Schedules Unkept, East River Park, a 21st Century History
a slide show of the painful 10-year rebuilding of the waterfront, a process that was promised to be two years by Pat Arnow:
2012 Hurricane Sandy strikes New York City. Sandy leaves dozens dead. The storm’s more than nine feet of storm surge from the East River causes extensive damage in the Lower East Side.
2013 President Obama launches a national design competition, Rebuild by Design, to develop projects to prepare for future disasters. Urban planners, architects and community groups come together to develop a coastal protection plan, known as the BIG U, to reduce the risk of flooding caused by climate-change related storm surge and rising sea levels in Lower Manhattan.
2014 US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) selects the BIG U as a winner of the competition. NYC and HUD allocate $335 million to build the first section of the BIG from Montgomery to East 25th streets, calling it the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project.
2014 –2017 The Lower East Side community engages in extensive planning meetings with NYC agencies to redesign the waterfront parkland from Montgomery to East 25th streets. Community Boards 3 and 6 set up a task force, and together with local stakeholders, engage in more than a dozen community engagement sessions to provide comments and feedback on the design. During that time, the City committed additional $425 million to the first section, for a total of $760 million. The proposed design includes a bermed flood barrier on the western part of the park, along the FDR highway, and intends to use East River Park to absorb storm surge water.
2018 March: Community Board 3 commits to endorsing the design for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project plan if certain adjustments are made, including solar and wind lighting, and more education about resiliency and climate change.
October 2018: After four years of planning, the Mayor’s Office announces that they are scrapping the approved design for the section of the East River Coastal Resiliency project from Montgomery Street to 14th Street, to instead install a flood wall along the water’s edge. The new plan is to destroy the existing park and build a levee on 8-10 feet of landfill from around Grand Street to 14th Street. The cost for the project is $1.45 Billion. Construction is planned for spring 2020, completion by 2023, closing East River Park for the duration of construction.
Our East River Park
A slide show of the wonders of East River Park in recent years and what we will lose.
–Timeline by Naomi Schiller
Plans as they were and are
A People’s Plan For the East River Waterfront
GOLES–Good Old Lower East Side–helped start LES Ready!, the longterm recovery group that formed in response to Sandy. Out of their grassroots organizing, the community was able to engage the Rebuild by Design process. Many other organizations contributed to the People’s Plan for the LES Waterfront even before Sandy. Check out this thoughtful and detailed report. It’s a history, survey, and recommendations.
East river Blueway Plan, 2012
East River Blueway Plan, 2012
Look at this. You’ll cry when you see how beautifully it could have been done if we’d adopted these 2012 plans. https://www.wxystudio.com/projects/urban_design/east_river_blueway_plan
Further resources compiled by Kendra Krueger:
Community Design Plan
Description: GOLES–Good Old Lower East Side–helped start LES Ready!, the longterm recovery group that formed in response to Sandy. Out of their grassroots organizing, the community was able to engage the Rebuild by Design process. Many other organizations contributed to the People’s Plan for the LES Waterfront even before Sandy. Check out this thoughtful and detailed report. It’s a history, survey, and recommendations.
Rebuild by Design ‘The Big U’ Design Report
Master Plan for Pier 42, 2014
“Pier 42 uses a combination of newly created soft shoreline edge and an inboard ridge to dissipate wave action and protect against both flooding and future sea level rise. The park will place mechanical systems and small park buildings above the new 100 year flood line and seeks to use solar-powered lighting to eliminate any electrical conduit from vulnerability. All plant material and hardscape finishes within the flood zone will be tolerant of period inundation.” – Signe Nielsen, Principal, Mathews Nielsen
Pier 42 Park Project Lands $19 Million More In Funding, Lower East Side, 2016,
Back in 2012, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) secured $16 million in funding to build Pier 42 park, located between FDR Drive and the East River on the Lower East Side. Curbed reports the project has now received more complete financing in the form of $12 million more from the LMDC in addition to $7 million via settlement funds recently distributed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Once complete, the public space will include landscaped lawns and gardens, an esplanade, a bike path, playgrounds/play areas, a concession station, and a pavilion. Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects is designing. Phase one, which largely focuses on remediating and pedestrianizing the pier, is expected to begin in 2017. A former cargo warehouse must first be demolished.
Fact Sheet: De Blasio Administration Announces Faster, Updated Plan for East Side Coastal Resiliency Project
September 28, 2018
“New plan will reduce construction time, transform East River Park and deliver flood protections for the East Side nearly a year earlier.”
NYCHA Recovery and Resiliency Plans
Description: NYCHA’s own flood protection plan, separate from ESCR
History of Stuyvesant Cove Park from the Glaciers to Native Plant haven to probable flood wall.
By Eli Sargent, Fall 2018
What is in that fill that is going to be dug up?
“Preserving community while expanding resiliency at New York City’s East River Park,”
by Carter Strickland, James Lima, and Amy Chester, Parks and Recreation Magazine, May 2019
All about the stewardship model of maintaining park. That will be useful someday in the distant future when there is a new park. Includes an article about the artificial turf and the heat island effect (we’re going to get lots more artifiial turf in the new East River Park when it is rebuilt someday)
East Side Coastal Resiliency Plan (ESCR Plan)
Description: The city’s current ‘preferred alternative’ plan.
Timeline: October 2018 first presented
Website portal: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/escr/index.page
January 2019 ESCR Plan presentation
Plan details from From September 17, 2019, Hearing:
- Download Board Materials
- Download Animation of Floodgates and Drainage
- Download Animation of Fly Through
- Download Animation of Bike Through
Environmental Impact Statement
Description: The FEIS includes a detailed project description and an assessment of environmental impacts, including direct, indirect, and cumulative effects, associated with a No Action Alternative, Preferred Alternative, and three other With Action Alternatives, and a response to comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
Final Environmental Impact Statement, Sept. 2019
Environmental Review Documents: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/escr/progress/environmental-review.page
National Environmental Policy Act, New York State Environmental Quality Review Act, and City Environmental Quality Review JOINT ROD (Record Of Decition) and FINDINGS STATEMENT, New York City Office of Management and Budget New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, December 2019.
December 2019 Letter of Agreement City Council Members
JOINT ROD and FINDINGS STATEMENT, December 2019
Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery, Feb. 7, 2020
Among the responses, here’s the rationale for demolishing the park. It’s about Traffic.
Preferred Alternative Rationale:
The shorter construction duration for the flood protection under the Preferred Alternative is primarily due to minimized construction disruption and delay along the FDR Drive (which would require temporary nighttime single-lane closures of the FDR Drive to allow construction) and reduced construction complexity related to the existing Con Edison transmission lines that run parallel to the highway along the park. Under Alternative 3, closures of the FDR Drive would need to meet requirements set forth by the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) and would limit construction to approximately six hours of single-lane closure of the FDR Drive per night.
Neighborhood Improvements Interim Recreation Update
NYC Parks, Aug. 13, 2020