Stories about East River Park and the East Side Coastal Resiliency Plan. To read the full story, click on the link with the name of the media outlet. To read about resiliency projects, climate change, environmental justice news from all over, see our Resiliency News page.
wbai.org/archive, scroll down to Eco-Logic for 12/24 at 14:30 pm
East River Park Construction Resumes After City Claims Victory in Lawsuit
December 19, 2021, The Lo-Down
ou can expect work to resume at East River Park in the coming week, where crews are continuing to demolish familiar features of the 82-year-old recreational space. New York’s Court of Appeals dismissed on Thursday a legal challenge that had thrown the future of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project into question.
In a three-line ruling, the court dismissed the appeal from the local group, East River Action, and also denied a motion to hold the city in contempt for continuing demolition while a temporary restraining order was in effect.
In an email to supporters, East River Action’s Pat Arnow said, “It is with great sorrow and fury that I report that the city can finish demolition of East River Park with impunity… Now many of us are mourning hard. Yet we will not stop holding this city accountable for this environmental and social disaster wreaked upon the Lower East Side.”
‘You don’t speak for us’: Pro-resiliency plan rally slams park defenders
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, DECEMBER 18, 2021, THE VILLAGE SUN
Opponents of the East River Park resiliency plan have been making lots of noise lately. Though, admittedly, it’s been hard to hear them at times over the angry roar of chainsaws and bulldozers destroying the historic park’s trees.
At a Friday rally, Councilmember Carlina Rivera, local public-housing leaders, housing advocates and politicos clapped back. Pumping up the volume on their end, they declared that the opponents don’t speak for the community — at least not the one most directly impacted by Hurricane Sandy’s flooding nine years ago. The name of the ad hoc group behind the rally, the Frontline Communities Coalition, expresses the idea of being the ones hardest hit.
The pointless demolition of Manhattan’s East River Park
BY Eileen Myles, December 17, 2021, ARTFORUM
DURING A NORMAL YEAR one hundred thousand people recreate and run through East River Park in Lower Manhattan. Nobody has the numbers from the worst of the pandemic but it’s probably double. Painter and former drag star Tabboo! enjoyed working out there in that fenced-in gym off the running track I myself have made use of since 1978.
Appeals court clears way for $1.5B project to weatherproof Lower Manhattan
By Priscilla DeGregory, December 16, 2021, NYPost
New York’s highest court has cleared the way for a massive $1.5 billion anti-flood construction project that will raise a waterfront park in Manhattan by 8 feet.
Judge named for a tree chops down legal challenges to East River Park resiliency project
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, DECEMBER 16, 2021, THE VILLAGE SUN
A Court of Appeals judge on Thursday made quick work of legal challenges to the East River Park resiliency project.
As fast as hard hats have been felling the park’s venerable trees, Justice Rowan D. Wilson chopped down an appeal of the lawsuit East River Park ACTION et al v. the City of New York. He also denied a motion for a stay to block the park work, rejecting the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ arguments as “academic.”
City wins East River Park lawsuit that had delayed resiliency construction
By Ari Ephraim Feldman, Dec. 16, 2021, NY1
New York’s appeals court handed New York City a victory Thursday in a drawn-out legal battle over the plan to demolish East River Park and rebuild it on eight feet of fill as a flood barrier for Manhattan’s Lower East Side, ending an activist group’s attempt to stop the project.
In a terse, 20-word ruling, the court rejected allegations that the city side-stepped state law by not seeking a vote approving the plan in the state legislature. Judges in earlier phases of the suit had already ruled in the city’s favor twice.
WBAI interview with IV Castellanos, about the City’s destruction of East River Park and defiance of the State’s Temporary Restraining Order. (TRO)
City Begins Demolition of Historic East River Amphitheater, Birthplace of Shakespeare in the Park
By Elie Perler, December 16, 2021, Bowery Boogie
Demolition of East River Park continues unhindered, and in plain view of the public. The latest big job was the destruction of the historic East River Amphitheater.
Protesters object to ongoing work at East River Park
By Briella Tomassetti, December 14, 2021, FOX 5 NY
NEW YORK – Activists armed with signs and printouts of court orders stood outside construction gates at Manhattan’s East River Park. They attempted to halt construction on the city’s controversial East Side Coastal Resiliency Project for the fifth day in a row.
Video of the story
CYNICAL DISCOURSE And The Destruction Of The East River Park
December 13, 2021, Jana Leo, fundacionmosis.com
The “cynical discourse” in this case is the claim of resilient recovery for a beloved park that is being demolished before our eyes.
As East River Park destruction continues, judge orders city to prove it’s not in contempt of court
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, DECEMBER 14, 2021, The Village Sun
The infernal roar of chainsaws and construction machines in East River Park lessened a bit Monday afternoon after a judge signed an order for the de Blasio administration to show how it is not in contempt of court. Yet the destruction still has not stopped, with a renegade crew continuing to slash a path of obliteration through the historic park.
City Defies Court Order with Round-the-Clock Weekend Tree Cutting in East River Park
December 13, 2021, Bowery Boogie
This past weekend was one of broken limbs and court orders in East River Park.
City Demolition Of East River Park Underway In Violation Of Court Order, Protesters Say
By Sophia Chang, Dec. 11, 2021, Gothamist
City workers continued demolishing trees at the East River Park as part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project on Saturday, drawing the ire of advocates who say the city is violating a temporary restraining order that should have halted all work at the park.
Protesters confronted one contractor near the site early Saturday and tried to hand out copies of the restraining order, according to videos posted to social media.
The city defied the temporary restraining order to cease resiliency work – mandated by the highest court in New York State in the ongoing community lawsuit – the last three days by arriving early morning to chainsaw the trees.
Through chainsaws and woodchips: Inside the East Side war over coastal resiliency project at waterfront park
By Dean Moses, Dec. 12, 2021, AM New York
Residents on the East Side are continuing their war with the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and the New York City Parks Department over the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) amidst what they claim to be illegal construction following the issue of a temporary restraining order.
In the last of the day’s dying light on Dec. 10, they clung to the chain link fence — fingertips interlocked with the mesh — and pleaded for the construction to stop…
Three more resiliency-project resisters arrested as de Blasio’s destruction of East River Park continues
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, DECEMBER 13, 2021, THE VILLAGE SUN
It was more chop around the clock in East River Park on Sunday as workers stayed in overdrive mode, intent on wreaking as much destruction as possible over the weekend before Monday morning’s crucial court hearing.
And there were more arrests, too, among the resiliency resistance. Three park defenders were cuffed at the amphitheater after slipping in behind the construction fence there.
Judge Issues Temporary Restraining Order, East River Park Work Goes on Regardless
December 12, 2021, THE LO-DOWN
It was a busy and dramatic week in East River Park as the legal skirmishes continued over the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. The long-delayed project got underway on Monday in a section of the park below Stanton Street, but came to an abrupt halt on Wednesday when the New York State Court of Appeals issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). The city resumed demolition on Friday and crews have been on the job throughout the weekend.
De Blasio in ‘contempt of court,’ attorneys say, as workers keep chainsawing trees in East River Park over weekend
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, DECEMBER 11, 2021, THE VILLAGE SUN
Lawyers desperately trying to stop Mayor de Blasio from destroying East River Park plan to file a “motion for contempt” with the Court of Appeals first thing on Monday morning.
However, before then, the city appears determined to ensure there won’t be much left to save. Early Saturday morning, workers were right back in the park — guarded by police — to continue the job of killing every living thing in the park’s entire southern half.
‘Tree-Kill Bill’: Workers start chopping down trees in East River Park again despite court order
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, DECEMBER 10, 2021, THE VILLAGE SUN
To park activists’ horror, workers began cutting down trees in East River Park again early Friday morning, just two days after the Court of Appeals had seemingly issued a stay to stop the destruction.
NYC continues to cut down trees at East River Park despite court order
By Steven Vago and Melissa Klein, December 11, 2021, NYPost
City workers took chainsaws to tree limbs at Manhattan’s East River Park Saturday despite a court order halting the massive construction project.
Opponents of the $1 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency project, which will rebuild the park to prevent flooding, secured the temporary restraining order Wednesday from the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.
Protesters clash with police over Coastal Resiliency Project at East River Park
By Dana Arschin, December 10, 2021, Manhattan FOX 5 NY
NEW YORK – Protesters clashed with police Friday while opening up construction gates at East River Park. A big city project is now underway to create storm resiliency along part of Manhattan’s east side, where 100,000 people live.
City resumes East River Park work despite judge’s order
By Ari Ephraim Feldman, New York City, UPDATED 1:04 PM ET Dec. 10, 2021 PUBLISHED 11:10 AM ET Dec. 10, 2021, NY1
The city resumed construction Friday in their planned effort to rebuild East River Park as a coastal flood barrier two days after an appeals court judge’s new ruling in a lawsuit against the plan indicated that the city should temporarily pause all demolition efforts.
We named this green space ‘NYC’s best park’ the same day the city started demolishing it—here’s why
East River Park deserves a better plan
Will Gleason, Thursday December 9 2021, TimeOutNY
Oddly, the link stopped working Dec. 10. ????
…Yesterday, a temporary restraining order was issued to halt the rushed destruction of the park which remains in place until December 20. Eighteen trees were already torn down before the order went into effect, but 973 remain.
Court of Appeals judge temporarily blocks NYC anti-flood project
By Priscilla DeGregory, Dec. 8, 2021, NY Post
A judge has temporarily blocked construction from going forward in a Manhattan park as part of the massive $1.5 billion construction project to prevent flooding.
A group of residents and activists have been fighting to stop construction at the East River Park as part of the city’s East Side Coastal Resiliency Project — an anti-flooding plan to span 2.4 miles of the east side of Manhattan — claiming it will harm the public green space.
High court halts city from cutting down East River Park trees for coastal-resiliency project
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, DECEMBER 8, 2021, THE VILLAGE SUN
On Wednesday morning, opponents fighting the East Side Coastal Resiliency project cheered as their attorney obtained a stay blocking further work on the contentious project.
The day before, though, park activists had watched in horror as workers either cut or “dismembered” 13 trees in East River Park, felling some completely while shearing the branches off others, leaving them ghostly, ruined trunks.
Best Park: East River Park
Best of the City Awards, Dec. 7, 2021, Time Out NY
After another year that saw New Yorkers spend more time outside in parks and green spaces than ever before, it was hard to narrow it down to just one space in the city deserving of the accolade of “Best Park of the Year!” However, this narrow waterfront park, found at the easternmost edge of the East Village and Lower East Side, takes the cake thanks to the impassioned “Save East River Park” campaign which attempted to stop the city from executing a misguided plan to address sustainability concerns by razing much of the existing park and covering it with eight feet of fill. The impassioned community response shows just how vital this public space is in the lives of many New Yorkers (even if the city seems to be moving ahead on the plan regardless).
City Preps East River Park Demolition Ahead of Coastal Resiliency Project
December 6, 2021, Bowery Boogie
It has come to this. The southern section of East River Park is now fenced off, ready for its destruction and rebirth.
