$1.45 Billion Plan To Elevate East River Park Advances, Despite Some Local Opposition

Gothamist: The East Side Coastal Resiliency Project—the $1.45 billion plan to protect downtown Manhattan's east side against global heating and sea level rise—is one step closer to becoming reality. The City Council’s Land Use committee voted Tuesday 14-0 to move the climate plan forward, setting the stage for a full council vote on Thursday.

The ESCRP aims to protect 2.4 miles of coastline by raising the level of East River Park eight feet and installing a series of flood gates along the FDR. In an about-face last year, the de Blasio administration said the plan would require a complete closure of the 45-acre park for three years. In October, after months of public meetings and protests, the city agreed to complete the construction work in phases, with work beginning in the fall of 2020 and wrapping up by the end of 2025. Roughly half of the park will remain open at all times during the construction.

Local activists with the East River Park Action and East River Alliance say the city hasn’t done enough to address their concerns.

They argue that the current version of the plan will still leave the community vulnerable to flooding, uproot nearly 1,000 trees, and severely limit park access.

“The plan is about mitigating the construction,” said Harriet Hirshorn, an East River Alliance member. “No one is talking about the destruction of the park.”

The largest concern is that the ESCRP provides no interim flood protection measures. As of right now, East River Park acts as the only protective flood barrier this area has. But once under construction, 110,000 residents will be at risk if another strong superstorm hits during this rebuilding period. Approximately a quarter of this population live across 11 NYCHA developments adjacent to the construction areas. Read more>>