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With City Council vote looming, NYCHA residents speak out against East Side stormproofing plan


[Along East River Park]

The City Council’s final vote on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR), the $1.45 billion proposal to protect the East Side from future storms and rising sea levels, is expected on Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, this morning, the City Council Committee on Land Use will weigh in with a vote at 11.

Ahead of these crucial votes, the community pushback continues. Late last week, a group called NYCHA Speaks circulated a letter and petition “to speak out against the lies that are being told at our expense. We are not in favor of the demolition of our park!”

Their letter, sent to local elected officials, states in part:

These petitions are being submitted to you on behalf of nearly 2,000 NYCHA residents of Lillian Wald, Jacob Riis, and Baruch Houses.

These signatures have been collected over the past weeks to show that the vast majority of NYCHA residents do NOT support Option 4 of the ESCR plan. The East River Park has been a vital part of our community for generations, and the demolition of our park will have a devastating impact on the health and stability of our families.

To name just a few of our many concerns:

· The release of contaminants into the air during the demolition and landfill phases. We already suffer a high rate of asthma in our community.

· The negative effects of the loss of much of our local green space (including almost 1,000 mature trees) during the many years of construction. There are thousands of NYCHA families that depend on the East River Park for recreation, school sports, relaxation and family gatherings — in a community that has few alternatives.

Because this plan to demolish and bury the East River Park has received widespread opposition from the community overall, it has been particularly troubling to see how the DDC and City officials have used a very small handful of NYCHA representatives as their “vote of support.”

The staged appearances of these same 2 or 3 individuals in almost every ESCR Town Hall and Public Hearing has slowly created an outrage among NYCHA residents. These individuals are not speaking truthfully for their community! This petitioning effort is a reaction to what we considered was false representation on our behalf.

The Lillian Wald, Jacob Riis, and Baruch Houses suffered the impact of Hurricane Sandy firsthand, and we are aware of the need for flood protection. However, we do not want to sacrifice our park. We see the City’s push to demolish and bury the East River Park as an assault on our history, and on our continued presence in this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. We understand that construction will need to be done to protect the neighborhood from flooding, but do not support the current plan that the City has chosen.

Last Monday, the City Council Subcommittee on Landmarks, Sitings and Dispositions voted for the plan.

Before the subcommittee vote, Mayor de Blasio announced the formation of a new community advisory group that will provide input on the design and construction progress in East River Park.

No word on who exactly will be part of this “community advisory group.”

On Thursday night, officials from the Department of Design & Construction are scheduled to present updates on the plan before Community Board 3’s Parks, Recreation, Waterfront & Resiliency Committee. That public meeting is at 6:30 p.m. in the BRC Senior Services Center, 30 Delancey St. between Chrystie and Forsyth.

Previously on EV Grieve:
• Dutch consultant files report on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (Oct. 11)

• More details on the city’s new plan to keep East River park partially open during flood protection construction (Oct. 3)

• At the march and rally to save East River Park (Sept. 21)

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

• A visit to East River Park (July 10)

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