Barely a week after a temporary restraining order in place since November was overturned on appeal, the city is now ready to begin resiliency work inside East River Park. Fences are up and trees will be felled in the coming days.
Outspoken activists remain pitted against the billion-dollar plan. The East River Park ACTION group sounded the clarion call for a “defend” action this morning.
3 climate activists arrested while protesting removal of trees from East River Park
by Michelle Ross, Dec. 6, 2021, Pix11
LOWER EAST SIDE, Manhattan — About 1,000 trees are set to be destroyed and removed from East River Park as part of the city’s resiliency plan and climate activists are strongly pushing against it.
Three activists were arrested Monday morning in an attempt to delay construction by trying to stop the workers from building a fence. Summonses were issued as a result.
Half Of East River Park Closed To Public As Flood Protection Project Begins
BY JAKE OFFENHARTZ, Dec. 6. 2021, Gothamist
The contentious plan to demolish and rebuild East River Park, a key climate priority for the de Blasio administration that’s prompted legal challenges and neighborhood uproar, is officially underway.
Construction crews arrived at the park on Monday morning, fencing off most of its southern half between Corlears Hook and Houston Street. The work marks the start of a sweeping five-year plan to bury the entirety of the 2.2 mile green space under eight feet of landfill and build a new park on top of it.
East River Park activists cuffed for blocking flood protection construction, again
By Dean Moses, Dec. 6, 2021, AMNY
East River Park activists blocked the resuming construction of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR), leading to three individuals cuffed.
The ESCR Project has been hitting one bump in the road after another while on course to revamping the Lower Manhattan parkland. On Nov. 1, the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) finally began its plan to implement flood protection before being halted by an Appellate Division legal appeal filed on behalf of around 100 Lower East Side residents. However, the court ultimately sided with the climate construction project, allowing the DDC to resume work.
Opinion: East River Park demolition is a failure of city officials
BY PAT ARNOW, DECEMBER 5, 2021, The Village Sun
…Ever since the park’s complete destruction was announced in the fall of 2018, thousands of people, mostly from our Lower East Side and East Village, have earnestly and fervently been civically engaged to gain a flood plan that would retain and improve our park. We had good evidence that better, more truly resilient plans were possible that would gain us the same flood control. We uncovered more good evidence after many Freedom of Information requests and appeals.
It did not matter. No amount of reason and hearty civic engagement could move city officials. None of our testimonies, petitions, protests, e-mails and phone calls mattered. The politicians and city agencies were determined to push this fatally flawed plan down our throats and were just annoyed when we loudly choked…
City to close East River Park’s southern half and entire bikeway
BY THE VILLAGE SUN, DECEMBER 3, 2021
Following the defeat earlier this week of a legal appeal to block the bullozing of East River Park for a resiliency project, the city promptly announced it is moving forward with work in the park’s southern portion, plus closing down the park’s entire bikeway.
What Does It Mean to Save a Neighborhood?
Nine years after Hurricane Sandy, residents of Lower Manhattan are still vulnerable to rising seas. The fight over a plan to protect them reveals why progress on our most critical challenges is so hard.
By Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, December 2, 2021
…In the debate over what is officially called John V. Lindsay East River Park, I sensed there might be some useful lessons about how we got here and how we might try to think differently. The park saga is not a conflict between bad versus good actors, but a confluence of different interests, different areas of expertise, different notions of community. It is a parable of progress…
NYC’s partially halted anti-flood plan can move forward: appeals court
By Priscilla DeGregory, November 30, 2021, NY POST
Construction on part of a massive $1.5 billion project to protect Manhattan from flooding that had been temporarily halted can now go forward, an appeals court ruled Tuesday.
East River Park Feature
Marcella Durand, Emily Johnson, Eileen Myles, and Nataneh River, The Poetry Project Newsletter #266, Fall, 2021
…I actually shrieked when I came upon a slightly larger grayish bird in the grasses at my feet. It flew over to an oak tree and its gray resolved to a more beautiful nuanced lime-yellow-salmon color—the indefinable color of cedar waxwings. Its tail feathers dipped in gold. We looked at each other for a good long time… — Marcella Durand
…Do you remember when you came to build this (monument) this (concrete levee) and found our bones in the ground?… — Emily Johnson
…But that tree, one of 991 trees in the park, I first stretched my leg on in 1978 is still there. But not for long. So let me return to the terrible time of the present…– Eileen Myles
…to stand against this city
sit against this city
sleep against this city
speak against this city
is to birth life
to be earth tree trunk canoe in water … — Nataneh River
Lawsuit: East Side resiliency project ‘a profound act of discrimination’
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, NOVEMBER 16, 2021, The Village Sun
A new lawsuit in the fight over East River Park charges that Mayor de Blasio and his administration are not promoting equity but — just the opposite — massive discrimination via the contract awarded for the park’s embattled coastal-resiliency project.
Filed last Friday in State Supreme Court by Village District Leader Arthur Schwartz, the lawsuit charges de Blasio and the City of New York with falling “far short” of meeting city, state and federal Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (M.W.B.E.) hiring mandates.
The plaintiffs include The Black Institute and its president, Bertha Lewis; the Women Empowerment Coalition of NYC and East River Park ACTION.
NYC’s anti-flood plan doesn’t have enough minority, female-biz involvement: lawsuit
By Priscilla DeGregory, Nov. 15, 2021, NY Post
A nearly $1.5 billion contract to protect Manhattan from flooding is all wet when it comes to making good on the city’s pledge to involve minority- and women-owned businesses, a new lawsuit alleges.
Plaintiffs including the Black Institute and the Women Empowerment Coalition of NYC, Inc. claim that the $1.45 billion contract the city signed with IPC Resiliency Partners for the project fails to meet city and federal hiring-quota goals, according to a Manhattan Supreme Court suit Monday…
After court orders construction pause, city faces new East River Park lawsuit
BY ARI EPHRAIM FELDMAN, November 15, 2021, Spectrum News|NY1
NEW YORK — New York City is confronting mounting legal pressure over its plan to rebuild Manhattan’s East River Park as a flood barrier, including one that has already resulted in a temporary pause to construction, more than half a year after work was set to get underway.
On Friday, a nonprofit sued the city for allegedly not including enough minority- and women-owned businesses in the construction contract…
Hot action at East River Park tennis courts as golf carts are torched
BY THE VILLAGE SUN, November 15, 2021
Passions have been flaring over the city’s contentious plan to bulldoze East River Park for an anti-flooding project. Last Friday evening, a pair of golf carts in the park also flared.
Around 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 12, flames were seen shooting into the sky as the two mini-vehicles, parked on the tennis courts at the Brian Watkins Tennis Center, were consumed by a raging orange blaze…
NYC’s anti-flood plan doesn’t have enough minority, female-biz involvement: lawsuit
By Priscilla DeGregory, November 15, 2021, NY Post
A nearly $1.5 billion contract to protect Manhattan from flooding is all wet when it comes to making good on the city’s pledge to involve minority- and women-owned businesses, a new lawsuit alleges.
East River Park Action is a party in the lawsuit.
On Sunday, a rally for the restoration of 2 East River Park structures
Nov. 12, 2021, EVGrieve
The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative (LESPI) has been working to protect the circa-1938 Art Deco Track House and Tennis Center Comfort Station in East River Park.
Both structures are eligible for the State and National Registers of Historic Places by the New York State Historic Preservation Office. However, the city plans to demolish them and replace them with new, more generic structures (seen in the rendering above) as part of the $1.45-billion East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project.
From the comments section: Don’t stop at saving the historic buildings. Many of the 991 trees slated for death are 80 years old and keep our air breathable and blunt the pollution of the FDR. That park is necessary for our health and well being: it was built specifically to offset the FDR. Without those mature, historic, gorgeous, remarkable, wonderful trees, we won’t have oxygen, shade, rain diversion, or carbon offset. They deserve landmarking too! (And no, the saplings planned as replacements will not offset pollution nearly as much as the adults–older is better, and rare in our city.) Our politicians don’t care about the climate or our health–they only care about their continued fundraising from real estate and construction interests. Save East River Park!
New York is about to raze a LES park
letter by John Plenge, Nov. 11 2021, NY Daily News
Manhattan: I am writing to you as a concerned father, educator and resident of a community that is about to be on the unhealthy receiving end of an environmentally unjust and flawed plan to destroy the only sizable park in the Lower East Side.
Fifty-eight acres, 1,000 mature trees, thousands of living creatures and all the open, biodiverse green spaces of East River Park, that people in the underserved LES community of NYC rely on for clean air and recreation are set to be bulldozed. All to build a flawed, environmentally destructive flood control levee and all with no environmental oversight or transparency.
I have been following all the recent coverage in your paper of the many prescient environmental topics around the world. Did you know there is a 58-acre public park about to be destroyed in the LES? There are red-tailed hawks, two barred owls, monarch butterflies, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, possums, Canadian geese and many other living creatures living in this 82-year-old natural green space. It is about to be bulldozed and chainsawed out of existence and covered in 8-10 feet of toxic landfill, then glazed over with green-painted cement, plastic AstroTurf and sapling “islands.” It is an environmental injustice being doled out to a community that does not have the clout and power of the Central Park, Riverside Park or West Side Hudson River Park zip codes, but it is equally as natural and untamed a habitat.
With the rest of the world planting trees and promoting green spaces, our city leaders are embarrassingly going in the exact opposite direction.
East River Park stop-work order still in effect with two more lawsuits headed to court
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, NOVEMBER 8, 2021, The Village Sun
The bulldozers and chainsaws are still being kept at bay in East River Park — at least for now — as a temporary restraining order continues to hold.
East River Park Activists Score Temporary Restraining Order to Halt Resiliency Project
November 5th, 2021, by Elie, Bowery Boogie
In East River Park, the demolition is on pause. Activists locked in a lawsuit with the city against the $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resilience Plan scored a temporary injunction yesterday to stop work.
Court blocks demolition of East River Park pending lawsuit appeal
NOVEMBER 4, 2021, BY THE VILLAGE SUN
Hold your horses — and your chainsaws! The Appellate Division on Thursday granted a temporary restraining order on demolition work in East River Park that will remain in effect through at least next Mon, Nov. 8.
WBAI interview with Arthur Schwartz, discussing ESCR lawsuits
Two Activists Arrested as City Begins East River Park Demolition for Coastal Resiliency
Bowery Boogie, Nov. 2, 2021
The battle between activists and the city spilled into East River Park yesterday, as construction officially commenced on the southerly leg of the East Side Coastal Resilience Project.
City Council candidate Allie Ryan arrested trying to block demolition of East River Park
By Lincoln Anderson, Nov. 1, 2021, The Village Sun
City Council candidate Allie Ryan and another woman were arrested by police Monday around 2 p.m. as they and a group of protesters were trying to block demolition of the East River Park tennis courts, part of the start of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project…
Stop the East River Park chainsaws: De Blasio should halt plans that begin today
By KAREN LOEW, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |NOV 01, 2021
…In the final months of his two terms, Mayor de Blasio now has the chance to avoid creating just such a low point in collective memory of his mayoralty. The East Side Coastal Resiliency project (ESCR) is slotted for substantial work beginning today, Monday, Nov. 1. As of now, the scope of that work includes the felling of 1,000 mature and healthy trees in East River Park.
