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

Councilmember Carlina Rivera’s Testimony at Public Hearing on East Side Coastal Resiliency Project

September 17, 2019

Thank you for allowing me to submit this testimony on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, or ESCR.

It’s been nearly seven years since Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New York City, but the effects that storm had on the Lower East Side and the Five Boroughs can still be seen and felt today. Our neighborhood and many others are still recovering and rebuilding from the $19 billion in damage and economic losses that Sandy wrought. And for the families of the 43 New Yorkers who lost their lives, their lives will never truly be fully healed.

As a former community organizer who led the emergency response to Sandy and participated in the Rebuild by Design program, and today as a Council Member who is responsible for the safety of over 160,000 New Yorkers, I understand the seriousness of the crisis we face from climate change and increased sea levels and storm surge. I also understand that $335 million of the budget for this project comes from federal FEMA funding that will by rule expires in 2022. If we allow those funds to disappear, this project will not be able to move forward and we will almost certainly never get that money back from a Trump administration and Congress that has continually stripped funding for state and local infrastructure projects. That is why it is imperative we get this project done quickly and correctly for our community.

Let’s be absolutely clear — this city is not living up to that second point. As Community Board 3 perfectly framed it in their resolution on this item, “the ESCR process since Fall 2018 has frayed trust in government and public agencies because of the drastic change in plan design done without community consultation, despite the needs of the community who look to their government to supply desperately needed protection of their lives and homes.”

It’s why I demanded an apology from the city, and why Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and I hired an independent consultant to review the project’s design. While I look forward to the results of this expert review from the Netherlands-based environmental consulting group Deltares, I will continue to urge the city to finally commit to other key concerns.

The most disappointing of all of these concerns is the lack of details regarding a phased-in approach to construction. When my Council colleagues and I held a hearing on this project in January, Jamie Torres-Springer, the First Deputy Commissioner at the city’s Department of Design and Construction, said we’d have more details on phased-in construction in “a few months.” It’s now September, and the city continues to drag its feet and fails to live up to its promise for honest and open communication.

Residents deserve to know all the details regarding a phased in approach and every effort must be made to ensure that residents can still enjoy sections of the park while construction continues.

In addition, our community’s elected officials called for interim flood protection measures (IPFM) during construction of ESCR. In a letter to our offices, DDC Commissioner Lorraine Grillo wrote that an “analysis of existing conditions” did not find IPFM to be an effective solution for the ESCR area. While IPFM is not designed to protect neighborhoods from Sandy-level events, they can ensure critical infrastructure remains operational during more frequent, less severe storms. The City must share the details of the analysis mentioned in their letter with our offices and with the independent reviewer to guarantee that there aren’t certain interim protection options that could be used for our community’s most important infrastructure.

Some of our other concerns that must be met include:

  • A study for long-term decking and greening of the FDR Drive.
  • A sufficient detour for users of the East River Greenway.
  • A plan to safely move the Seal Water Park sculptures to a nearby park and have them safely returned after conclusion of the project.
  • A new administrative facility with non-for-profit and community space in the new East River Park.
  • A long-term commitment to a community-approved entity to generate revenue for East River Park.
  • A temporary site for the LES Ecology Center in the surrounding neighborhood and a rebuilt and updated Center in the park when it reopens.
  • Finalizing sufficient, alternative active and passive open space mitigation and enhancements at both Parks and other city agency facilities.
  • Written confirmation that all local youth and school sports organizations will have permits near the project area at specific locations.
  • A commitment to additional barbecue areas where they are safe and do not conflict with other recreation.
  • And a hazardous material mitigation plan that goes beyond typical mitigation efforts to ensure the safety and health of all New Yorkers.

The city has recently informed our office they would make certain commitments, including the planting of 1,000 neighborhood trees and the installation of 40 bioswales beginning this fall, new lighting at six neighborhood sport fields, improvements to turf fields at six sites, new sports coatings and painting at various parks and playgrounds, enhanced barbecue areas, the conversion of the LaGuardia Bathhouse demolition area to a turf field, “spruce-ups” at 16 NYCHA park and play sites, nine new Parks staff for the neighborhood, and a commitment to keep all East River Park staff on the East Side of Manhattan, below 34th Street.

But it is hard to balance these very important measures with the continued silence from the city on the rest of our demands.

