East River Park Rebuild Plan Is A 'Joke,' Say Lower East Siders

Gothamist: The first stage of City Hall’s East Side Coastal Resiliency project to fortify lower Manhattan against future climate catastrophe is focused on East River Park, which the city has targeted for a massive overhaul to raise the landscape by eight feet from Montgomery Street to East 13th Street.

At a public hearing on Wednesday evening at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel, hosted by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, residents of the Lower East Side and surrounding neighborhoods made clear that they are not at all on board with the city’s plan, which they consider a bait and switch that could cost them their local park for an extended period of time.

“We need flood protection, but I don’t approve of the wasteful plan the city is giving us,” Anne Boster, an East 4th Street resident, testified at the hearing. “It will also waste the millions spent recently on the renovation of the track. We can’t be without a park for three and a half years. What a joke.” 

The city’s original plan was to construct flood barriers and berms along FDR Drive. But in September 2018, the city changed course to a design that could be implemented more quickly and raise more of the park above storm-surge levels. The revised plan includes elevating the park by eight feet using landfill, reconstructing its entry points and connecting bridges, redesigning the drainage system along the coastline, and installing flood gates at key locations.

Along the way, the estimated cost of the project—which would be funded by the state and federal government—rose from $760 million to $1.45 billion.

City agencies now plan to close the entire park starting in March 2020, with the project slated for completion by late 2024. Read More>>