Councilmember Carlina Rivera has called a City Council hearing for Wednesday, January 23 at 1:00 pm to discuss the East Side Coastal Resiliency project that would completely rebuild East River Park for flood protection.
There are many unanswered questions about the current plan. Anyone interested in the fate of our local park is encouraged to attend and to testify.
Following superstorm Sandy in 2012, federal funds were allocated for flood protection along this stretch of NYC shoreline. Much of the East Village is built up on a flood plain, and, as we learned that fall, is particularly susceptible to rising sea level and tide surges that we should expect more of as climate change makes an impact.
A design process over four years produced a plan that would maintain the park’s primary recreational facilities and protect residential areas with berms and flood walls along the FDR Drive.
Last fall, the Mayor presented a revised plan that would also protect the park itself from flooding by raising the entire park with landfill above the flood line. As presented, the project would close the entire park for the duration of construction, estimated at 3.5 years. This new plan was designed to take less time but cost more money, and for many people in the neighborhood the radical nature of the park reconstruction finally hit home. (The headline in this weekend’s New York Times neatly summarized the crux of the problem: “To Save East River Park, the City Intends to Bury It.”)
The city council hearing on Wednesday is an opportunity to let the City know how vital this park is to East Village and Lower East Side residents, and raise questions about how the project will impact our lives. Is such a dramatic rebuild really necessary to protect the neighborhood from floods? Is complete closure of the park necessary for construction? How can we believe the City’s accelerated timetable when all other construction projects along the waterfront have been many years behind schedule?
If you are able to come out on a workday for this important hearing, please do.