Exclusive: Council Member Justin Brannan joins the fight to reveal redacted “ESCR Value Engineering Study”

Council Member Justin Brannan: file Photo
Photo by Dean Moses

Council Member Justin Brannan joins the search for the truth behind the redacted East Side Coastal Resiliency “Value Engineering Study.”

The ghost hunt continues for the mysteriously missing and then reappearing East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) “Value Engineering Study,” which is so heavily redacted that Council Member Brannan, the Chair of the Committee on Resiliency and Waterfronts, joins the quest in pushing Mayor Bill de Blasio to have this report fully released to the public.

The ESCR project has been an ongoing controversial $1.4 billion plan for the past three years.  Designed to reconstruct 57 acres of coastal parkland from East 25th Street to Montgomery Street, concerned residents in the East River Park Action believe this undertaking to be too invasive.  However, when prodded on how the ESCR plan is beneficial for the environment and community, the Value Engineering Study was cited, but no such report was found until February 2021. 

Graffiti reading “Save East River Park” is scrawled beside the FDR drive. Photo by Dean Moses

In January, the East River Action group filed for a Freedom of Information Request to inquire about the report and why the planed vastly changed, but they were informed no such study was on file. Then—one month later—the report was quietly released to the public with heavy redactions, making the document near unreadable.

Discovering the mysteries behind the ESCR “Value Engineering Study” has proven to be an arduous task, Council Member Justin Brannan compares it to uncovering files from Roswell or Area 51.

“Are we talking about the ESCR or the Area 51 aliens? The redacted report they released was ridiculous and insulting to the many stakeholders involved in a $1.4 billion project that will fundamentally change a large part of the community. If the Mayor’s Office has confidence in this project, then release the damn report without the redactions. Otherwise, we can only assume they are trying to hide something. We are waiting,” Council Member Brannan told amNewYork Metro.

A heavily redacted report on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project was released to the public this month.

It is with this in mind that Brannan has penned a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio requesting an unredacted copy be released in its entirety. Brannan is demanding immediate transparency from City Hall, writing a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, which will be sent on Monday, requesting the release of an unredacted copy of the ESCR “Value Engineering Study.” He believes that the full study should be shown to the public if the Mayor’s office has such confidence in this project.

 “Advocates both in favor of and against the East Side Coastal Resiliency project are rightfully eager to see the outcome of the study. This is a significant project that will fundamentally change the area and require hundreds of millions of dollars of investment from the city. As an advocate for climate adaptation and resiliency, and as someone who has not taken a position on this project, I too wish to see that the initiative will live up to its resiliency goals, and that the city’s investment is worthwhile from a sustainability standpoint,” the letter read.

Brannan’s letter has been drafted and will be in the Mayor’s inbox on April 5th. While he has not taken a stance on whether he agrees with the project, Brannan, like many others, is yearning to read whole story and not a redacted report.