BY GABE HERMAN | As the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) Project begins its process through the City Council, there continues to be some community pushback, including a petition signed by over 1,800 local NYCHA tenants who oppose the current flood protection plan at East River Park.
A group called NYCHA Speaks is behind the petition, which demands that local officials, including Councilwoman Carlina Rivera and State Senator Brian Kavangh, reconsider the current plan, which would raise the park by 8 to 10 feet along 2.5 miles of the park along the East River.
“Our homes are next to the East River Park,” the petition reads, “and we are concerned about the impact that the full-scale destruction of the park will have on our health and quality of life.”
Concerns about the city’s plan, according to Yvette Mercedes and Curtis White of NYCHA Speaks, include pollution from contaminants being released into the air, and the loss of green space, including nearly 1,000 trees. The group said it has sent the petition to local officials, including all City Council members, state senators, assembly members and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The petition adds, “We also demand temporary flood protection measures that can be put in place immediately to ensure that we are safe while the City works on a better and less destructive plan.”
Rivera and Kavanagh did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Another activist group, East River Park ACTION, has recently presented its own petition against the plan, which collected around 2,000 local signatures.
In response to community protests about the park being fully shut down for the construction process, the mayor announced in October that work would be done in phases, allowing for some of East River Park to always remain open.
On Nov. 4, the current plan passed the City Council Subcommittee on Landmarks, Sitings and Dispositions. The next vote is scheduled for Nov. 12 in the Land Use Committee, and then a full vote in the City Council on Nov. 14.
Before the plan passed the subcommittee vote, Mayor de Blasio announced on Nov. 4 the formation of a community advisory group for the project. The group will include local stakeholders, according to the mayor, who will give input from the community about the project before its scheduled groundbreaking in spring 2020 and during construction.
“The East Side Coastal Resiliency Project will protect New Yorkers for years to come, and at every step of the way, we will continue to ensure the community is kept informed of progress and that their voice is heard,” said de Blasio when the advisory group was announced.