City Council approves ESCRP — here’s Carlina Rivera’s statement

On Thursday, the City Council approved the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project unanimously; typically Council Members defer on Land Use bills to the representatives from the affected communities, which in this case meant Carlina Rivera, Margaret Chin, and Keith Powers.

Below is the email that Rivera sent out on Thursday, November 14:

Dear Neighbors,

For the last seven years, I have watched our community’s slow and painful recovery from the physical and emotional damage Superstorm Sandy wreaked on all of us. We are lucky that we haven’t seen a storm as bad as Sandy since then, but our good fortune has allowed many of us to forget just how vulnerable our coastal communities are to catastrophic destruction. But we know that as climate change accelerates we will face more intense storms, flooding, and destruction.

Today we voted to approve the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) that will not only provide real protections, but also address decades of environmental inaction from our government and provide a park that will be enjoyed by future generations, not just the current one.

Over a year ago, I moved forward with negotiations thinking of the many injustices our community has faced, from the FDR Drive built by Robert Moses with no concept of its environmental impacts, the lead lined apartments in our NYCHA campuses that have still not been repaired, and the mold in so many of our buildings that was exacerbated after the waters of Hurricane Sandy flooded our homes.

That is why the agreement we reached is so important for our communities. It not only protects us for the next 100 years, but phases in construction to keep our open space accessible while creating a world-class park with new ball fields, tennis courts, pedestrian bridges that better accommodate our neighbors with disabilities, and a revitalized amphitheater that is so important to our cultural celebrations.

With the approval of this plan we are also bringing a long list of community improvements to 17 other local park spaces and six NYCHA campuses, creating new partnerships with community gardens, extending hours at school recreation sites, and building new barbecue areas. We’re voting to expand pedestrian and bike-focused infrastructure, with commitments for new protected bike lanes in Alphabet City and the expansion of closed-street programming that includes pocket parks. And we’re planning for the future with both a new disaster-preparedness campaign for our front-line residents and a commitment to study the future of the FDR in a world that must include reduced vehicle use and emissions.

The breadth of these investments can be seen in the many groups that have announced their support, including many who have previously expressed skepticism. We’re not just talking about elected officials, NYCHA residents, Little League Directors, or park tenants. We’re talking policy experts who were behind the original push for resiliency work in New York City, including Rebuild by Design and Regional Plan Association.

You can view a full list of both commitments secured and community supporters on my website by clicking here.

But as this project spanning three Council districts moves forward, it’s clear that the community’s trust with the City surrounding this project must continue to be repaired. I certainly understand the mistrust after decades of neglect certain neighborhoods have experienced at the hands of all levels of government.

The City, at my urging, is re-visiting the interim flood protection measures (IFPMs) they said “were not feasible” and will install temporary protections. And all analyses will be provided to the community on these measures, just as we have demanded throughout this process in order to make better informed choices.

And the City will need to respect the voices of all community members and experts who will comprise the ESCR Community Advisory Group we secured funding for. Whether they’re reporting on the city’s air quality monitoring, soil testing, construction noise mitigation, or how to incorporate new ideas and feedback into the project’s design, everyone’s voices matter and should be heard in the way I have heard them in my countless meetings with local groups and park stewards. 

We have to act fast to protect the East Side. And ESCR will not just ensure that protection, but also provide a historic investment that will help our communities reverse decades of environmental injustice. Regardless of how little or greatly involved you were in this process, I hope you will all continue to speak up about ESCR and work to make this project successful for our community and a model for the rest of our City’s resiliency work to come.

Sincerely,

Carlina Rivera

Letter to Councilmembers Rivera and Chin on ESCRP

Following last week’s vote by GSD members to recommend a “No” vote on the land use application for the East River Park flood protection plan, GSD president sent the following letter to our representatives on City Council, Carlina Rivera and Margaret Chin.

on the land use application for the East River Park flood protection plan, GSD president sent the following letter to our representatives on City Council, Carlina Rivera and Margaret Chin.

Councilmembers Rivera and Chin,

I wanted to let you know that at last week’s Grand Street Dems meeting, members voted to recommend that you vote “No” on the ULURP application for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project.

The City has resisted too many of the community’s recommendations for changes to the plan, and has left too many questions unanswered about how its preferred alternative was developed, and the adverse effects its plan will have on the environment and the surrounding neighborhoods.

If delay of this project spurs the City to provide immediate flood protection to the East Village and Lower East, all the better — these neighborhoods remain unprepared for a major flood even seven years after Sandy.

