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.
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.