This cannot happen. A wholesale sacrifice of irreplaceable public property may not be enacted by a city government without grave public deliberation — something that in this case has not taken place, as retired Judge Kathryn Freed, a former City Council member from the 1st District downtown, recently wrote in this newspaper. A 2022 deadline that’s part of the current equation can be changed; it’s man-made, after all. It already was extended, and need not warp the entire ESCR project. When we are literally crafting our future experience, we must prize quality over speed. Halt the chainsaws!
Protesters Block Construction In East River Park
Nov. 1, 2021 CBS2 News At 5
America’s dirty divide — The battle over a vast New York park: is this climate resilience or capitalism?
By Edward Helmore, Oct.31, 2021, The Guardian
A strip of land that borders New York’s East River has become the latest environmental justice battle as the city prepares to start construction on a flood prevention project in one of Manhattan’s most economically disadvantaged and diverse communities.
East River Park, which covers 57.5 acres and loops around lower Manhattan like a hockey stick, is about the only waterfront green space within walking distance of the Lower East Side’s public housing. During Hurricane Sandy, both the park and much of the nearby housing were significantly damaged by historic levels of flooding
Activists tell a scary Halloween story in their fight against East Side Coastal Resiliency Project
by Dean Moses, AMNY, Nov. 1, 2021
Hundreds gathered at Tompkins Square Park for a Halloween march many say could be their last chance to save their park.
For several years now, a group of Lower East Side residents and activists have been at war with the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) over what is best for the East River Park and those who call the area home. On one side, the DDC and several elected officials say the East Side Resiliency Project would completely renovate East River Park while simultaneously fortifying the area from future coastal storms. Opponents of the project, however, say the project will destroy the park as they know it, resulting in the loss of hundreds of trees.
Marcha de Halloween contra el rediseño del East River Park
NY1 Noticias Nov. 1, 2021
Activistas y vecinos del Lower East Side realizaron una marcha de Halloween para protestar contra el plan de la ciudad que busca rediseñar el East River Park.
La remodelación es parte del Proyecto de Resiliencia de la Costa Este (ESCR, por sus siglas en inglés) que fue aprobado por el Concejo en el 2019.
Attorney argues East River Park project is floodwall first, requires state approval
OCTOBER 30, 2021
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, Village Sun
East River Park is dying — at least that’s according to a city attorney fighting a community lawsuit over the fate of the 60-acre park.
Park activists, though, couldn’t disagree more strongly with that spin, and are continuing to battle against a first-of-its-kind resiliency megaproject that really would kill the existing waterfront park.
‘What’s old is new again’: NYC Parks celebrates the redesign of Waterside Pier
By Haeven Gibbons, October 26, 2021, AMNY
On Monday, NYC Parks celebrated the redesigned Waterside Pier along Manhattan’s East River Esplanade.
The redesign of “New Wave Pier” has transformed the grey, underutilized concrete walkway into a colorful waterfront space. The pier spans from E. 38th to E. 41st streets. The esplanade offers views of the East River and neighboring Long Island City, Queens.
“What’s old is new again,” said Gabrielle Fialkoff, NYC parks commissioner, in a press release from NYC Parks. “Our retro-fitted Waterside Pier is the perfect spot for New Yorkers to take a stroll, have a picnic, or bask in the East Side’s scenic views of the river. This project advances our commitment to making sure the community has access to quality open space while ESCR (East Side Coastal Resiliency) construction is underway.”
Activists block F.D.R. Drive next to East River Park
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, Oct. 25. 2021, The Village Sun
Chanting “Save East River Park!” climate-change activists blocked traffic n the F.D.R. Drive for about an hour Monday around noon.
The activists were not with East River Park ACTION or 1,000 Trees 1,000 People but with a larger global organization, Extinction Rebellion.
Harriet Hirshorn, a videographer who had gone to East River Park to see if any work was starting on the East Side Coastal Resilency project, said that two rows of proteters, about a dozen in all, were sitting on the F.D.R. Drive’s northbound lane just south of the Colears Hook pedestrian bridge, a bit south of Grand Street. They also lay down on their backs on the highway. The demonstrators’ arms were linked together through plastic PVC tubes.
Paws for park protest at Halloween Dog Parade
BY THE VILLAGE SUN, Oct. 24,2021
It’s hard to imagine anything possibly upstaging supercute dogs — and their humans — strutting in goofy Halloween costumes, but a group of East River Park advocates pulled it off.
It doesn’t have to be a trade-off
by Kathryn Freed, Oct. 24, Daily News
Former District 1 CM decries lack of accountability in City’s ESCR plan to destroy East River Park.
Manhattan: Your editorial “Green city, red tape” (Oct. 4) presents the city’s East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) plan as an environmentally sound project hampered by needless bureaucratic constraints. The problem is not red tape, it’s the absolute lack of accountability. At the city’s invitation, the community met with it for four years, resulting in a plan overwhelmingly supported by all parties. Shockingly, the city secretly dumped that plan and in late 2018 presented the new ESCR with no input from residents, elected officials or environmentalists. Why is it pushing through an almost $2 billion plan without a thorough independent review?
Vecinos protestan falta de comunicación de ciudad en proyecto del East River Park
BY JULIO CÉSAR GARCÍA, Oct, 19, 2021, Spectrum Noticias/NY1
Quedan meses para que la maquinaria pesada comience sus labores para construir lo que la ciudad llama la Obra de Resiliencia Costera del East Side: un plan de dos fases por cinco años para elevar el East River Park dos metros y medio.
Sin embargo, más vecinos se unen a las protestas que se organizan desde que se dio a conocer el plan. Esta vez frente a la alcaldía donde algunos denuncian falta de comunicación del ayuntamiento.
Key Points in English:
-We are here protesting the destruction of the park
-The people have been misinformed about what’s really going on, especially in public housing
-We are here because we care for the environment
-The people in government don’t really know what they’re doing. They’re taking away our trees and don’t really care foe the environment
-It’s true deblasio will be out in December but we don’t know what the next mayor will do so that’s why we’re out here now.
Ground unbroken, East River Park project shows city’s steep resiliency learning curve
BY ARI EPHRAIM FELDMAN, Oct. 14, 2021, Spectrum News/NY1
East River Park remains the city’s most ambitious such project, and residents, politicians, policy experts and activists on both sides of it agree that there are important lessons to be learned for future resiliency measures. City officials now say construction will start in the park this fall.
The project has been dogged for years by concerns over lack of transparency, poor inter-agency communication and ongoing delays. The issues have fed frustration among residents, even as city officials say they are investing an unprecedented sum in a public park that primarily serves a low-income community in order to protect it against climate change for decades.
WBAI Interview—Advocating for Justice: Council Candidate Allie Ryan and former Council Member Kathryn Freed discuss the City’s planned destruction of East River Park
Group demands hearing on major project at East River Park
Greg Mocker, Oct. 8, 2021, WPIX11
MANHATTAN, N.Y. — Park advocates chained themselves to trees outside City Hall on Friday and made their case to people in the area, including New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
Chain reaction: Corey Johnson finally talks with East River Park activists
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, OCTOBER 8, 2021, The Village Sun
Council Speaker Corey Johnson on Thursday finally spoke with East River Park activists who have been staging a weeklong protest outside City Hall. He talked with them for about 25 minutes, though claimed that he was not aware that they — and allegedly two key councilmembers — have been urging him to hold an emergency oversight hearing on the city’s coastal-resiliency plan that would destroy the current 60-acre park.
Green city, red tape: Shred some of the bureaucracy holding back resiliency projects
By DAILY NEWS EDITORIAL BOARD, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |OCT 04, 2021
It’s more than a little ironic to think that exhaustive environmental reviews are a hurdle in the path of the city’s resiliency efforts, but that’s the fact: These onerous procedures, atop a pile of other city, state, and federal red tape, risk unacceptably delaying upgrades to lifesaving infrastructure needed to protect New Yorkers from climate change’s ravages.
City Should Protect LES Heritage by Preserving 1939-Era East River Park Buildings
by Richard Moses, president of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, Oct. 4, 2021, Bowery Boogie
Last Friday, the City’s East Side Coastal Resiliency team sent out its final report (i.e. Amended Programmatic Agreement) on the East River Park’s historic Art Deco Track House and Tennis Center Comfort Station, two beautiful architectural gems that were part of the park’s original construction in 1939. The team resoundingly rejected the proposal to restore and renovate the buildings, and instead confirmed that both would be demolished as part of the Park’s upcoming reconstruction.
Exigen audiencia de revisión para salvar el East River Park
By Spectrum Noticias NY1 Manhattan, Sep. 29, 2021
Manifestantes en Manhattan pidieron al gobierno municipal que inicie una audiencia de revisión para salvar el East River Park.
El parque cerrará en la primavera debido al proyecto de resiliencia que se comenzará a construir en la zona costera del lado este.
East River Park Activists Chain Themselves to Tree, Make Weirdly Modest Demand
By Caroline Spivak, Sept, 28, 2021, Curbed
Because of its proximity to both the mayor and City Council, City Hall Park is a favorite location for protests. But this morning there was something different than the usual rallies and chants: At 7:30 a.m., two women, JK Canepa and Jmac, locked their arms around the trunk of a tree and encased their joined hands in hard-to-remove sections of PVC pipe. The pair says they’ll stay there until the city council takes new action on the East Side Coastal Resiliency plan, which calls for East River Park to be bulldozed and rebuilt with new flood protections. Oddly enough, the high drama of the action isn’t exactly matched by their demands, which are entirely procedural: They are insisting that City Council Speaker Corey Johnson hold an oversight hearing. More than six hours later, they are still embracing that tree…
Tree-hugging activists chain themselves at City Hall to protest East River coastal resiliency project
By Dean Moses, Sept. 28, 2021, AMNY
For years, members of East River Park Action and other activists have held rallies, marches, and reached out to elected officials to what they say has been no avail.
“We’ve tried almost everything that one could try. We’ve had a court case; we’ve tried our city council person and asked her to speak up for us. We’ve done just about everything we could,” Canpea said. “What else can we do but put our bodies on the line?”
The chained demonstrators believed this peaceful act of disobedience would finally get the city’s attention…
East River Park activists lock themselves to tree in City Hall Park, demand response from Speaker Johnson
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, SEPTEMBER 28, 2021, THE VILLAGE SUN
Taking a page from old-school East Village activism, Tuesday morning two women locked themselves to a tree in City Hall Park. Along with a group of fellow protesters, they urged that the City Council hold an emergency hearing on the fate of East River Park.
Let Water Go Where It Wants to Go (Opinion)
By Eric W. Sanderson, Sept. 28, 2021, The New York Times
For more than 20 years, I have been studying the historical ecology of New York City and thinking about what it means for the city’s future, and I can tell you one thing: Water will go where water has always gone.
