Flood Protection Will Cost Lower Manhattan Residents Time without Beloved East River Park

NY1: Vocal opponents of a proposed $1.3 billion coastal resiliency project on lower Manhattan’s East Side outnumbered supporters six to one at the City Planning meeting this week.

The big concern: the closure of East River Park for more than three years during construction. The Park opened 80 years ago and has athletic fields and open space on which residents depend, but the city plans to close the mile long green space, as well as all the recreation areas from Montgomery Street to 25th Street periodically over the three and half year project to create flood barriers protecting the area.

"In order for us to have an active construction site, the East River Greenway will have to be closed,” Jamie Torres-Springer of the Department of Design and Construction told the City Planning Commission Wednesday.  

The Department of Design and Construction formally presented its latest East Side Coastal Resiliency Proposal to the city Planning Department, detailing how it would improve waterfront access, recreation areas and open space, while preventing the kind of flooding the inundated the area during Hurricane Sandy. Officials also addressed changes made in January that generated community opposition.

“It includes the same program but a different engineering approach to deliver the project,” said Torres-Springer, who was interrupted by boos from the audience.

The old plan would have put a flood a wall between the Park and the FDR Drive, limiting construction to nights and requiring lane closures.

This one would simply raise the Park eight feet, essentially making it the flood barrier, while reducing the project timeline to three and half years, from five. 

"We agree with the building of the barrier.  That is very much needed,” said Adolfo Morales of the United Athletic Association. “We do not agree that the East River (Park) needs to be closed completely for a three year span."

Park goers want the construction to commence in stages to keep some recreation areas open at all times, something on which officials say they are working.

Still, 48 opponents of the proposal signed up to speak at the planning hearing, and just eight were in favor of it.

“They're basically going to take 2.2 miles of New York City shoreline and destroy every living thing along that shoreline,” said East Village Resident Amy Berkov. Read more>>