a century of car-focused streets,” says Janette Sadik-Khan, a former New York City transportation commissioner, to the BBC. Sadik-Khan now works with cities creating transportation recovery programs. “Cities that seize this moment to reallocate space on their streets to make it easier for people to walk, bike and take public transport will prosper after this pandemic and not simply recover from it.”
Millions of Americans lack access to quality parks, report reveals
Low-income households and people of color in cities are least likely to live near decent green spaces
Nina Lakhani, The Guardian, May 20, 2020
“Even within cities, access to green spaces…is inequitable, with low-income households and people of color least likely to live close to parks with basic amenities like bathrooms, playgrounds and basketball courts.”
That’s not true for our low-and-moderate income neighborhood. We have the glorious East River Park. But we will have less than half of it, and it’ll be noisy and dusty from construction, if the city goes ahead with its plan to demolish the park for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project. Bad timing!
“For environmental justice activists, there is some hope. The unprecedented crisis could enhance appreciation for parks – and encourage a wave of local activism to fight for fair access.”
In the Shadows of America’s Smokestacks, Virus Is One More Deadly Risk
By Hiroko Tabuchi, May 17, 2020, New York Times
“People with two conditions tied to air pollution, inflammatory lung disease and coronary heart disease, face a higher risk for severe Covid-19, preliminary research has shown. Last month, work by Harvard specialists found that coronavirus patients in areas with historically heavy air pollution are more likely to die than patients elsewhere.”
NYC’s New Plan Would Let Massive Sewage Overflows Continue
February 24, 2020 Larry Levine, NRDC
“On any given day in 2019, there was nearly a 50 percent chance that sewage pollution made it unsafe to touch the water somewhere in New York City. In fact, every year, around 20 billion gallons of untreated raw sewage and polluted runoff bypass the city’s sewage treatment plants and get dumped into the water along the shoreline in all five boroughs.”
The $1.45 billion ESCR flood control plan for East River Park will do nothing to alleviate the problem. The massive sewer project will just hold the untreated storm surge water in parallel conveyances and then dump the sewage into the river. Another example of the city officials saying they care about the environment and then spending a lot of money to keep it screwed up.
Cities Fighting Climate Woes Hasten ‘Green Gentrification’
Seawalls, parks, and elevated buildings can protect against rising tides. But they can also push the price of housing up, and longtime residents out.
Adam Rogers, Feb. 2020, Wired
“…when poorer neighborhoods get water-absorbing green space, storm-surge-proof seawalls, and elevated buildings, all of a sudden they aren’t so poor anymore. The people who lived there—who would’ve borne the brunt of whatever disasters a changing climate will bring—get pushed out in favor of new housing built to sell at or above market rates to people with enough money to buy not just safety but a beautiful new waterfront. In real estate lingo, “adaptations” are also “amenities,” and the pursuit of those amenities ends up displacing poor people and people of color. The phenomenon has a name: green gentrification.”
NYC’s coastline could be underwater by 2100. Why are we still building there?
How New York City can incorporate managed retreat into its plans to fight climate changeBy Emily Nonko Jan 2, 2020, Curbed
“Now, there’s a desire to utilize this highly-valued land and not prohibit development,” Liz Koslov, [assistant professor of Urban Planning and Environment and Sustainability at UCLA], explains. “Then for the city to protect people already living in places like the lower East Side, what pays for protective infrastructure and adaptation is more development.”
Yeah, that’s what we’re afraid of.
Benefits of Trees
Erv Evans, North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Trees of Strength (Facts below come from a no-longer-working web page by the same author–the link here provides similar information.)
Many wonderful facts about what trees do for the environment, including:
- A tree can be a natural air conditioner. The evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of 10 room size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.
- A well placed tree can reduce noise by as much as 40 percent.
- Trees help settle out and trap dust, pollen and smoke from the air. The dust level in the air can be as much as 75 percent lower on the sheltered side of the tree compared to the windward side.
- Trees absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, from the air and release oxygen.
How Hurricane Sandy flooded New York back to its 17th century shape as it inundated 400 years of reclaimed land
By SNEJANA FARBEROV, Daily Mail, 15 June 2013
MAYOR SUPPORTS DEVELOPMENT POISED TO DEVASTATE BROOKLYN BOTANIC GARDEN
by Ben Verde, Feb. 10, 2020, Brooklyn Paper,
“Mayor Bill de Blasio undermined the expert opinion of professional green thumbs, architects, and executives at Brooklyn Botanic Garden during an appearance on the Brian Lehrer show on Feb. 7, when he suggested that building a massive residential complex a stones throw away from the beloved horticultural museum would cause no serious injury to its collection of rare and exotic plants. “
A Storm-Resilient Park in Queens
by Karim Doumar, Oct. 24, 2018, City Lab
By replacing Long Island City’s industrial waterfront with native grasses, Hunters Point South Park stands ready to withstand any storm surge.