When Hurricane Sandy roared into New York in 2012, where did the sea surge? Into the salt marshes. They may not have looked like salt marshes at the time. They may have looked like Edgemere and Oakwood Beach and Red Hook, but these neighborhoods are marshes first, disguised with landfill and topped with buildings…
Councilmember Carlina Rivera keeps ducking debates and the community loses out
BY ALLIE RYAN SEPTEMBER 24, 2021, The Village Sun
Councilmember Rivera has continually ignored discourse with the community on the impending East River Park flood-protection plan and the Soho/Noho upzoning. Her lack of both transparency and consistent communication about these plans is already in the public record. However, continuing to ignore constituents, while staying in the public eye, and pretending that there is no strong dissent to these egregious land grabs is an erosion of public trust.
How Can New York City Prepare for the Next Ida? Here’s a To-Do List.
By Anne Barnard, Michael Gold and Winnie Hu, Sept. 20, 2021, New York Times
The recipe sounds simple: Improve drainage. Use plants, tanks and barriers to slow water. But it takes money and cooperation.
With a photo of East River Park Action protest.
US cities are losing 36 million trees a year. Here’s why it matters and how you can stop it
By Amy Chillag, September 18, 2019, CNN
CNN — If you’re looking for a reason to care about tree loss, this summer’s record-breaking heat waves might be it. Trees can lower summer daytime temperatures by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a recent study.
But tree cover in US cities is shrinking. A study published last year by the US Forest Service found that we lost 36 million trees annually from urban and rural communities over a five-year period. That’s a 1% drop from 2009 to 2014.
If we continue on this path, “cities will become warmer, more polluted and generally more unhealthy for inhabitants,” said David Nowak, a senior US Forest Service scientist and co-author of the study…
As Climate Change Fears Grow, a Real Fight Over Fake Turf
A city’s decision to replace actual grass with a synthetic version sets off a conflict over the possible environmental and health risks of the move.
By Tracey Tully, Sept. 18, 2021, The New York Times
EAST ORANGE, N.J. — Residents near a small neighborhood park in New Jersey awoke early this month to the roaring sound of heavy machinery: A grassy field they had been begging officials to fix for years was finally getting a face-lift.
Then they learned of the details.
The field and more than a dozen trees lining Columbian Park in East Orange, a densely packed city in northern New Jersey, were being bulldozed to make way for an artificial turf football and baseball field and a rubberized running track. Plans also call for a playground and stationary exercise equipment, as well as 40 new saplings.
Many of the nearby residents whose yards are directly adjacent to the park were furious, joining their counterparts in a growing number of towns throughout the state and country who are trying to block the use of a product that was once coveted as an all-weather replacement for harder-to-maintain grass fields.
***NOTE: The NY Times readily covers this small park in New Jersey and its loss of a dozen or so trees and grass, but refuses to cover the the environmental impact of the impending destruction of 1000 trees and 46 acres of grassland of East River Park.
Protestan vecinos contra la remodelación del East River Park
BY SPECTRUM NOTICIAS NY1, Sept. 12, 2021
Vecinos del Bajo Manhattan se reunieron para pronunciarse en contra de la propuesta para demoler, parcialmente, el East River Park debido a que esto implicaría la tala de unos 1,000 árboles.
La propuesta municipal es un plan conocido como East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR), algo así como Resiliencia Costera para el East Side. Dicho proyecto consiste en construir un dique que funcione a manera de barrera ante posibles inundaciones, semejantes a las que ocurrieron durante la tormenta Sandy en el 2012.
De acuerdo con los organizadores de la protesta, se necesita una revisión completa de este plan pues consideran que la remodelación del parque implica un “ecocidio” debido a todos los árboles que se perderían, en caso de que esta iniciativa procediera.
On 9/11, East River Park was a refuge
BY JACK BROWN, SEPTEMBER 11, 2021, The Village Sun
The morning of that 9/11 I was walking a little dog on Seventh Street…
Looking for 1,000 people to stand with the 1,000 trees to be cut down in East River Park
Sept. 9, 2021, EV Grieve
On Saturday morning, opponents of the city’s current plan to bulldoze East River Park as part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project are hosting an action in the amphitheater to help raise awareness of what they say is a flawed plan to protect the area from future flooding.
Living for the City
hosted by Michael G. Haskins, WBAI Radio, Sept. 8, 2021
East River Park Action members Amy Berkov and Tommy Loeb take a deep dive into the floodwaters that the East Side Coastal Resiliency project is not going to protect us from–not any time soon and not for very many years either. Explore the boondoggle with our knowledgable Actioneers.
Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC, with Mayor Bill deBlasio
Sept. 3, transcript via Mayor’s Office
Good question from Eileen Myles, bad answer from deBlasio, scroll down to “question from Eileen in Manhattan”
“…New York City deserves the best resilient waterfront plan. And yet it’s puzzling that an environmental justice neighborhood like the East Village and the Lower East Side has a big resilient park that protected the neighborhood, especially during the pandemic. And yet you want to ram through the ESCR plan, which is a flood wall. And flood walls have been widely criticized….”
Mayor: “I appreciate both the passion in Eileen’s voice but also, she’s raising real concerns. For example, yes, when you work on a park, the park won’t be fully available to the public for that period of time. And yes, it’s true and it’s painful that some trees are coming down. But let’s go back to why we’re even doing this. We’re doing this because of what happened in Sandy. And we’re doing this because of rising sea levels globally and the threat of these kinds of storms. That whole area was hit so hard in Sandy. …” He goes on to remind people of flooding at Bellevue, which has nothing to do with the East Side Coastal Resiliency.
Why NYC Was So Unprepared For Hurricane Ida’s Flash Flooding
BY NSIKAN AKPAN, SEPT. 3, Gothamist
…In some ways, everyone saw Ida coming, and no one saw Ida coming. On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio blamed weather projections for being inaccurate. Emergency declarations weren’t made until well after the storm hit the area with tornadoes and a deluge. But in truth, atmospheric scientists and weather forecasts had predicted between 10-14 inches of rain across much of the mid-Atlantic as early as Monday….
The Storm Warnings Were Dire. Why Couldn’t New York Be Protected?
New York City and state officials knew heavy rains were coming, but their preparations couldn’t save the city from death and destruction.
By Jesse McKinley, Dana Rubinstein and Jeffery C. Mays, Sept. 3, 2021, The New York Times
…On Thursday, Mayor de Blasio suggested that the experts had led the city astray, saying that the city was told to expect three to six inches of rainfall over the course of the whole day, something he cast as “not a particularly problematic amount.”
“We’re getting from the very best experts projections that then are made a mockery of in a matter of minutes,” Mr. de Blasio said.
As residents dried out and cleaned up, there was already strong pushback to the mayor’s remarks, especially from elected officials who represent communities outside Manhattan.
“I think anyone who is saying they were surprised or caught off guard is being disingenuous,” said Justin Brannan, a councilman who represents Bay Ridge in Brooklyn and is chairman of the Committee on Resiliency and Waterfronts.
Mark Treyger, a councilman who represents Coney Island and Bensonhurst in Brooklyn, noted that a federal plan to study resiliency in the area was recently postponed, even as the city embarks on the $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency plan to protect Lower Manhattan, which is scheduled to be completed in 2023…
DDC Seeks Students and Local Artists to Beautify the Eyesore of East Side Resiliency Project
By Elie, Aug. 24, 2021, Bowery Boogie
Let the so-called art-washing begin.
The city is amidst a crowdsourcing campaign to find students and/or local artists who will decorate fencing erected for the controversial East Side Coastal Resiliency project.
This “Call for Art” is aimed at students from kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as local artists. Student winners earn $300 reward, while the local artists win $1,000.
It’s an apparent bid by the Department of Design and Construction to soften the years-long eyesore that awaits the neighborhood.
How Should NYC Address Environmental Justice? Let Officials Know
by Liz Donovan, Aug. 19, 2021, City Limits
The city is seeking public feedback that will help shape its first “Environmental Justice for All Report” planned for next year, looking at issues like water and air quality, waste management and access to green spaces.
The New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Climate and Sustainability held a virtual town hall Wednesday evening to discuss environmental justice issues important to New Yorkers—part of a larger effort to identify and address the ways that climate change and environmental issues disproportionately impact certain communities. …
Several participants complained about the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, a $1.4 billion plan which recently began construction and will raise portions of East River Park. Critics argue the years-long controversial project will further harm communities of color in the East Village and Lower East Side, blocking access to green spaces for some residents and removing trees that will take years to replace. …
Comments can be submitted until Sept. 5 online, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by voice message at 212-788-4144.
Activists FOIL Comptroller’s Office for info on East River Park project
AUGUST 19, 2021, BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, The Village Sun
East River Park activists rejoiced at the end of last month when Comptroller Scott Stringer refused to sign off on a contract for a $1.3 billion megaproject to turn their beloved park into a massive anti-flood levee.
Mayor de Blasio, though, promptly overrode Stringer’s concerns about the contract … On Aug. 12, one of their attorneys, Jack Lester, filed a Freedom of Information Law, or FOIL, request with the Comptroller’s Office, asking for all documentation relating to Stringer’s “analysis, review, findings and determinations pertaining to the E.S.C.R. project contract…with the…Department of Design and Construction.”
East River Park activists stage weeklong protest outside City Hall, push for emergency hearing
Fired-up East River Park activists “barbecued” outside City Hall Park on Friday.
AUGUST 13, 2021, BY LINCOLN ANDERSON The Village Sun
It was the culmination of a weeklong series of midday protests along Broadway outside City Hall to raise awareness of opposition to a planned $1.3 billion megaproject to bury East River Park and raise it up to 10 feet. ..In addition to the barbecue, the protesters have something else hopefully cooking, too. Namely, they are pushing for an emergency City Council hearing on the East Side Coastal Resiliency project.
Mayor plowing ahead with East River Park plan despite concerns over hiring equity
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, AUGUST 11, 2021, The Village Sun
The “E” in E.S.C.R. apparently does not stand for equity.
Brushing aside concerns about hiring equity, Mayor de Blasio last week overrode Comptroller Scott Stringer’s questions about the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, plowing ahead and registering a $1.3 billion contract for IPC Resiliency Partners…
Residents Speak Out as Mayor Moves Forward with Plan to Bulldoze East River Park
By ZION DECOTEAU, Aug 12, 2021, The Indypendent
Activists gathered outside City Hall to protest Mayor Bill de Blasio’s override of Comptroller Scott Stringer’s recent rejection of roughly $1.4 billion in construction contracts that will allow the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project to proceed..
“What is the point of [Stringer’s] office if the mayor can just come and overrule his decision?” Asked Fannie Ip of East River Park Action.
East River Park Action has been a prominent voice in protesting the controversial flood control project which would bulldoze, then bury East River Park under an industrial soil landfill and build a new park on top, in order to raise the site eight feet above the floodplain. The impetus for the plan comes from the 2012 inundation of the Lower East Side and the East Village with sea water during Hurricane Sandy.
“[De Blasio’s overruling] just shows the lack of democracy and transparency when it comes to this whole East River Park situation” said Christopher Marte, the Demcoratic nominee for City Council District 1…
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.
