Daylilies in East River Park, New York. Photo by Pat Arnow © 2019

We of the East River Alliance are a coalition of community members unified in our demand for the design and construction the East Side Coastal Resiliency project (“ESCR”) along the East River waterfront between Montgomery St. and Asser Levy Park that reflects our community’s needs and values.

After Superstorm Sandy devastated our neighborhoods, the community engaged in a collaborative process with the City to design a resilient park to protect us from future storm surge and flooding. Because of the strength of our community-led design, we secured $330 million on federal flood protection funding. In the fall of 2018, without any community input, the DeBlasio administration released a new plan at a higher cost ($1.45 billion) to “elevate” the entire park, ignoring years of community effort and destroying the trust between our community and the administration.

Within the boundaries of the ESCR lie 2.4 miles of urban coastline and over 60 acres of green space that offers passive and active recreation for thousands of New Yorkers, and in particular thousands of low-income residents. The City plans to close the waterfront for over three years while constructing ESCR.

The long-range goal of the East River Alliance is to engage in a collaborative process to make the ESCR area a showcase for coastal resiliency with our community and the City working together with a transparent process that must include:

East River Park wildflowers, New York. Photo by Pat Arnow © 2019
  • A return to a transparent and community-based process with clear accountability for any changes to the community’s design choices, budget and cost metrics, construction scheduling and all environmental impacts arising from its construction;
  • Involving our community in planning environmentally sound, sustainable, innovative, aesthetically pleasing improvements that will protect our neighborhood from flooding for generations
  • Phasing of construction so parts of the waterfront and East River Park remain open and accessible throughout the construction process;
  • Uninterrupted and continued long-term City support of the environmental education and stewardship programing of the Lower East Side Ecology Center and Solar One;
  • Mitigation of the impact of the closure of the green space by enhancing and refurbishing nearby community public spaces and providing resources to access the types of spaces lost during construction;
  • Maximizing the preservation of existing natural habitat, especially trees and native species, and fostering biodiversity through development of new habitats;
  • Supporting a neighborhood-led stewardship program for long-term park protection, support  and services that will equitably provide for the needs of our community, especially marginalized community members such as people of color and low-income residents.
East River Park, New York. Photo by Pat Arnow © 2019
Photos on this page by Pat Arnow © 2019