Seaport Section Remains Big Question Mark in NYC’s Flood Control Plans
By Neil deMause, City Limits, Nov. 6, 2019
The story includes plans for Battery Park. See, New York know how to build a resilient park: “To protect from storm surge, a raised bike path will be built in the inland part of the park, allowing most of the park to remain closer to river level, since a park can survive storm-surge flooding mostly unscathed.”
On Your Bike, Watch Out for the Air
By Richard Schiffman, New York Times, 2017
“…bicyclists in lanes that are separated from active traffic by a row of parked cars breathe in a lot less pollution than those who use bike lanes adjacent to the traffic.”
And surely much less pollution when on the promenade at East River Park, a major bike commuting route that we will lose if the city tears down the park next year.
The rain in Spain: how an ancient Arabic technique saves Alicante from floods
“To protect itself from destructive flooding, the city has built a park designed to store and recycle rainwater” The Guardian
Now that’s resiliency. €3.7 million to build and €50,000 a year to maintain. C’mon New York, get creative.
Summer in the City Is Hot, but Some Neighborhoods Suffer More
By Nadja Popovich and Christopher Flavelle, New York Times, Aug 9, 2019
“As the United States suffers through a summer of record-breaking heat, new research shows that temperatures on a scorching summer day can vary as much as 20 degrees across different parts of the same city, with poor or minority neighborhoods often bearing the brunt of that heat.”
“Buildings and paved surfaces – like major roadways, uncovered parking lots and industrial zones – amplified heat, while large parks and other green spaces cooled down the surrounding areas.”
Think about the temperatures for the East Village and Lower East Side will be when 981 mature trees and all the greenery in East River Park are destroyed next year!
Tree planting ‘has mind-blowing potential’ to tackle climate crisis
The Guardian, July 2019
Planting billions of trees is a good, inexpensive way to stall climate change. Instead of cutting down the 980 matures trees in East River Park, New York should be thinking of ways to preserve most of the park and plant more trees.
How Much Nature Is Enough? 120 Minutes a Week, Doctors Say
New York Times, June 13, 2019, By Knvul Sheikh
“It’s a medical fact: Spending time outdoors, especially in green spaces, is good for you.”
The Healing Power of Gardens
by Oliver Sacks, the late great neurologist and writer, New York Times Magazine, April 18, 2019
“The role that nature plays in health and healing becomes even more critical for people working long days in windowless offices, for those living in city neighborhoods without access to green spaces, for children in city schools or for those in institutional settings such as nursing homes. The effects of nature’s qualities on health are not only spiritual and emotional but physical and neurological.”
Friends of Fort Greene Park Tree Page
Here are links to many articles about the benefits of trees, urban heat island effect, the effect of trees on asthma and upper respiratory diseases, and more. This is a great organization fighting against the city’s plan to remove trees and grass to install a concrete plaza and saplings in their park. Sound familiar? It is. Here is their home page.
Seven Years After Sandy, Slow Moves Toward Resiliency in High-Risk Nabes
José Cardoso, City Limits, July 1, 2019
(City Council member Mark) Treyger believes vulnerable neighborhoods in the outer boroughs have not received as much attention as they should. “The city has invested more of its own resources in Manhattan than it has in other parts of the city,” he said. “The city of New York is investing hundreds of millions of dollars of its capital budget for Manhattan,” he says. “In Southern Brooklyn, they are giving us some resources but nothing on the grand scale of comprehensive approaches that you’ve seen in other parts of the city.”
Rebuilt Wetlands Can Protect Shorelines Better Than Walls
by Rowan Jacobsen, Scientific American, 2019
“Fortified wetlands can protect shorelines better than hard structures.” This needs to be taken into account for ESCR flood protection. The current plan is a hard structure.
Dan Tishman is one of the construction industry’s leading men, but his close ties to the governor have sparked pushback from critics
May 2017, The Real Deal
All about Tishman construction, now owned by AECOM, which is reconstructing East River Park, including a nonjudgmental description of “pay to play” ties with Cuomo and Albany.
Follow AECOM, the construction company rebuilding East River Park
Proximity to Urban Parks and Mental Health
Roland Sturm and Deborah Cohen, J Mental Health Policy Econ, 2014
Mental health is significantly related to residential distance from parks, with the highest MHI-5 scores among residents within short walking distance from the park (400m) and decreasing significantly over the next distances. The number of visits and physical activity minutes are significantly and independently related to distance, although controlling for them does not reduce the association between distance and mental health