Advocacy group: Mayor ‘overrules’ comptroller on East River Park reconstruction contract
EV Grieve, August 9, 2021
Mayor de Blasio apparently doesn’t want any further delays with the East Side Coastal Resiliency Plan (ESCR) for East River Park.
According to East River Park Action in an Instagram post from Friday, the Mayor “overruled” Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office and asked that he register the low bidder’s contract for the massive floodproofing project.
Stringer detiene proyecto para reconstruir el East River Park
By Spectrum Noticias NY1, Aug. 3, 2021
El contralor de la ciudad, Scott Stringer, ha detenido la aprobación de un importante proyecto del gobierno de la ciudad para reconstruir el Parque del East River y hacerlo que sea a prueba de inundaciones.
Parks for the People
We look at the centuries-old struggle for public parks that serve all New Yorkers, not just the rich.
by Olivia Riggio, July 30, 2021, The Indypendent
Some of the city’s best-maintained parks are in wealthy neighborhoods. The High Line, an elevated park built atop a historic freight rail line in Manhattan’s Chelsea and the old meatpacking district, is a tourist destination. It opened in 2009 and is a public park, but run by a nonprofit that relies on donations. Brooklyn Bridge Park is located in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood, where the median income is nearly $200,000 a year. It is also maintained by a non-profit, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation.
But some parks in less wealthy neighborhoods have become battlegrounds. East River Park, located on the Lower East Side, is slated to be leveled and raised 10 feet as part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project. The five-year project would destroy 1,000 mature trees and hinder access to green space for the surrounding community, which includes dozens of public-housing buildings. The trees would be replaced with saplings and the park would be redesigned to be “low-maintenance” with metal and concrete furniture.
Grassroots community group East River Park Action has been fighting the plan since 2018, which The Indy previously reported on. The city has already begun construction on the part of the project above 14th Street.
Stringer Blocks Controversial East River Coastal Resiliency Contract, For Now
By ZION DECOTEAU, Jul 30, 2021, The Indypendent
“Kill the contract, not the park” a crowd chanted outside City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office at 1 Center Street on Tuesday afternoon.
They were Lower Manhattan residents demonstrating to demand that Stringer withhold his signature on the construction contract for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, or ESCR, a controversial flood control project that would level the East River Park. One protester even serenaded Stringer on a loudspeaker, imploring him not to sign.
Stringer won’t O.K. East Side coastal resiliency work contract, citing M/WBE hiring violation
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON , July 28, 2021, The Village Sun
.Comptroller Scott Stringer thinks a nearly $1.3 billion contract from IPC Resiliency Partners for work on East River Park needs work — so he has sent it back to the Department of Design and Construction.
Hazel Crampton-Hays, the comptroller’s press secretary, said the contract has been returned due to “outstanding issues.”
Battle over East River Park resiliency project reaches Stringer’s office with protest
By Dean Moses, July 27. 2021, AMNY
Fuming Lower Manhattan residents called upon City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Tuesday to halt progress on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR).
Ever since the devastation from Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on Lower Manhattan, a tug of war has raged between residents and city agencies over the proposed East River Park overhaul, which will lead to an elevation of the East Side waterfront. Opponents say the project will destroy the existing public park and cause various environmental impacts.
Nonetheless, the city approved the ESCR, and the plan awaits Stringer’s signature in order to free up the funding needed to get it started.
According to the ESCR plans, the work will raise the ground level to prevent flooding, protecting against severe weather disasters like Hurricane Sandy. Additionally, the proposal includes amenities such as a pedestrian crossing on Delancey Street and East 10th Street. However, those who actually spend time in the park say the groundwork will decimate the area and even impact health.
An Open Letter to Scott Stringer: Save East River Park
By Kim Sillen, July 26, 2021, Bowery Boogie
Dear Comptroller Stringer,
Ten years ago, you were a terrific advocate for the Grand Street neighborhood on the Lower East Side, when you helped Friends of Gulick Park secure funding for the renovation of this small park that lies at the intersection of many diverse communities. The refurbished park is now a jewel, and enhances the quality of life for so many. With quality of life in mind, I now appeal to you about a much larger issue with exponentially graver repercussions for many more people: East River Park and the East Side Coastal Resiliency Plan (ESCR).
You demonstrated that you care about environmental justice by embracing the Green New Deal as part of your mayoral platform. I believe you also care about racial equity because you audited NYCHA’s unsafe playgrounds and created the State of Play report, which focused not only on safety but also on opportunity and dignity, to ensure all children have access to play spaces as new and nice as those in wealthier neighborhoods. You provided hundreds of safe, eye-catching playscapes for New York City’s underserved children when it seemed that no one else in City government was terribly concerned about playgrounds for poor kids. As a mother, this spoke volumes to me.
Your term as Comptroller is coming to an end, and you have another chance to make a huge impact by righting an impending wrong of environmental injustice that will harm children and their families on the Lower East Side, including thousands of NYCHA residents, for generations. I urge you not to approve the disastrous IPC Resiliency Partners (IPC) contract for the ESCR project at East River Park…
Park Advocates hope Stringer won’t O.K. East Side resiliency project
July 26, 2021, The Village Sun
BY THE VILLAGE SUN | The comptroller reviews all city contracts, and East River Park advocates are praying that he has some issues with the bid for for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project.
Construction on the resiliency project could start imminently if the contract is approved. E.S.C.R. calls for burying East River Park under eight to 10 feet of landfill to raise it above the floodplain.
Opponents, including members of East River Park ACTION, will rally outside Stringer’s office at 1 Centre St., on Tuesday at noon.
The de Blasio administration selected the low bidder, IPC Resiliency Partners (IPC), for the E.S.C.R. project at East River Park and the $1.3-billion contract is now waiting for approval at Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.
East River Ecocide
By Elliot Sperber, July 23, 2021, CounterPunch
…While we can’t stop the wind, that doesn’t mean we’re entirely powerless to clean the air. The cheapest and most effective way, of course (in addition to curtailing pollution — i.e., degrowth), is to plant trees. Trees and other plants not only capture CO2, but produce oxygen. So, if we value breathing (and, really, only a maniac doesn’t, right?), we must also value trees. We should plant trees, as many as possible. But, crucially, we should also conserve the trees and forests and green spaces we have already. It’s no exaggeration to say that those in positions of power who don’t value, and don’t prioritize, such vital resources are putting us all on a path to extinction.
That’s why it’s so peculiar that Bill de Blasio (the mayor of New York City, who never tires of promoting himself as a friend of the environment) among others are planning to destroy over one thousand mature trees in a park here this coming October. At a time when we should be protecting our trees and green spaces most vigorously, the city is intent on destroying the thousand trees of East River Park, the nearly one-and-a-half mile long park that runs between the East River (really a tidal strait, an extension of the bay, particularly prone to flooding) and the FDR Highway along Manhattan’s Lower East Side. But why?
Building infrastructure to stop sea level rise can have an unfortunate consequence
Solutions that block water entirely just push the flooding into other areas. A real solution is coasts that can absorb rising waters.
BY ADELE PETERS, July 16, 2021, Fast Company
As the world heats up and sea levels rise, communities in the U.S. could spend more than $400 billion on seawalls to try to hold the ocean back over the next couple of decades. But there’s a catch: Building a seawall in one area can often mean that flooding gets even worse in another neighborhood or city nearby.
“Basically, the water has to flow somewhere,” says Anne Guerry, chief strategy officer and lead scientist at Stanford University’s Natural Capital Project. Guerry is also coauthor of a new paper in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that models how seawalls in the Bay Area could lead to unintended impacts. “What we found is that it ends up flowing into other communities, making their flooding much worse,” she says.
Be Very Careful Where You Build That Seawall
Walls are meant to keep out rising seas—but that water still has to go somewhere. New modeling shows it could well end up flooding your neighbors.
By Matt Simon, July 14, 2021, Wired
THINK BACK TO being a kid at the beach, building walls around your sandcastles. If you engineered those fortifications properly, the tide would come in and flow around your kingdom, before the walls eventually eroded away. By redirecting the rising water, you would have saved your castle—at least for a little while.
Now think bigger. Imagine you’re a city planner in an area threatened by rising seas and you’ve spent a fortune to build a proper seawall. The tide comes in and the wall holds, saving you billions of dollars in property damage. But: whomp whomp. Like the waves you once redirected around your sandcastle, the rising waters hit the wall and flow into the communities on either side of you. You’ve saved your residents, but imperiled others.
Portland’s 116-Degree Heatwave Underscores how Deadly Environmental Racism is…and the Lower East Side will Face a Similar Fate if the ESCR goes through.
Listen to the New York Times’s The Daily podcast, July 14, 2021:
Transcript from the podcast: There’s a professor at Portland State University, Vett Shandiss, and during the heat wave he went around with a thermometer…and he found that the wealthiest parts of Portland (OR) were 98-, 99-degrees, and then he went to the working class parts of Portland with the highest concentrations of people of color, historically disinvested, not a lot of sidewalks, not a lot of tree cover, a lot of exposture to sun, a lot of concrete that just absorbs the sun’s radiation.
He found a reading of 120-degrees in the poorest neighborhoods in Portland. In the poorest zip codes, the highest number of deaths occurred…and in the wealthiest zip codes, the lowest number of deaths occurred…
Trashing the Community-Backed BIG U: East Side Coastal Resilience Moves Forward Despite Local Opposition.
Will NYC Miss Another Opportunity to Lead on Climate and Environmental Justice?
By Dante Furioso, Jul 13, 2021, Archinect
…Where there is wealth, there is also poverty. Along the East River, the [resiliency] plan was produced with input from the residents of the historically working-class Lower East Side. As one of the largest blocks of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) tenants in the five boroughs, many of the 28,000 public housing residents supported a plan in which East River Park would gradually terrace into the river—allowing the rigid bulkhead to soften into a more natural, sloping coastline. The park would flood in high-water events and the addition of a long berm along the perimeter of the park would separate it from the inland housing during future flood events.
The plan also envisioned the prominent Robert-Moses-era expressway, the FDR, converted into a public transit corridor, turning the smog-inducing automobile lanes into space for dedicated buses and light rail. The combined effects of creating a floodable park and reducing motor vehicle traffic would improve public health for the large population of low-income, people of color. At the same time, this would reduce greenhouse gases, which are a major source of planet-warming and the ultimate cause of the sea-level rise. With a more natural connection between the city and its surrounding estuary, people could engage with their local waterways inducing civic desire to improve local ecology.
Instead, in 2018, the city vetoed the community plan and submitted a redesign that calls for the park to be buried under eight to ten feet of fill. Ignoring the recommendations of the architect-led design team, the city opted to rebuild the same park at a higher elevation—the water’s edge unchanged and the highway preserved.
What Technology Could Reduce Heat Deaths? Trees.
By Catrin Einhorn, Published July 2, 2021, Updated July 3, 2021,
The New York Times
DES MOINES — The trees were supposed to stay.
It didn’t matter that the owners of the squat building alongside were planning to redevelop the property. The four eastern red cedars stood on city land, where they had grown for the better part of a century.
“There’s no way these trees are coming down,” Shane McQuillan, who manages the city’s trees, recalled thinking. “The default position for us is, you don’t take out big trees to put in small trees.”
