East River Park plan opponents to march in protest

BY GABE HERMAN | As opposition to the city’s hotly contested East Side Coastal Resiliency Project continues, East River Park ACTION will march and protest against the plan on Sat., Sept. 21.

The ad-hoc East Village/Lower East Side community group adamantly rejects the $1.45-billion flood-prevention project, which is currently slated to close East River Park for three and a half years and raise the existing park’s level by dumping 8 to 9 feet of dirt on top of it.

East River Park ACTION favors a plan that uses floodwalls and berms — grassy levees — that it says would preserve much of the park and protect it just as well as the city’s plan.

A poster for the Sept. 21 march and rally. (Twitter/East River Park ACTION)

“The city is making this neighborhood of low-and-middle income people pay for climate change with a drastic plan that will kill every bit of greenery that cleanses the air in a neighborhood with already high asthma rates,” said Pat Arnow, the group’s founder, who is a Lower East Side resident.

On Sept. 21, the group will start marching at Tompkins Square Park at noon. They will then go through the East Village to Councilmember Carlina Rivera’s office on E. Fourth St., where they will try to convince her to oppose the plan. Rivera recently joined Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to commission an independent review of the city’s plan.

The march will then continue over the E. Sixth St. foot bridge into East River Park.

“This total destruction of 57 acres is wrong and insane, on so many levels,” said Victor Weiss, an East Village resident. “We need to at least have our local elected leaders supporting the people here.”

Once inside East River Park, the marchers will hold a rally, with music and speeches, at the park’s Labyrinth, just north of the Williamsburg Bridge. That, in turn, will be followed by a ceremonial parade along the park’s promenade, during which protesters will hold a mock funeral, signifying that they want to “bury the plan, not the park,” according to an announcement by the group.

The march and rally will happen two days before the City Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on Mon., Sept. 23, on the project’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP, application. After that, the project will then go to the City Council for the deciding vote.