BY THE VILLAGE SUN | It’s hard to imagine anything possibly upstaging supercute dogs — and their humans — strutting in goofy Halloween costumes, but a group of East River Park advocates pulled it off.
As the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade was going on at the East River Park amphitheater Saturday afternoon, the activists stormed across the stage, toting a large bannner reading, “Save East River Park.”
Groups including East River Park Action and 1,000 Trees 1,000 People are fighting to stop the East Side Coastal Resiliency project. The contentious plan would bury the existing 60-acre East Village/Lower East Side waterfront park under 8 feet to 10 feet of new infill soil to raise it above the floodplain. The park’s nearly 1,000 mature trees would be felled for the $1.3 billion project.
“The crowd was stunned, mystified,” photographer Milo Hess said of the pooch paradegoers’ reaction to the protest. “No cheering. People were saying, ‘It’s no way to get your message across.’ The activists were screaming, ‘Yes it is!'”
The activists back an earlier plan that would not raise the park but simply construct berms along the east side of the F.D.R. Drive. This more low-impact design would allow the park to act as a natural sponge to absorb coastal floodwaters while protecting the surrounding neighborhood.
Meanwhile, City Council leadership, including, notably, Council Speaker Corey Johnson and James Brannan, the chairperson of the Committee on Resiliency and Waterfronts — who the activists say gave them his commitment — have been ducking calls to hold an emergency oversight hearing on the E.S.C.R. plan as the start of the draconian megaproject is reportedly looming.