Here’s why: At a time when climate change is making heat waves more frequent and more severe, trees are stationary superheroes. Research shows that heat already kills more people in the United States than hurricanes, tornadoes and other weather-events, perhaps contributing to 12,000 deaths per year. Extreme heat this week in the Pacific Northwest and Canada has killed hundreds…
Rivera: Coastal resiliency now or ‘else-a’
JULY 9, 2021, The Village Sun
In the wake of the deluge from Tropical Storm Elsa that flooded highways and subway stations Thursday afternoon, Councilmember Carlina Rivera reiterated her support for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project.
“The climate crisis isn’t near, it’s here,” Rivera tweeted, along with a video of Big Apple straphangers wading through a flooded subway passageway. “We can’t afford to keep putting off resiliency measures for another year. That’s why we’re not waiting on the East Side — and why we need that kind of urgent policy vision citywide…”
But opponents of E.S.C.R., which would bury East River Park under 8 to 10 feet of infill soil to raise it above the floodplain, said Rivera’s argument is, well…all washed up. Whereas Hurricane Sandy in 2012 caused the East River to overflow its banks, flooding the East Village and Lower East Side, what happened Thursday was heavy rain connected to Tropical Storm Elsa.
Elected Officials Act Like Only the Wealthy are Entitled to Open Green Space [Op-Ed]
By Kirsten Theodos, July 9, 2021, Bowery Boogie
Governor Cuomo recently unveiled his plans for an Essential Workers Monument at Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City. The “Circle of Heroes” would honor the essential workers who carried the City through the pandemic. While the intent is honorable, it would require destroying 3,000 square-feet parkland… Understandably, this caused an uproar from the local residents who camped out at the site to save their beloved park, spawning the hashtag #PauseTheSaws. Soon elected officials joined the chorus of opposition…
Meanwhile, on the eastern loop of lower Manhattan, where CM Chin and BP Brewer actually have meaningful input, our elected officials remain silent…
To read the story in a new page, click on the name of the publication. For videos, just click on the image.
Concert in Support of East River Park—Friday, July 9!
Swing on by Nublu between 3:00 and 7:00 to enjoy great local music and support saving East River Park! We’ll have our iconic tees and totes available for pay-what-you-wish donations, or just your promise to wear them proudly. Many thanks to Moment NYC for sponsoring the show!
East River Park activists not giving up the fight, or their sumac mocktails
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, JULY 7, 2021, The Village Sun
Carlina Rivera recently cruised to victory in the Democratic primary election for City Council District 2…
However, two days before voters trekked to the polls to cast their ballots, a small band of Lower East Siders traveled to a Kips Bay street corner, where they pitched a pavement picnic outside the councilmember’s new digs. They said they wanted to talk to her about a critical issue in the election — the East Side Coastal Resiliency project and the fate of East River Park.
The event was dubbed Cocktails With Carlina, riffing on Rivera’srecent move from her native Lower East Side to the allegedly tonier Kips Bay. In an ironic toast to the pol’s new home, they sipped light drinks made of fragrant sumac picked in East River Park.
A poem for Sunday
By Eileen Myles, July 4, 2021, The Atlantic
for Carlina Rivera
on a bench…
How Trees Act As NYC’s “Natural Air Conditioning Units“
BY BEN YAKAS, JULY 1, 2021, The Gothamist
You may have noticed that it’s been a tad bit zesty outside this week—New York City has been under a heat advisory since Monday as record-breaking temperatures have made the city feel like the gooey, trash-filled center of a hot pocket (and it’s even worse in other parts of the country). If you have access to air conditioning or one of the city’s cooling centers, then you’ve likely planted your sweat-stained butt there. But the city has its own “natural air conditioning units” as well—and all you have to do is spend some time in nature to access them.
Throughout the city, tree canopy helps to cool down areas during heat waves such as this. As Curbed pointed out, the four coolest parts of the city in recent summers have all been areas neighboring major parks…
Air Pollution’s Invisible Toll on Your Health
Children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with pre-existing heart or lung disease are the most vulnerable.
By Jane E. Brody, June 28, 2021, New York Times
Those most vulnerable to illness and premature death related to air pollution include children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with pre-existing heart or lung disease. The risk is greatest among people who live in poor neighborhoods, many of which are close to major roads or near industrial sources of pollution.
New York Embarks on a Massive Climate Resiliency Project to Protect Manhattan’s Lower East Side From Sea Level Rise
Some residents are wary of the $1.45 billion system of seawalls and floodgates that will elevate the East River Park and protect 110,000 New Yorkers from coastal storms and flooding.
Brahmjot Kaur, June 25, 2021, Inside Climate News
Carlos Jusino has lived in the Lower East Side of Manhattan for over 35 years and remembers Hurricane Sandy as the longest two weeks of his life. As the neighborhood flooded, his family was left boiling water on a gas stovetop. Without heat, every blanket in their apartment was in use.
Many inaccuracies in this article.
Carlina Rivera moves out of Loisaida
JUNE 20, 2021, THE VILLAGE SUN
The City Council Member has moved to Kips Bay, far from the incipient construction that will cloud her old neighborhood with noise and dust.
City Claims to Preserve East River Park Amphitheater and Allow LES Ecology Center Composting to Remain
by Elie, June 14, 2021, Bowery Boogie
City officials announced the cash infusion to save the eroded bandshell – erected in 1941 – during the Parks subcommittee of Community Board 3 last Thursday. The $4.83 million budgeted for the preservation will go toward installing a new roof system over the current structure.
However, advocates claim that this announcement is misleading. And that this is not really a “preservation” but a complete overhaul (demolition) to something the community is against.
Also announced at the meeting was encouraging news that the Lower East Side Ecology Center can continue its composting activities on park grounds. For the last eighteen months, the local nonprofit faced the looming compost eviction in favor of playing fields, and scrambled to find replacement space.
East River Park’s beloved amphitheater to be preserved with new funding
By Ari Ephraim Feldman, Manhattan, Jun. 11, 2021, NY1
The city’s massive effort to raise the East River Park by eight feet to prevent flooding will now include additional funding to preserve the park’s beloved amphitheater, and allow the Lower East Side Ecology Center to keep its eight-tons-per-week compost operation on park grounds. …
The changes have made community members who are skeptical of the park’s reconstruction “cautiously optimistic,” said Michael Marino, founder of Friends of Corlears Hook Park, the park that is across the highway from the East River Park’s amphitheater.
“I don’t think it should have taken this long for this to happen,” Marino said of the new funding. “I feel like every once in a while, after years of the community complaining about something, we get a little crumb, and that’s supposed to appease us.”
Marino said he is pleased that the amphitheater will have a cover of some kind, but is still concerned that the current plan does not include bathrooms or sufficient seating for performances.
A covered amphitheater would offer “that grandiose vision” for people entering the park, he said.
Video: Coastal resiliency plan ignores the ‘elephant by the park,’ the F.D.R. Drive
JUNE 9, 2021, The Village Sun
It’s car pollution, stupid.
That’s a central message of the Sixth Street Community Center’s new “Save East River Park” video.
Carlina Rivera to Face Sole Challenger for Lower Manhattan Seat
by Ese Olumhense, June 3, 2021, City Limits
Hussein has also been critical of Rivera’s position on the city’s contentious East Side Coastal Resiliency plan, which will see East River Park demolished and later raised to better protect it from coastal flooding, according to city officials.
The East Side Coastal Resiliency Project breaks ground, but opponents aren’t backing down
By Kellie Zhao • May 28, 2021 • The Architect’s Paper
Some residents claimed the environmental ramifications of burying the park and felling approximately 1,000 trees had not been thoroughly assessed and that more measures were needed to conserve and relocate existing wildlife. Dr. Amy Berkov, a City University of New York biologist and East Village resident, questioned why the city neglected to follow the regulations set forth in the City Environmental Quality Review Technical Manual, which provides agencies guidelines to evaluate, disclose, and mitigate the environmental consequences of a project before it is implemented. An executive summary from 2019 on the environmental impacts of the project claimed that all birds and insects could migrate to nearby tree canopies and community gardens throughout the duration of construction, and that “no significant adverse effects to terrestrial resources are anticipated as a result of construction.” Though the city has committed to planting approximately 2,000 new trees, consisting of fifty different tree species that will be more resilient to salt spray and extreme weather, it will take decades for the new saplings on the reconstructed park to achieve a full canopy.
To protect a community from climate change, New York is elevating a park
By Angela Moore, Reuters, May 21, 2021
The project also includes razing the waterside East River Park and covering it with enough dirt to raise the entire park by 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 meters). The city will plant 2,000 trees to improve air and water quality, after cutting down 1,000 for the project.
Some residents have protested the plan, saying it causes too much harm and costs too much for the protection it would provide.
Why is Justin Brannan Treating this Activist Group So Poorly?
Queen of the Click, Brooklyn, May 20, 2021
Visitors showed up to Councilman Brannan’s office because they want to save the East River Park. All are professional and masked, but were not welcomed into the office.
Blackout along East River Park
May 19, 2020, EV Grieve
In recent days, someone has blacked out all the Save East River Park flyers along the waterfront…
The Fight Over East River Park
The Brian Lehrer Show, May 18, 2021
Everybody agrees it’s only a matter of time before lower Manhattan floods from rising sea levels or another superstorm, but when it comes to figuring out how to protect the area, there is much less consensus. Keith Gessen, professor at Columbia School of Journalism, founding editor of n+1 and a contributor to New York Magazine, talks about the fight over the future of East River Park, and why it’s a predictor for climate adaptation battles to come.
“MUSIC AND RUNNING, IT’S SOMETHING ANYONE CAN DO”
INTERVIEW WITH MATT SWEENEY.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND INTERVIEW BY BEN RAYNER
WORDS BY ANDY WATERMAN, May 13, 2021, TRACKSMITH
“East River is where I started,” Matt Sweeney told Tracksmith during our interview. “There’s something about running next to water which is great. I don’t know if I’d have picked up running if that park wasn’t there – it’s so inviting. There’s nothing daunting about it, there’s every kind of person running there.”
“It’s truly beautiful beyond words,” says Sweeney. “It’s essential to so many people’s well-being – it’s essential to my well-being – and it’s under threat right now from developers. They’re claiming it’s for flood protection, but it’s completely not for flood protection. They want to destroy the park and build condos there in 10 years.”
How can NYC build back faster?
New York City Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer talks COVID-19 capital project delivery, East Side Coastal Resiliency and borough-based jails.
By ANNIE MCDONOUGH, MAY 12, 2021, City & State
We’re very proud and excited about this project. It’s going to protect 110,000 Lower East Side residents, 28,000 of whom live in New York City Housing Authority apartments. And not only protect them from flooding in the future, like (Superstorm) Sandy, but also vastly improve open space and recreational opportunities.
This and much more misinformation from the DDC Commissioner. Please read and comment.
The Destroy-It-to-Save-It Plan for East River Park
New York’s first climate adaptation battle is here.
