Lower East Siders riled over lost park space on the river
BY JOAQUIN COTLER
Representatives of the Parks Department,
the Economic Development
Corporation (EDC) and the design
firm AECOM addressed Manhattan’s
Community Board 3 last week, following
a lawsuit filed by several local organizations
calling for the annulment of the City
Council’s November approval of the East
Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) Project.
While the presenters could not comment
on that status of the lawsuit, they attempted
to reassure the room — populated by residents
of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Two
Bridges, and East Village neighborhoods —
that their concerns surrounding the impact
of the ESCR were being taken into account
during the planning process.
The ESCR, a $1.45 billion project developed
in the wake of Hurricane Sandy,
is jointly funded by the City of New York
and the federal government. The proposed
project extends from 25th St. to Montgomery
Street on Manhattan’s East Side, where
it will connect with another initiative, the
Montgomery Brooklyn Bridge Coastal
The goal of the project is to reduce flood
risk due coastal storms and sea level rise,
which currently threaten the homes of over
110,000 New Yorkers, by building “one
continuous line of flood protection down
the entire East River Esplanade,” consisting
of retaining walls, flip-up floodgates, and
land-fill to raise the elevation.
“The entire waterfront of CB3 is under
some sort of construction,” said Community
Board 3 Chair Trever Holland. “But
Local residents of Manhattan’s CB3 voiced their concerns about the
East Side Resiliency Project, which would provide flood protection for
over 110,000 people but result in the loss of athletic facilities, public
art installations, and hundreds of trees.
the good news is that we will all be getting
some sort of flood protection. It is a painful
While the importance of flood mitigation
is not lost on locals, the direct impact
on the affected neighborhoods is a major
concern for many CB3 residents.
Lower Manhattan is one of the most
densely populated areas in the country,
and the park and public use spaces are of
utmost importance to its residents. Under
the proposed construction plan, much of
the current parkland would be rendered
either temporarily unusable or converted
to flood mitigation infrastructure.
And despite the renovation of the Pier 42
PHOTO BY JOAQUIN COTLER
Deck as an interim solution, baseball fields,
basketball courts, public art installations
and over 1000 trees would all need to be
moved or completely removed.
One bright spot for residents was the
announcement that the compost yard will
not be immediately affected.
But the loss of hundreds of trees — an
issue that has persisted since Superstorm
Sandy and will only be exacerbated by
the proposed construction — is a major
concern for locals.
While the city has pledged to plant 1,000
trees in the area, committee member Michael
Marino raised the concern that they
wouldn’t wind up near the waterfront, and
instead would be planted in neighboring
Community Board 6.
“These seem to be very west of East
River Park, where we will be losing most
of our trees,” Marino said.
Navé Strauss, the director of street tree
planting for the Parks Department, tried
to reassure him. “We will plant as many
trees as we can as close to the locus in East
River Park back into this community,” said
Strauss. “We’ll try to fit as many as we can
into CB3 site-specific determinations will
help us get to that goal.”
While some residents felt the city had
listened to their concerns, others felt they
would be disproportionately affected by the
“Where we live, you’re taking away our
basketball half-court and what we’re getting
nothing close to what other areas are
getting,” said one resident.
Lauren Swan from AECOM, the firm
designing the ESCR, assured the board
that every decision was made based on
environmental constraints while keeping
residents’ needs in mind.
“It is a design goal of this project to
distribute programs and amenities as equitably
as we can,” she noted. “We have
been exploring every possible option to try
to achieve that objective. If we could keep
basketball in this location we would do it.
Unfortunately, flood protection alignment
can only fit right down the middle of the
Residents await further information
from the Parks Department, the Department
of Sanitation, and the Department
of Transportation in the coming months.
Manhattan getting 10 more miles of bike lanes
BY MARK HALLUM
The city Department of Transportation
boasted that it’s ahead of
schedule in its “Green Wave”
plan announced last year, which expands
the protected bike lane networks in
In a progress report released Feb. 19,
the agency detailed not only goals they met
for 2019 but benchmarks for 2020 they’re
already on track to meet just two months
into the year.
When released, the Green Wave plan
expands previously-made Vision Zero
improvements at an unprecedented rate,
setting the goal for over 20 miles of new
protected bike lanes in the remainder of
2019 and at least 30 miles every year after
The protected bike lane network expanded
by over 21 miles in 2019, and the
NYC DOT is planning major advances in the installment of protected
bike lanes in Manhattan and Brooklyn in 2020.
DOT indicated they already have 10 new
miles approved and ready for installation.
Manhattan roadways such as 2nd Avenue,
Lower Broadway, Central Park West
and St. Nicholas Avenue will see 10 miles
of improvements in 2020.
Ed Pincar, the DOT’s Manhattan borough
commissioner, said the installments
have moved through the community board
approval process rather swiftly, whereas
the process is usually gummed up elsewhere
across the city.
Pincar noted bike lanes are in-demand
in the inner borough, and community
boards often make the initial request for
“We’re focusing on extending the existing
bicycle lane network as well as filling
those areas where we don’t have some, so
particularly in Midtown we’re thinking
about our next pair of crosstown lanes,”
Pincar said. This would would follow the
success of crosstown bike lanes along 26th
and 29th Streets.
DOT is currently looking at the area
surrounding Times Square for the next
“I can only speak for the Manhattan
experience, but we find the community
engagement process – hearing from not
only community boards, but resident, businesses,
business improvement districts –
they really help us design better projects,”
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