C.B. 6 approves Solar One move to Murray Hill

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Murray Hill’s barren Waterside Pier is one step closer to getting new life.

At a full-board meeting on Sept. 11, Community Board 6 passed a resolution in favor of the environmental nonprofit Solar One’s plan to move its Stuyvesant Cove programming to Waterside Pier, between E. 38th and E. 41st Sts.

The potential move is in response to the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, under which the city plans to close the site of Solar One’s current outdoor programming, Stuyvesant Cove Park, between E. 18th and E. 23rd Sts., for two to three years, in order to construct multiple levees, floodwalls and deployable gates in the area between Montgomery and E. 25th Sts.

A schematic rendering showing how Solar One would look after the construction of a floodwall on its western side and the raising of areas in the park.

The contentious resiliency project was developed to protect the city from flooding caused by hurricanes and rising sea levels attributed to climate change. Construction for the resiliency project is scheduled to begin next July and take anywhere from two to five years to complete.

Borough President Gale Brewer and East Village Councilmember Carlina Rivera announced this week that Deltares, a Dutch environmental consulting group, has been hired to asses the $1.3-billion plan. However, the project has received pushback from the Downtown community, particularly the East Village and Lower East Side. Critics worry the plan would unnecessarily take away desperately needed recreation space. Residents living near East River Park have also expressed environmental concerns about the large amount of dirt that will be piled onto the park to raise it 8 to 9 feet.

C.B. 6 has expressed similar concerns in the past in regard to the E.S.C.R. project. The district is desperately low on green space and the project would cause three parks, Asser Levy (at E. 23rd St.), Stuyvesant Cove and Captain Paddy J Brown Walk (which connects Stuyvesant Cove to East River Park) to close temporarily.

The board approved Solar One’s proposal to move to Murray Hill so that locals could have some waterfront green space during the resiliency project’s construction.

Currently, the nonprofit Solar One is the steward of Stuyvesant Cove Park and uses the green space to teach students, visitors and its own interns about wildlife management, urban farming and wildlife habitats in urban space. Solar One also uses the park to host foraging walks on which guides teach attendees about the park’s history and ethnobotany.

According to Stuy Cove Park’s Emily Curtis-Murphy, Solar One plans to create a wildlife habitat at Waterside Pier by transferring rows of planters — 680 in total, with 10,000 plants — to the current 1-acre concrete desert. The space is already home to a solar shed, which the environmental group has no plans to remove. As of earlier this summer, Solar One had already filled several dozen portable containers with a variety of plants from Stuy Cove Park in preparation for the move.

The New York City Department of Design and Construction did not respond in response to questions about Solar One’s move.

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