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City to close East River Park’s southern half and entire bikeway

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Following the defeat earlier this week of a legal appeal to block the bullozing of East River Park for a resiliency project, the city promptly announced it is moving forward with work in the park’s southern portion, plus closing down the park’s entire bikeway.

On Nov. 4, pending the decision on the appeal, an Appellate Division court panel had granted a temporary restraining order halting any work in the park for the East Side Coastal Resiliency megaproject.

Addressing a meeting of the project’s Community Advisory Group on Thurs., Dec. 2, a city official said that, starting Mon., Dec. 6, construction fencing would now be installed to close off the park south of Stanton Street, and that workers would be  “clearing and grubbing” in this area through December.

A slide presented at Monday’s Community Advisory Group meeting on the East Side Coastal Resiliency project indicates that, as of Mon., Dec. 6, the part of the park below Stanton Street and the park’s entire shared bikeway will be closed.

This no-go zone would include everything south of the dance oval / labyrinth, which is located just north of the Brian Watkins Tennis Center. The historic amphitheater at Corlears Hook would also be in the closed-off area.

In October 2020, artists and graffitists staged an “art attack” on the amphitheater in an effort to block E.S.C.R. by invoking the 1990 federal Visual Artists Rights Act.

In addition, the city plans to fence off and close the shared bikeway / walkway running the full length of the park’s western edge as of Mon., Dec. 6, as well.

The Delancey Street footbridge to the park will also be closed.

According to Tommy Loeb, a member of East River Park ACTION who attended the CAG meeting, the city rep said there would be “limited access” to the park above Stanton Street. A slide presented during the meeting indicates only a few entry points to the park.

Loeb said the only access that would be preserved in the park’s southern portion would be a passageway to the ferry dock at Corlears Hook.

“We are looking at our legal options,” he said.

As for what exactly “grubbing” means, the park activist shared the definition from dictionary.com, which says, “to dig; clear of roots, stumps, etc.; to dig up by the roots; uproot (often followed by up or out).”

The Village Sun reached out for clarification to a spokesperson from the Department of Design and Construction but did not get an immediate response.

In its Nov. 30 ruling against the “alienation” lawsuit, the Appellate panel acknowledged the hardship the E.S.C.R. plan would cause locals. The project would raze the entire park, then add fill soil to raise it 8 feet to 10 feet, putting it above the floodplain.

“We do not discount petitioner’s concerns that this project will impose a burden on the surrounding community that houses tens of thousands of residents,” the court wrote. “…The city expects that any burden caused by the project will be rewarded with a rejuvenated East River Park that is well protected from future storm surges, allowing the park to fufill its role as a recreational area for many years and future generations.”

Meanwhile, Arthur Schwartz, the attorney on the community lawsuit fighting the park scheme, said that, following Monday’s setback, he intends quickly to appeal the case to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.

11 Comments

  1. Water Street resident Water Street resident December 3, 2021

    Where in the world is Councilmember Margaret Chin? It’s obvious she doesn’t care about the land-use process and allows any developer to do whatever they want in the district she misrepresents daily.

    • LES3025 LES3025 December 3, 2021

      You seem to be mistaken. This project is being done by the city to make the park and neighborhood more resilient. Developers are not involved and no housing is being built.

      • Carol from East 5th Street Carol from East 5th Street December 4, 2021

        LES3025 – Yes this project is being “done” by the city but “executed” by developers who line the pockets of City Hall with huge contributions to their election campaigns. You know full well that there was an original plan that was created with input from the community and then ditched 6 months later with a plan costing 4X the price of the original plan. Gee, do you really think developers are not involved with this change of plans? And Margaret Chin as well as Carlina Rivera who are both on the City Council have a huge influence as to what is approved in their districts.

        • LES3025 LES3025 December 4, 2021

          Correct, unlike you I do not think everything I don’t like is done nefariously by “the developers.”

      • Kim Kim December 6, 2021

        Sadly, this is incorrect. The park will be constructed of concrete and astroturf, which offer no absorbency and work AGAINST resiliency. The grass and trees currently do much to absorb rain and floodwater. With all the trees gone, the area will also be up to 30 degrees hotter in the summer — the kind of heat that killed several hundred people in NYC this year. Add the dust from a million tons of fill in the air, plus the lack of mitigation from the trees offsetting the emissions from the FDR Drive, and we’re going to have an environmental catastrophe. Not to mention there is currently no vetted plan or funding for drainage, and the parallel conveyance system they claim to be installing could likely make flooding much worse on the FDR. The ESCR plan is rooted in greed, not science.

        • LES3025 LES3025 December 6, 2021

          Basically nothing you said here is true. The park will not be constructed out of astroturf. You just made that up. Area will be 30 degrees hotter? There wasn’t a 30-degree temperature difference between the park and streets before the project started, so it’s crazy to think somehow there will be an even more drastic difference when the project is completed. This is all nonsense.

  2. broken hearted LES broken hearted LES December 3, 2021

    This is so sad and wrong. How can de Blasio do this to our neighborhood? Will none of our elected officials speak up? COVID is here, extreme heat is here, climate change is here — and he is getting rid of our largest green space and cutting down hundreds of trees for no good reason. We could have a floodwall without destroying the ENTIRE park. And yet the FDR Drive will keep on buzzing and producing carbon. The world is upside down.

  3. Carol from East 5th Street Carol from East 5th Street December 3, 2021

    Add Carlina Rivera to the that list. As goes the southern district so goes the northern district. So much for “Jenny from the Block” representing her constituents.

  4. Rosita Nieves Rosita Nieves December 4, 2021

    There are too many concerns about this project, whether it’s for our best interests or the developers. We will see in the future. I’d rather deal wth the outcomes of facing another Sandy ’cause I have. I live in the East River projects all my life since childhood & experienced it, rather than to experience this destruction. Although Sandy destroyed many trees. Not only the trees, the squirrels, birds, insects, etc who are nesting are gonna be destroyed again but by the hands of people. Let alone the rats who might be invading across to us. We already have an infestation of them. But as we are witnessing, property is much more important than its poor inhabitants.

  5. AF AF December 7, 2021

    Even if we lost this one, I think it may be an important contribution to a larger fight we will win eventually. We all know that a car-free, green Manhattan is the inevitable future. It’s important to record those names, for the time when they’ll be trying to falsify their records.
    The new plan to build a park over the Cross Bronx Expressway gaining support now could let this current ESCR plan look out of date very soon.

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