If the city wants the votes of Council Member Powers, Chin, and I when this project comes to the City Council, they can not wait until our hearings to start sharing this information. They need to address these concerns now so that our community can assess all factors along with the independent review that is slated to be completed by September 23.

2x marches in 30h: Hit the pavement for climate, for parks

Get your marching shoes on, because you’ve got two chances to hit the pavement in 30 hours: first for climate action, then for East River Park.

Friday, September 20

12:00 pm — Assemble at Foley Square
1:00 pm — March to Battery Park
3:30 – 5:00 pm — Rally at Battery Park

Three days before the UN Climate Summit in NYC, young people and adults will strike all across the world to demand transformative action be taken by governments to address the climate crisis.

16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg headlines the Battery Park rally, with special performances by Jaden and Willow Smith. NYC Public School students have an excused absence if they are picked up by a parent or guardian to attend the rally.

Saturday, September 21

12:00 pm — March from Tompkins Square Park to East River Park
1:30 pm — Rally at the East River Park Labyrinth (just north of Williamsburg Bridge)

The City’s controversial plan to destroy, then rebuild, East River Park for flood protection is nearing a critical phase. An independent report from Dutch environmental group Deltares is due this weekend. Next week the City Planning Commission is expected to vote on the plan. And soon after that, City Council will have a chance to make its final judgement.

Park advocates will take to the street Saturday to demand a better plan that protects the neighborhood from flooding without destroying East River Park.

Early voting on the Lower East Side

For the first time this year, early voting is available to New Yorkers starting ten days before Election Day.

In our neighborhood, JHS 56 at Henry Street and Clinton Street will be available to voters starting on Saturday, October 26.

Early voting hours:

SaturdayOctober 2610 am – 4 pm
SundayOctober 2710 am – 4 pm
MondayOctober 289 am – 5 pm
TuesdayOctober 297 am – 8 pm
WednesdayOctober 309 am – 5 pm
ThursdayOctober 319 am – 5 pm
FridayNovember 17 am – 8 pm
SaturdayNovember 210 am – 4 pm
SundayNovember 310 am – 4 pm

East River Park project gets independent review

The East River park flood protection plan is getting a much-needed independent review by Hans Gehrels of the Dutch environmental group Deltares.

Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Carlina Rivera announced this week that they had secured funding for the review and that Gehrels’ report would be ready by September 23, when the City Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the City’s plan to raise the park 8-9 feet for flood protection.

This is a huge win for community groups that have been pressing for third party expert review, including Grand Street Democrats. Brewer and Rivera deserve thanks for following through on this request.

With so much skepticism about the City’s plan to destroy the park in order to save it, as well as the optimistic 3-1/2 year timeline the City has attached to its proposal, this independent review should help settle some fundamental questions and guide Rivera and her colleagues on the City Council when the plan reaches them for final approval this fall.

Gehrels is accepting comments from the community and I encourage you to send him your questions and opinions so he has a full understanding of the project’s scope and human impact in the short time he has available:

Tuesday 7/30: Democratic Debate Watch Party at Randall’s BBQ

Join us on Tuesday for the first night of the second round of 2020 Democratic debates. Randall’s BBQ on Grand Street will have a happy hour drink menu, plus their usual delicious meats and sides, available to Grand Street Dems members.

The debate doesn’t start until 9:00 8:00 but you’re invited to join us starting at 8:30 7:30 — come early to save a seat!

Monday 7/29: Housing Town Hall with Yuh-Line Niou

The Democratic State Legislature this spring pushed past decades of dominance by landlords to pass strong protections for renters in New York City and the rest of the state.

For too long, the real estate lobby has pushed legislators to weaken rent regulations with the result that thousands of rent-controlled apartments in NYC have been allowed to become market-rate, driving housing inequality, housing instability, and homelessness in the city. This year’s new laws dramatically reverse that trend and — importantly — make the new regulations permanent, instead of being subject to new rounds of lobbying every few years.

On Monday evening, Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou is holding a Town Hall with representatives from GOLES, Legal Aid Society, and Mobilization for Justice to present an overview of the new rent laws and to answer any questions that community have.

Monday, July 29, 2019, 6:00 pm
Manny Cantor Center, 197 East Broadway