We appreciate that you are both well aware of criticisms of the City’s plan and have been engaged this year in negotiations with the City to adapt its plan and get to a place where a “Yes” vote makes sense. Unfortunately, the City has not been cooperative enough, and a vote is coming soon.

Given the current status of the ULURP application for ESCRP, Grand Street Dems recommends that you vote “No.”

Respectfully,
Jeremy Sherber

Challengers line up to take on Maloney in 2020

There are now four announced Democratic challengers to Rep. Carolyn Maloney, starting to make their case for why voters should oust the 26-year incumbent.

At Grand Street Dems’ fall meeting, we had a chance for brief introductions to all four challengers.

Lauren Ashcraft, Suraj Patel, Erica Vladimer, and Peter Harrison (clockwise from top left).

Learn more about the candidates:

We plan on having an endorsement meeting in January when we’ll have more time to hear from all the candidates.

GSD recommends NO vote on ESCRP

With a City Council vote imminent on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project — the plan to add 8-10 feet of land fill to East River Park for flood protection from Montgomery to 23rd Street — Grand Street Dems voted at our fall meeting to recommend that our Council representatives vote “No” on the ULURP application.

At our spring meeting, GSD passed a resolution expressing many reservations about the City’s plan. With most of those reservations unresolved, club members voted to reject the City’s plan and push for a new community-driven design process that could produce a better plan.

How our representatives — Carlina Rivera and Margaret Chin — vote may determine how the entire City Council votes, since on most ULURP votes Council members defer to the wishes of the local representative.

Thank you to the organizing done over the past several months by East River Alliance and East River Park Action, including several GSD members, to shed light on the many problems with the City’s plan.

GSD recommends YES on all five Charter revision proposals

At our fall meeting on October 16, Grand Street Dems members voted to recommend “Yes” votes for all five City Charter revision proposals that will be on the ballot in November.

We were fortunate to have three members of City Council with us to give us the Charter revision highlights — Ben Kallos, Mark Levine, and Brad Lander.

Councilmembers Ben Kallos, Mark Levine, and Brad Lander speaking at GSD Fall Meeting.

There will be five revisions to the City Charter that need voter approval in November:

  1. Changes to NYC elections, including introducing ranked choice voting for primaries and special elections.
  2. Reforms to the Civilian Complaint Review Board that adjudicates alleged misconduct by NYPD officers.
  3. Changes to ethics and governance statutes.
  4. Modifications to City budgeting, including allowing a rainy-day fund for the first time.
  5. Additional transparency to approving land use changes (ULURP).

There are a few very useful documents you can find online:

Again, Grand Street Dems recommends voting YES for all five Charter revision proposals on November 5.

Reading list for Wednesday’s meeting 🤓

Do you like to come prepared for a good civics forum? Then take a look at these helpful documents that lay out the options we’ll be asked to vote on:

  • Here’s a quick fact sheet on the City Charter revision proposals: FACT SHEET.
  • And here’s a longer document with more context about each part of the proposals: ABSTRACTS.

On Wednesday we’ll hear from three City Council members about the City Charter revision proposals — Brad Lander, Mark Levine, and Ben Kallos — and then vote on whether to recommend Yes or No votes to our neighbors.

10/16 at 7:00 pm: GSD Fall Meeting

Our fall meeting is a big one — please join us!

We’ll meet FOUR Democratic challengers to Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

We’ll hear from THREE members of City Council about the City Charter revision proposals on this November’s ballot.

We’ll vote on a new East Side Resiliency resolution — should our representatives vote YES or NO?

And we’ll vote for new GSD officers for the next year (president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer).

GSD Fall Meeting
October 16, 7:00 pm
Seward Coop Community Room
266 East Broadway

10/3 at 8:00 am: Council District 1 Participatory Budgeting Idea Storming

Manny Cantor Center, 197 East Broadway
Thursday, October 3, 8:00 – 10:00 am

Manny Cantor Center is hosting a morning idea-storming session with Councilmember Margaret Chin for CD1’s very first Participatory Budgeting process, where ordinary citizens (that’s you!) get to propose — and then vote on — neighborhood projects to receive City funding.

The process starts now with collecting ideas, and runs through vote week in April 2020 when any resident age 11 and up can cast a ballot for their favorite project.

(If you can’t participate in person, add ideas and comments at ideas.pbnyc.org.)