BY FANNI FRANKL
Following the collapse of a pathway along the East River Esplanade two weeks ago, pressure is being put on the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to fully inspect the esplanade’s structural integrity.
After years of neglect from the city to repair the waterfront despite inspections, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) has had enough. Congresswoman Maloney called on action from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver in a statement detailing the urgency of these repairs to provide for the safety of people.
“Like many NY-12 residents and members of Community Board 8, I was disturbed to see a sinkhole erupt in the middle of a busy pathway along the East River Esplanade,” she stated. “Not only has this sinkhole prevented New Yorkers from accessing this precious green space, but it has also forced cyclists and pedestrians to share narrow patches of pavement — creating a dangerous bottleneck.”
Following this statement, Commissioner Silver committed to begin repairs on 76th Street sinkhole within two weeks and complete them as quickly as possible.
This statement came as a response to many residents who had expressed concerns over the worrisome conditions on the esplanade. According to Jennifer Ratner, the Board Chair of the Friends of the East River Esplanade, these issues have been an ongoing problem for the esplanade, with no adequate response from the city. The Friends of the East River Esplanade are an advocacy group bent on restoring and reinventing the Esplanade from 60th to 120th Streets.
“Over ten years our group has been urging public officials to repair and reinvent the waterfront in the Upper East Side but things never seem to move forward,” Ratner said. The timeline for repairs is forever getting pushed into the future and even with appropriate funding, they’ll say that they won’t have the funding.”
Ratner emphasized that the Esplanade is one of the few places left to go for open space and that the city is allowing it to deteriorate.
Residents, much like Ratner, remain skeptical that repairs will be done, especially since improvements have not really been made in the East Harlem district even after the $35 million allocated money was given towards the East River Esplanade renovations in 2014.
The design process to renovate the Esplanade was supposed to start in March of this year with construction set to begin by 2021, according to the Parks Department.
Congresswoman Maloney hopes to have a virtual meeting soon with the Park’s commissioner to discuss these deteriorating conditions on the Esplanade and the City’s plans to address them.