Grand Street Dems Resolves to Suspend ESCR Pending Independent Review

Adopted at regular meeting 1/27/21.

In a reply to a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, NYC’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) stated that the City’s Value Engineering Study on the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) plan could not be sent because:

“DDC’s search of agency records revealed no responsive documents for [the FOIL] request.”

This means that the present massive $1.45 billion plan lacks the main justification for the change that doubled the cost and destruction.

According to a “Fact Sheet” from de Blasio’s office on Sept. 28, 2018, “The adoption of the new design follows a value engineering study performed earlier this year and a review of the project by a panel of experts with experience from around the nation.”

When an independent analyst from the Dutch firm, Deltares, hired by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, reviewed the present ESCR plan (Alternative 4) in 2019, he also requested this Value Engineering Report: “The ‘value engineering report’ leads to the conclusion that Alternative 4 can be completed faster and with a greater degree of certainty,” he wrote. However, he never saw the document. “This value engineering report is not publicly available,” he noted.

The Value Engineering Report was used by the City as justification for approving a plan that would:

  • completely raze the 46 acre East River Park;
  • kill approximately 1000 mature trees and all other vegetation in the 82-year-old park;
  • add a million tons of landfill over 1.2 miles of waterfront;
  • double the initial cost of the project plan; and
  • postpone even temporary flood protection for years.

If there is no Value Engineering Report, then there is no justification for the approved plan.

There has been a sustained outcry from community members and over 14,000 signers of petitions opposing the plan, including 2,000 NYCHA residents, who will be disproportionately affected. Advocates call for flood control that will not completely destroy the park as well as interim flood protection and robust alternate park spaces during the years of construction.

Due to this latest news, we demand the city suspend the ESCR project until it can be reviewed in full, including all documents used to support the conclusions in the City’s final environmental impact statement, by a panel of independent experts.

This position should be communicated to the Mayor and all City, State, and Federal elected officials who represent Grand Street Democrats.

GSD January Meeting: 1/27 at 7 pm with Councilmember Carlina Rivera and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams

These are the last of our 2021 candidate interviews for two races that are not heavily contested but nevertheless very important to our community — City Council District 2 and NYC Public Advocate.

GSD January Meeting
Wednesday, January 27
7:00 – 8:15 pm
Register for Zoom

We will also be participating in full candidate forums for Public Advocate on Feb. 6 and NYC Mayor on Feb. 7 ahead of our big endorsement meeting on Feb. 8.

Downtown Democrats Candidate Forum – District Attorney

There are a lot of candidates and a lot to take in, but it’s worth watching (or listening to) this candidate forum for Manhattan District Attorney since there are so many outstanding individuals running to bring real systemic justice reform to the office of Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

Grand Street Dems was proud to sponsor this forum with other Democratic clubs from Downtown Manhattan. We will do so again in January and February for the several other big NYC campaigns — Manhattan Borough President and NYC Comptroller on January 10, and NYC Mayor and Public Advocate on February 7.

Manhattan Young Dems Application for 2021 Board – Due December 21

Manhattan Young Democrats is focused on driving policy changes via legislative advocacy and grassroots organizing on issues affecting younger Americans, including affordable housing, the climate crisis, and education affordability/accessibility.

Applications to the 2021 Board are open to individuals between the ages of 18-35 who either live or work in Manhattan. Applications are due by December 21 at 11:59 pm.

Available positions include:

  • Political Director – Legislative Priorities
  • Political Director – Rapid Action Response
  • Political Director – County Committee Coordinator
  • Legal Director
  • Finance Director
  • Design Director
  • Event Director
  • Programming Director
  • Engagement Director
  • Communications Director
  • Technical Director
  • Social Media Director/Content Creator
  • College and University Liaison
  • High School Liaison
  • Create Your Own!

If you have any questions or want more information, please email mydapplications@gmail.com.

GSD December Meeting: 12/9 at 7 pm with three more candidates for Borough President

We are continuing our 2021 candidate interviews next week with three more candidates for Manhattan Borough President — Elizabeth Caputo, Lindsey Boylan, and Kim Watkins.

GSD December Meeting
Wednesday, December 9
7:00 – 8:15 pm
Register for Zoom

We’ve been holding these online candidate interviews for Grand Street Dems members for months, including with the other B.P. candidates Mark Levine, Ben Kallos, and Brad Hoylman, in order to make informed endorsements in 2021. Please come ready with questions.

Grand Street Democrats Endorses Christopher Marte for City Council District 1

Grand Street Dems is proud to announce our endorsement for Christopher Marte for City Council District 1.

Following his near-miss campaign in 2017, Chris has been relentless in his advocacy for our community. As an activist, he has fought rampant development, supported tenants facing eviction, and organized neighbors against new jails in Chinatown. As a representative to the New York State Democratic Committee, he has pushed for small-d democratic reform of our state party along with a growing progressive caucus. And as a neighbor and advocate, he has been at every community meeting, rally, and action standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the residents and small business owners of lower Manhattan.

Gigi Li, candidate for City Council (CD1)

Website: gigili.nyc
Twitter: @gigi_k_li

Thank you for the opportunity to seek the endorsement of the Grand Street Democrats.  Last week, we all took part in sending a clear message – we want a transition of leadership in the White House.  Building off that energy, we now shift our focus to local elections.  As all politics is local, the election in June will pave the way for how New York City will recover from COVID, restore the economy, and continue building on a progressive Citywide movement.   

As a third generation Lower Manhattan resident and a new mom – the future of our neighborhood is always on my mind.  I have spent my entire adult professional life advocating for change, working as a counselor/advocate for children and families impacted by domestic violence, organizing rallies at City Hall and in Albany to expand summer jobs for youth, and serving on the Mayor’s taskforce to expand the City’s afterschool system and design UPKNYC.   

Motivated to serve on the community level, I applied and was appointed to serve on Manhattan’s Community Board 3 in 2009, and was elected to serve as board chair from 2012-2016.  The ten years I spent on CB3 cemented the importance of government accessibility and accountability.  After all, it was my frustration with the government policies and bureaucracy that led me to become a social worker. 

My priorities include fighting for affordable housing and protecting existing affordable housing, preserving caregiving services in the challenging budgets ahead of us – for children and seniors, and economic recovery from COVID.  My commitment to serve the residents of LES remains steadfast, with a proven track record – leadership role in planning of Essex Crossing, fighting against NYCHA infill, navigating resiliency & recovery efforts, preserving childcare capacity and expanding SYEP capacity Citywide, and locally. 

Lower Manhattan deserves a candidate that can bring diverse coalitions together to achieve common goals, a candidate that will unify our neighborhoods.  I am committed to working hard for your support and fight for a community my family has been proud to call home – and for our future generations to have the opportunity to raise their families here. 

My extensive experience in both the nonprofit and government sectors, also serving as a chief of staff to a NYC Councilmember for the past two years has prepared me to fight for you starting on day 1.  I would be honored to have your support.     

Grand Street Dems asked each CD1 candidate to submit a statement ahead of our endorsement meeting on Sunday, November 15.