By Keith Gessen, May 11, 2021, New York Magazine/NYMag/Curbed
Eileen Myles, the poet and novelist and East Village literary figure, winner of a Guggenheim and author of the cult classic Chelsea Girls, first heard the city was planning to demolish East River Park last September. The reason given was flood protection. The area had been devastated by Hurricane Sandy. But Myles was incredulous and got in touch with a group of activists working to save the park. Myles had never really liked activism — “I never have the impulse to pick up a bullhorn in front of a crowd, and the only thing I hate more is seeing other people do it,” they told me — but this was different. This was their park.
Foes file legal appeal vs. East River Park resiliency project
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, MAY 1, 2021, THE VILLAGE SUN
Opponents of the East Side Coastal Resiliency plan have filed an appeal in their lawsuit to block the embattled mega-project….
“I hope that the appeal is successful,” [State Senator Brad] Hoylman said. The judge got it wrong. I think it’s a question of legislative prerogative.”
From an Urban Farm to a Wetland, This Two Trees Development Is Beyond Greenwashed
By Willy Blackmore, Curbed, April 28, 2021
Rather than building new flood barriers, like the one planned for East River Park on the Lower East Side, reestablishing this kind of spongelike native landscape is really the solution to the question of how New York City might withstand the rising waters of climate change.
East Side Coastal Resiliency Project Construction to Begin
By Patrick McNeill, Cityland, Center for New York City Law, New York Law School
he ambitious project will help to protect the East Side community and provide new improvements to many parks. On April 15, 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced major construction on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. The $1.45 billion project will extend flooding protections and improve open spaces. Neighborhoods that were heavily affected by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 will now be home to one of New York City’s most ambitious infrastructure and climate justice projects. For CityLand’s prior coverage of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, click here.
NYC Residents Fight Flood Control Plan That Gets Rid Of Park
WBGO By Scott Pringle, April 25, 2021, 42 seconds
“It will be completely surrounded by pile driving, heavy construction, dust, particulate matter from a million tons of fill. This is not the solution for flood control.”
Earth Day action: Elizabeth Street Garden joins coalition to fight for NYC green spaces
By Dean Moses, April 22, 2021, AMNY
The small one-acre paradise located between Prince and Spring Streets has been fighting its own battle to maintain its lush, foliage amidst a bustling city. Although their legal struggle is still ongoing, Elizabeth Street Garden is teaming up with East River Park Action and a litany of fellow groups through a citywide initiative in order to raise awareness for comparable parks and green zones that are in danger of being redeveloped.
Elected Officials Ignore Mom’s Plea to Stop the City from Destroying East River Park [OP-ED]
by Kirsten Theodos, April 22, 2021, Bowery Boogie
There is a crisis right now in New York City. The limited green space we have is under attack, and even a global climate crisis and pandemic won’t stop the City from destroying it. I live near East River Park, the only meaningful green space on the Lower East Side, a vital park thronging with people seeking fresh air, both day and night.
Yet, the City is set to demolish it very soon.
Manhattan coastal protection plan under cloud of controversy
By Stacey Delikat, April 21, Manhattan, FOX 5 NY
NEW YORK – In 2012, Hurricane Sandy left the Lower East Side underwater and in the dark. Now nearly a decade later, New York City has finally started work on a coastal resiliency plan to protect lower Manhattan from future flooding. But the plan is swirling in its own storm of controversy.
“We think that for $1.45 billion, there has to be a way to achieve flood protection without destroying the entire East River Park,” said Fannie Ip, one of the founding members of the group East River Park Action, which opposes the city’s plan.
“We Need Something Better”: Lower East Siders Urge City To Halt East River Park Resiliency Project
BY JAKE OFFENHARTZ, GOTHAMIST, APRIL 19, 2021
Nearly every weekend for four decades, Raphael Munoz has been lugging heavy speakers across FDR Drive and into East River Park. When it’s warm, the 57-year-old, who grew up in the nearby Baruch Houses, can be found near the amphitheater, laying down the soundtrack for picnics, birthday parties, and barbecues that stretch late into the night.
But with the city set to move forward on its East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) plan, Munoz’s longtime open-air venue will soon be buried under 8 to 10 feet of landfill. On Sunday, he joined hundreds of other Lower East Side and East Village residents in demanding the city halt the $1.45 billion project.
“There is climate change. That’s a fact. So we have to do something about it,” Munoz told Gothamist. “But I don’t know why they have to take away the park.”
Protesters march against plans to demolish East River Park
BY AMY YENSI, MANHATTAN, NY1, April 18, 2021
“We had a plan that the community worked on for years, planing everything, going over structures and then the mayor unilaterally decided, without community input, that the way to save the park was to destroy it for at least 5 years,” said resident Judy Capel.
‘Save our park!’ Hundreds of protesters — no politicians — march against East Side resiliency plan
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, The Village Sun, APRIL 19, 2021
As protesters streamed across the E. Sixth St. bridge over the F.D.R. Drive into East River Park on Sunday, one of them had a telling insight. “No elected officials,” observed Mark Hannay, a healthcare advocate and East Village resident. “Normally, all the elected officials would be here for something like this.”
Hundreds march in opposition of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project
By Dean Moses, amNY, April 18, 2021
Emily Johnson is of the Yup’ik Nation, and is an avid water and land activist. She is a strong believer that climate justice is racial justice and is one of hundreds of Lower East Side residents against the ESCR project. She says that this plan is only a temporary fix that will destroy the trees in the East River Park and prevent individuals from freely accessing the open space.
“We demand the city stop the demolition of East River Park. We demand a comprehensive outside environmental review of their plan. We demand immediate interim flood control; we demand a truly resilient plan. This city, Mayor de Blasio, our Council Member Carlina Rivera, they want us to accept their environmentally racist plan,” Johnson said, adding, “The city wants us to accept a $1.5 billion plan that is only temporary, it is not resilient, destroys our park, and for years makes our community vulnerable.”
Great pictures, too!
City Officially Breaks Ground on $1.45B East Side Coastal Resiliency Project
by Elie, Bowery Boogie, April 16, 2021
After an initial delay, the contested $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency Project is set to break ground in the coming days. All against a backdrop of legal filings and vociferous community opposition.
“Building a recovery for all of us means fighting climate change and investing in resilient communities,” Mayor de Blasio stated in a press release yesterday. “This project will keep generations of New Yorkers safe from extreme weather, coastal storm, and rising sea levels – all while preserving and improving some of our city’s most iconic open spaces.”
[There are so many inaccuracies in that quote, I don’t know where to start. More to come.]
City officially launches $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency project
By Kevin Duggan, amNY, April 15, 2021
Later this year, work will start to raise the almost 46-acre East River Park with 8-10 feet of fill, along with an upgraded amphitheater, ballfields, tennis courts, soccer and multi-use turf fields, track and field, basketball courts, playground, comfort stations and picnic and barbecue areas.
City Kicks Off East River Resiliency Project, as Local Activists Step Up Protests
The Lo-Down, April 15, 2021
In a press release dated April 15, the mayor stated, “This project will keep generations of New Yorkers safe from extreme weather, coastal storm, and rising sea levels – all while preserving and improving some of our city’s most iconic open spaces.” Almost a decade after Hurricane Sandy, construction is beginning on a 2.4 mile stretch of the East River from East 25th Street to Montgomery Street. It involves demolishing and then rebuilding East River Park at a higher level and creating a system of floodwalls, berms and movable floodgates.
A Recovery For All of Us: Mayor de Blasio Celebrates Construction for East Side Coastal Resiliency Project
Office of NYC Mayor, April 15, 2021
Ambitious climate adaptation effort will protect a diverse East Side community, including over 28,000 NYCHA residents
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the beginning of major construction activities on East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR), a $1.45 billion climate resiliency project that will extend flood protections and improve open spaces for more than 110,000 New Yorkers – including 28,000 public housing residents – on Manhattan’s East Side, from East 25th Street south to Montgomery Street. These neighborhoods, which were pummeled by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, will now be home to one of the most ambitious infrastructure and climate justice projects in New York City history.
East River Park Advocates Demand to See Resiliency Planning Documents
The Broadsheet, APRIL 13, 2021 BY ROBERT SIMKO
Joining East River Park Action as a co-plaintiff in the suit is Christopher Marte, a candidate for the City Council seat that will be vacated by Margaret Chin later this year, as a result of term limits. Mr. Marte observes that, “if Hurricane Sandy were to happen again tomorrow, almost all of District 1 would be just as vulnerable as it was in 2012. We are living in a state of climate emergency and must take immediate action to protect our City. But the urgency of climate change is no excuse for decisions to be made behind closed doors with private interests leading the conversation.”
He continues, “the only way the City is going to be able to meet standards and deadlines is if the public is able to hold them accountable, and if the impacted communities are treated as the stakeholders that they are. It is their homes that will be underwater, it is their park that will be destroyed—not Mayor de Blasio’s.”
East River Park activists sift through newly revealed info in resiliency reports
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, The Village Sun, APRIL 12, 2021
Three hundred million dollars in “alienation mitigation” funds.
That’s just one of the things that the city was hiding behind its heavy redactions of key documents concerning the East Side Coastal Resiliency project.
‘Save East River Park March’ To Be Held April 18
The march is organized by Eileen Myles, Emily Johnson and Harriet Hirshorn of the East River Park ACTION group.
Patch, April 12, 2021
We are inviting you to join us in this urgent exercise of free speech and outlet for the immense frustration we feel at the betrayal by public servants i.e., our mayor, our City Council Member and the entire City Council, our Community Boards, City Planning Commission, the Parks Department and all who are engaged in supporting the farcical, greedy and short-sighted version of flood control known as East Side Coastal Resiliency.
Opponents Of City’s East River Park Resiliency Project Sue For More Transparency
BY SYDNEY PEREIR, APRIL 11, 2021, Gothamist
(Jonathan) Lefkowitz said that the value engineering study may also reveal information for another lawsuit the group filed last year, which argued the project needed state legislature approval to rebuild the park. That lawsuit was dismissed last summer.
“They’re basically cutting off lots of people from a park and providing no alternatives, no viable alternatives,” Lefkowitz said.
March to save East River Park
Village Sun, April 11, 2021
Opponents of the $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency plan will hold a protest march through the neighborhood on Sun., April 18.
“Save our park! Save our lungs! Save our neighborhood!” a press release for the event exhorts.
Opponents Of City’s East River Park Resiliency Project Sue For More Transparency
By NYPAA News on April 11, 2021
A group of East Village residents opposed to a flood protection plan involving rebuilding the East River Park has sued City Hall—again—to try and halt the project.
Activist group sues Mayor de Blasio, city over East River Park report
by Dean Balsamini, NY Post, April 10, 2021
Environmental activists are suing Mayor de Blasio and the city for allegedly withholding vital information on the $1 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency project….
“We seek alternatives that will preserve much of our East River Park and provide flood protection. Some of those alternatives are outlined in the unredacted sections of the study. Now we need to see all of the report,” Arnow added.
Interview with Tommy Loeb of East River Park Action
by Paul DiRienzo, WBAI, April 8, 2021, East River Park Section starts at 16:53
Talking about the redacted Value Engineering Study East River Park Action uncovered and what the city seemed to be hiding be denying the report even existed.
