Save East River Park! Urge NYC to Develop a Resilient Plan with Consensus from Community!
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By signing the petition below, we demand that NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio and our City Council Members stop the destruction of East River Park:
(1) Reject the city’s “Preferred Alternative 4,” of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project that will demolish East River Park and rebuild it 8-10 feet higher.
(2) Provide interim flood protection to protect the neighborhood now and to protect the park from the city’s rush to start the current misguided flood control plan.
(3) Adapt the flood protection and resiliency plans developed by the community and Rebuild by Design.
(4) Protect our park/environment, our families and health, and our community from flooding through real, sustainable solutions that address the climate crisis.
Here’s why we must stop the city’s East River Park flood control plan:
In a misguided effort to protect the Lower East Side coast of Manhattan from storm surges and rising sea levels due to climate change, the city plans to spend 1.5 billion dollars to bulldoze the entire 58-acre park East River Park in lower Manhattan.
NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio has said that he wants to address climate change through progressive action and policy. However, his plan for East River Park is not progressive. Killing nearly 1,000 mature trees that absorb CO2 and other harmful gases in a park right next to a six-lane highway will cause even more irreversible damage to our immediate neighborhood and the earth’s climate. Bulldozing the park will destroy the wonderful biodiversity that includes 82 bird species, 96 insect species, and more than 200 plant species.
More than that, the demolition of East River Park is climate injustice. The park has long been an urban oasis for our extremely diverse Lower East Side Community. Our low-and-middle-income park users, largely people of color, will be deprived for years of the only nearby open space with fresh air, shade trees, playing fields, a unique seal fountain for kids to play in, a historic amphitheater, and the Lower East Side Ecology Center in a historic building. The loss of the park will harm residents’ mental and physical health.
Most of the park would be closed for a minimum of five years, but given the city’s track record of projects, the community has no faith in this timeline. For instance, when the 1.2 mile East River Park Promenade, which needed repair, was closed in 2001, rebuilding didn’t start until 2005 with a two-year projected completion. It took until 2011 to finish it. That was a minor project compared to entirely rebuilding the whole park. This kind of delay is typical for public building projects in New York. Realistically, East River Park will be under construction for many many years.
Meanwhile, the city proposals for alternate park spaces are either far afield or pitiful.
There is a better plan. The community, including over 300 stakeholders, engaged in a collaborative community planning and design process that was led by Rebuild by Design. This over four-year process resulted in a plan that provided flood protection without closing and destroying the entire park. East River Park would become a natural floodplain with integrated earth berms. The refurbished park would reflect the diverse needs of the Lower East Side and East Village community. It was because of the strength of this community-led design, that this community secured $335 million in federal flood protection funding.
This plan can be adapted to ensure that much of the park can be preserved and stay open during the building of flood protection along the FDR Drive.
This community plan was summarily scrapped by the city in the fall of 2018. One of the main reasons was to prevent the closure of any lanes of the FDR Drive right next to the park. The city chose cars over the community.
The city is planning to bring in the bulldozers in 2020. Together we can stop this misguided and destructive scheme.
We are encouraging all to join our efforts to support this critical fight for climate justice. Please support and sign this petition to demand that the city rebuild our park in a way that addresses temporary and long-term flood protection, park preservation and climate justice.
For even more information
East River Park ACTION is a grassroots group that organizes our community to oppose the city’s destructive plan.
The August 2019 issue of the Indypendent outlines the terrible plan and its consequences.
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