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Reminders: March and rally for East River Park tomorrow; 'Bury the plan not the park'


[Photo by Stacie Joy]

As previously reported, community group East River Park Action has organized a march and rally tomorrow (Sept. 21) to protest the city’s plan to bury East River Park with eight feet of landfill starting this March as part of protecting the east side against future storms and rising seas.

Here’s part of the advisory via the EVG inbox…

“We support a plan that will provide much-needed flood protection. At the same time it should expand the park and reduce greenhouse emissions in response to the climate crisis,” says Howard Brandstein, director of the Sixth Street Community Center and a rally organizer.

The flood plan will have devastating consequences for residents in NYCHA housing and other low-and-middle income apartments bordering the park.

“Dust and other pollution from construction will affect air quality. Neighborhood residents already have high levels of asthma and 9/11-related upper respiratory illnesses,” says Lower East Side resident Pat Arnow, who is an organizer of the protest. “NYCHA buildings are undergoing heavy resiliency construction now. Some of their areas look like a war zone.”

The closure of the park for at least three and a half years will rob residents of critical green space, ball fields for team sports, and areas for community gatherings.

“An earlier HUD-funded plan, designed with the community over four years, was summarily scrapped by the city last year,” says Brandstein. “This plan was far more comprehensive. It provided flood control and resiliency without destroying the park, which has long been an oasis for our diverse Lower East Side and East Village neighborhoods.”

The march begins at noon in Tompkins Square Park. Demonstrators will wind through the neighborhood across the Sixth Street footbridge to East River Park. At 1:30 they’ll rally at the Labyrinth (north of the Williamsburg Bridge) followed by a parade down the promenade to a burial site beneath a tree with a 10.5 foot circumference. (Find more info here.)

ICYMI: This is all part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR), a coastal protection initiative jointly funded by the city and the federal government aimed at reducing flood risk due to coastal storms and sea-level rise. ESCR is the first element of the city’s “Big U” plan to protect Lower Manhattan from surges like those seen during Superstorm Sandy.

As part of the project, city officials, starting next spring, plan to close East River Park for three-plus years, elevating it with 8- to 10-feet of soil and chopping down trees, etc., from Montgomery Street to East 13th Street.

City officials have said that this is a better course of action compared to the previous plan that was in the works with community input before Mayor de Blasio‘s team changed course last fall. Among other things, city officials claim that the new plan will shave nearly six months off of the projected timeline and will be less disruptive for residents living in the area.

[Illustration via East River Park Action]

The project is now undergoing a third-party review by a Dutch consultant hired by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the City Planning Commission is expected to vote on the plan in the next step of the public review process before it heads to City Council for a final vote this fall.

Previously on EV Grieve:
• Last week to comment on the city’s plans to close East River Park (Aug. 27)

• An annual reunion in East River Park (Aug. 4)

• City Planning Commission will hold its hearing on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project tomorrow (July 30)

• Next steps in the plan to rebuild East River Park (July 19)

• This week’s public meeting about stormproofing East River Park (July 16)

• A visit to East River Park (July 10)

• Here are the next meetings for you to learn more about stormproofing plans for East River Park (June 3)

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