Mystery solved, kind of: Unredacted East River Park resiliency study emerges
by Dean Moses, AMNY, April 7, 2021
The East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) “Value Engineering Study” mystery has been unveiled and majority of the redactions have been removed, but the reasons for this missing and reappearing study are still vague.
City tries again with release of a Value Engineering Study for East River Park
EVGrieve, April 7, 2020
Five days after East River Park Action (ERPA) filed a lawsuit against Mayor de Blasio and the Office of Management and Budget for the entire Value Engineering Study without redactions … the city released a (mostly) unredacted version yesterday.
And check out the lively comments section
Rivera: More info coming from redacted resiliency report
BY THE VILLAGE SUN, APRIL 7, 2021
[Carlina] Rivera, in her tweet, said the city’s Department of Design and Construction agreed to release the additional information as a result of advocacy by her and the East Side Coastal Resiliency Community Advisory Group.
But members of East River Park ACTION countered that it was their lawsuit, plus a letter by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to the mayor, advocacy by the Grand Street Democrats political club and also coverage by local media outlets, including The Village Sun, that compelled D.D.C. to cough up more of the heavily redacted study.
Activists File Lawsuit Against City Over Redacted East River Park Report
By Elie, April 6, 2021, Bowery Boogie
East River Park ACTION, the Grand Street Democrats club and a gaggle of political candidates and local activists filed a lawsuit on Friday (April 2) against Mayor de Blasio, demanding that the redacted passages of the Value Engineering Study for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project be unhidden and made public. The city’s Office of Management and Budget is also named by attorney Jack Lester.
Lawsuit filed over East Side Coastal Resiliency report redactions
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, APRIL 5, 2021, THE VILLAGE SUN
East River Park ACTION, the Grand Street Democrats club and a lineup of political candidates and local activists are plaintiffs in an Article 78 lawsuit against Mayor de Blasio, demanding that the redacted sections of the Value Engineering Study for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project be made public.
Exclusive: Council Member Justin Brannan joins the fight to reveal redacted “ESCR Value Engineering Study”
by Dean Moses, April 4, 2021, AMNY
Council Member Justin Brannan joins the search for the truth behind the redacted EastSide Coastal Resiliency “Value Engineering Study.”
The ghost hunt continues for the mysteriously missing and then reappearing East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) “Value Engineering Study,” which is so heavily redacted that Council Member Brannan, the Chair of the Committee on Resiliency and Waterfronts, joins the quest in pushing Mayor Bill de Blasio to have this report fully released to the public.
City Council Chair on Resiliency Committee Demands Non-Redacted East River Park Resiliency Report
by Elie, April 5, 2021, Bowery Boogie
…the Chair of the City Council Committee on Resiliency and Waterfronts, Justin Brannan, is getting involved. Demanding that the city release an non-redacted version.
“As you know a heavily-redacted, virtually unreadable copy was released due to FOIL requests,” Brannan wrote in a letter sent to Mayor de Blasio today. “This does not necessarily inspire confidence for those who are merely seeking transparency and information.”
“This is a significant project that will fundamentally change the area and require hundreds of millions of dollars of investment from the city,” he continued.
Residents Fight to Stop Plan that will level Park for years
Angi Gonzalez, April 1, 2021, NY1
Construction to Raise East River Park Above Rising Waters Starts This Spring
by ARI EPHRAIM FELDMAN, NY1, March 29, 2021
Fannie Ip is concerned that by hiding much of the [Value Engineering] report, the city is hiding possible alternatives for East River Park that could prevent flooding without destroying the park as it is.
“That’s how they’ve been dividing us: if you want flood protection, this is it,” Ip said.”But that’s false. This is not the only plan.”
by Marcella Durand, March 21, 2021, Blackear Institute
The more I learn about the history of this particular sliver of parkland—over which the city is fighting with local inhabitants of the Lower East Side, including residents of New York City Housing Authority buildings, artists, poets, city planners, composters, joggers, bicyclists, yoga practitioners, drummers, birders, fishers, foragers, indigenous and senior people—the more I realize how the U.S., for all its illusory surface variations, is still basically stuck in the same moral and philosophical place it was in its first moment of acquisition, exploitation and colonization.
Watching From a Distance: What Gives a Virtual Dance Life?
By Gia Kourlas, March 24, 2021, New York Times
This film, in essence, preserves not only a dance but a place — the amphitheater, whose proposed demolition is a part of plans to elevate and reconstruct East River Park to protect it from damaging coastal storms. (The plan is not universally popular.) It also represents a moment in time when, despite the pandemic, a choreographer and her dancers, seven in all, rehearsed in a park and performed for an invited crowd and anyone else who felt like stopping by.
Beyond the open arch of the amphitheater are joggers, cyclists, walkers; past that is the rippling water of the East River. Occasionally cameras pan back to see a casual crowd watching, but as the dancers pair up and abruptly go their own way moving with an internal urgently, it’s as if the city is their audience.
Allie Ryan running for Council District 2 as an independent
by Lincoln Anderson, March 24, 2021, The Village Sun
One of Allie Ryan’s chief concerns right now, and one of her main reasons for running for office, is East River Park and the East Side Coastal Resiliency plan. Land use and quality-of-life, as she sees it, are the two key issues affecting city residents, and they are converging in the embattled East River Park plan and the fight against it.
Report: Lowest Bids for East River Park are $73 million over budget
EV Grieve, March 17, 2021
The lowest construction bids for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) will cost $73 million more than the $1.45 billion budget — and they’ve barely started, according to the latest mailing from advocacy group East River Park Action.
WHY WRECK A PARK?
East River Park is New York City at its finest. We cannot let it be destroyed.
Matt Sweeney, March 15, 2021, Medium
About eight years ago my life as a musician in New York changed radically for the better when I started running in East River Park.
East River Park Advocates Appeal Redacted Resiliency Engineering Report
March 8, 2021, Bowery Boogie
East River Park advocates announced an appeal of the heavily redacted Value Engineering Study, the report Mayor de Blasio cited in 2018 when announcing the sudden change in the flood control plan.
East River Park ACTION attorney Jack Lester sent an appeal on March 2 to the City’s Department of Design and Construction, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Parks Department to view the entire Value Engineering Study, not the mostly blacked-out version released last month.
East Side Coastal Resiliency report mysteriously appears with unreadable redactions
by Dean Moses, March 2, 2021, AMNY
…according to a tweet by Kirsten Theodos, who shared the report over social media, the majority of its pages are blacked out, making it unreadable.
“The new City plan will destroy 57 acres of coastal parkland, fell nearly 1000 mature trees and eliminate the only large outdoor greenspace residents on LES for recreation and wellness. The City plan is twice as expensive, provides no interim flood protection during the many years of construction, & requires unprecedented ecological destruction of the largest municipal park on the LES impacting the residents of the predominantly low income, BIPOC neighborhood,” Theodos wrote in a tweet.
East River Community Group Gets Action on (heavily redacted) value engineering study
EV Grieve, March 2, 2021
…East River Park has many outstanding questions for the city to answer. “Our many ACTIONeers have pored over the plans and have found fatal flaws that will damage our neighborhood’s well being for years to come. We must have transparency, accountability, and community involvement in a revised plan.”
City Finally Releases East River Park Resilience Study, but with Heavy Redactions
March 1, 2021, Bowery Boogie
It took three years and the accompanying community pressure for the city to finally release a critical report on the East River Park reconstruction plan, which it initially claimed did not exist.
The Value Engineering Study, as it’s called, was the report Mayor de Blasio cited in 2018 when announcing the sudden change in the flood control plan for East River Park. This new resiliency approach – the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project – roughly doubles the cost and buries the entire park in eight feet of fill.
NYC finally releases East River Park report, with heavy redactions
By Melissa Klein, February 27, 2021, New York POST
”The lack of transparency in this $1.45 billion public project is unconscionable. These redactions are just a pattern of disdain that the city has shown toward our community,” said Tommy Loeb, a member of East River Park Action.
The city used the value engineering report as the basis for ditching another flood protection plan that would not have decimated the 57-acre park. The report says the plan to raise the level of the park would save $319 million.
Sierra Club demands hearing, transparency on East Side Coastal Resiliency plan
FEBRUARY 22, 2021 BY THE VILLAGE SUN
Following the city’s release of a heavily redacted report, the Sierra Club of New York City is urging the City Council to hold a hearing ASAP on the embattled East Side Coastal Resiliency plan.
EXCLUSIVE: Erin Hussein primarying Carlina Rivera in District 2
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, FEBRUARY 14, 2021, THE VILLAGE SUN
The top issue where this is being felt is East River Park, in her view. The city’s East Side Coastal Resiliency plan, which Rivera staunchly supports, is facing resistance from a broad group of environmental activists, block associations and individuals, who have sued to stop the project.
L.E.S. Dem club snubs Rivera for ‘ignoring concerns’ on East River Park plan
Claiming that Carlina Rivera has “ignored” community concerns about the city’s draconian plans for East River Park, the Grand Street Democrats declined to endorse her for reelection.
The stunning snub came Monday night as the Lower East Side club was considering an endorsement for City Council District 2. Currently, Rivera is running unopposed in the June 22 Democratic primary.
Mayoral candidate Shaun Donovan: De Blasio botched East Side resiliency plan
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, FEBRUARY 7, 2021, THE VILLAGE SUN
A candidate for New York City mayor says the fiasco of the East Side Coastal Resiliency plan is exactly why he is running.
Governors Island rezoning is wrong on so many levels
BY ALLIE RYAN, The Village Sun, JANUARY 25, 2021
This plan highlights the hypocrisy of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project and the impending demolition of East River Park. East River Park, with 60 acres, in a floodplain, will be raised 8 to 10 feet to withstand floodwaters for 100 years in the future. Yet the proposed climate-change center’s two sites are in floodplains on Governors Island.
Opponents of NYC’s $1.4B East River Park project demand new review
by Melissa Klein, NY Post, Jan. 16, 2021
New York City’s bold plan to bury East River Park is based on a phantom study that doesn’t exist, opponents of the $1.4 billion project charge.
Interview on nonexistent Value Engineering Report
Paul diRienzo, WBAI, Jan. 13, 2021 (Listen from minute 12:24-17:07)
Emily Johnson of East River Park Action speaks about the news of the nonexistent Value Engineering report that the city says is the reason East River Park must be demolished. “Why is this East Side Coastal Resiliency plan being pushed through…our elected officials are lying to us, to community members who live here and will be deeply affected, and are also lying to other elected officials.”
(Clarification: Johnson is from the Yup’ik Nation in Alaska, not New York as she was introduced. The original people in Manhattan were the Lenape. Johnson communicates with descendants of the Lenape diaspora and has received support for the preservation of East River Park .)
Advocacy group: The city’s value engineering study for East River Park does not exist
January 11, 2021, EV Grieve
A value engineering study, an oft-cited factor behind the city’s change of plans in September 2018 to bury/elevate East River Park by eight feet as part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, does not exist, according to advocacy group East River Park Action.