GSD Resolution on East River Park Draft EIS

Adopted at regular meeting 5/16/19.

The East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) Project is “designed to reduce the risk of floods from coastal storm surges and/or flooding from high-intensity rainfall events.” (The full draft environmental impact statement prepared by the City is available here.)

The City’s $1.4 billion proposal would bulldoze three miles of shoreline parks from Montgomery to 25th St., add landfill, and raise the entire park 8-10 feet as a flood wall against the East River. Construction would start in March 2020 and last 3½ years, by the City’s estimate. Nearly seven years after Superstorm Sandy, the City has no plan for flood protection before the project is complete.

The City’s plan is problematic and needs to be reconsidered.

  1. The environmental impact of the construction project would be devastating, with all existing trees and other plant life destroyed and the loss of significant park components such as the Seal Park and the FDR-era amphitheater.
  2. Construction will close more than 60 acres of parkland along the East River without any plan to replace this vital recreation space during the time of construction.
  3. The City’s track record with large-scale construction projects, in particular those at East River Park, offer no assurances that construction (and loss of park use) will last only 3½ years.
  4. The City has provided no independent engineering review of the necessity of its proposed plan or comparative feasibility of other plans.
  5. After years of delay from the City, residents are now rushed to approve this plan based on an upcoming deadline of initial funding from the Federal government.
  6. Nearly seven years after Sandy, the City still has no plan for immediate flood protection.

We recommend the following:

  1. Commit to any East River Park construction in stages so that parts of the park are kept open and usable for the duration of the project.
  2. Work immediately with our Congressional representatives to extend the deadline to spend Federal funds, and delay the approval of this project, so that the ESCR review process is not rushed.
  3. Convene an independent panel of engineering specialists to review the City’s current plan and proposed alternatives like East River Alliance’s recommendation to extend the park over the FDR Drive. Expert panels have either reviewed or been proposed for large-scale construction projects on the L Train, BQE, and East Side Connector; the Lower East Side deserves the same consideration.
  4. Provide immediate flood protection, even if short-term. There are many types of deployable barriers that could be used to protect the Lower East Side from storm surges while a long-term solution is thoroughly explored.
  5. Commit to other plans to mitigate the impact of loss of park access, including providing transportation to alternate fields, investing in playgrounds and parks in the neighborhoods adjacent to East River Park, and designating alternate protected bike lanes as part of the East River Greenway
  6. Preserve and repurpose existing historical and landscape components of the park.

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