Ian Michaels, 646-939-6514, email@example.com
(New York, NY – November 1, 2021) The NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) today announced the start of phased construction activities in East River Park for the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) program. Addressing an important request from community members during the program’s development, the City will keep close to half the park open at all times during construction.
East Side Coastal Resiliency will extend storm surge protection and improve open spaces for more than 110,000 New Yorkers – including 28,000 public housing residents – on Manhattan’s East Side, from Montgomery Street up to East 25th Street.
The project will create an integrated 2.4-mile system of raised parkland, floodwalls, berms and movable floodgates to create a continuous line of protection against sea level rise and the growing threat of stronger, more severe coastal storms worsened by climate change. The project has been designed to improve waterfront access through reconstructed bridges and entry points and will also upgrade existing sewer systems to better capture and manage precipitation during storms.
Beginning the week of November 1st, phased work operations will begin with partial closure of portions of the southern end of the park and creation of new pedestrian routes to accommodate equipment movement and new construction-related fencing. Additional phased park closures will take place from November 21 into 2022 to accommodate an aggressive work schedule to ensure timely completion.
Last week workers began preparing to install a new passive lawn at the site of the compost area in the Park, which has been temporarily relocated – another step to improve recreation access during construction.
“We’ve worked hard to ensure as much park access as possible throughout the pandemic and to prepare for a partial closure of East River Park during construction,” said DDC Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer. “We recognize very much the importance of the Park to the community and we look forward to delivering a revamped park with improved access, improved recreation areas and protection from future storm surges and high tides.”
"This project will provide flood protection for more than 100,000 New Yorkers in this area and ensure that East River Park is accessible and resilient in the face of our daunting climate future. Construction will be phased while the project elevates the park above the floodplain and nearly doubles the number of trees, and we will continue to deliver new, improved, and enhanced neighborhood spaces and recreational resources for the surrounding community while work is underway," said NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff.
“Superstorm Sandy opened our eyes to the threat climate change presents to a coastal city like ours, and this groundbreaking project is key to protecting the homes of more than 100,000 of our fellow New Yorkers,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “We look forward to closely coordinating with our fellow City agencies to ensure pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle re-routing is safe and effective.”
“Our approach ensures access to portions of East River Park while construction continues, in order to deliver critical flood protection to more than 100,000 New Yorkers who are still recovering from the legacy of Hurricane Sandy,” said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate Resiliency. “This project will keep New Yorkers safe from coastal storms and rising seas for decades to come, while also investing in amenities and improving access to public spaces on the East Side of Manhattan.”
East River Park is the last section of the $1.45 billion coastal protection project’s storm surge and tidal protection to enter construction. Work in the northern areas of ESCR began in November 2020 near Asser Levy Playground and Stuyvesant Cove Park.
DDC, in coordination with the NYC Department of Transportation for traffic, pedestrian and bike lane detours, issues regular advisories to the community on progress and where future work will take place. DDC also has a full-time Community Construction Liaison (CCL) for the East River Park section of ESCR. CCL Joyce Xin, who is bilingual and fluent in Mandarin Chinese, will keep the neighborhood apprised of construction progress and can arrange special requests. Ms. Xin works on-site and is directly accessible to the public at 929-844-0408 or by email at ESCRCCL1@ddccr.com.
Residents wishing to receive notifications about construction activities can reach out to Ms. Xin to be placed on the distribution list. Residents can also sign up for the list or submit questions about the project here. DDC will also add a Spanish-speaking CCL to the project team.
NYC Parks has been making numerous improvements to local parks and open spaces as part of the City’s response to the community’s need for supplemental recreational resources during ESCR construction. Parks has also planted more than 500 of a planned 1,000 trees throughout neighborhood parks and streets, in addition to the over 1,800 that will be planted in East River Park.
In addition, NYC Parks and NYC Economic Development Corporation are also transforming Pier 42 near the southern tip of ESCR into a new community space. Amenities will include a recreation deck with a soccer field, tennis courts, adult fitness equipment and picnic tables scheduled to be completed by summer 2022, and an upland new park with a playground, comfort station, picnic area, designated bike path, shoreline access and waterfront views scheduled to be finished by summer 2023.
Tennis and field permits will be honored through the Fall permit season, until the end of November. Additionally, all ballfields in the park will stay open through November to accommodate permitted leagues.
East River Park Improvements
ESCR is designed to upgrade the community’s open spaces and recreation areas as well. The 45.88-acre East River Park will be elevated approximately eight feet with new amenities, including upgrades to the amphitheater, ballfields, tennis courts, soccer and multi-use turf fields, track and field, basketball courts, playground, comfort stations and picnic and barbeque areas. Reflecting community input, new passive-use areas will create enhanced spaces with grass and greenery, allowing expanded opportunities for relaxation and reflection along the East River waterfront.
The Tennis House, Track House and 10th Street Comfort Station will be reconstructed. ESCR will also provide new facilities including multipurpose lawns, an additional playground, additional basketball courts and solar lighting. Enhanced waterfront step-downs and embayments will allow users to better engage with the East River.
The City worked with local communities to reimagine entry to the park. Currently, East River Park is primarily accessed by steep, narrow switchback ramps. The Corlears Hook, Delancey Street, and East 10th Street bridges will be replaced with gently sloping entryways that will provide access for all New Yorkers, including those with disabilities. In addition, the Houston Street entry has been redesigned as an at-grade entry.
Increasing resiliency to climate impacts is a key objective of the project’s landscape design. Approximately 2,000 new trees, of 50 different tree species, will be planted in the reconstructed, resilient park. This diverse palette of species was selected for its ability to withstand salt spray, increased precipitation, strong winds and extreme weather.
Construction of ESCR began in November 2020, with major construction beginning in April 2021. Heavy construction for ESCR is currently taking place in Asser Levy Playground and north of East 20th Street in Stuyvesant Cove Park, where a new floodwall is rising as workers drive three different kinds of piles 100 feet or more into the ground. More than 500 feet of floodwall is already in place with more areas under construction.
A separate CCL manages community updates and special requests in northern ESCR areas above East 15th Street. CCL Nadine Harris works at the site full-time and is directly available to the community at 347-572-3057 or ESCRCCL2@ddccr.com. Residents interested in receiving project updates for areas north of East 15th Street can contact her to be added to the public distribution list for that area, or can submit their request here.
Other Open Space Improvements
Following construction, the 1.9-acre waterfront Stuyvesant Cove Park will be rebuilt with a combination of floodwalls and floodgates along its western edge. The park's planting beds will be raised where possible to keep tree roots out of the range of future sea level rise. New irrigation systems will be installed and the waterfront esplanade will receive enlarged paving and planting areas as well as new furnishings and energy-efficient LED lights.
The 2.44-acre Asser Levy Playground will be rebuilt with extensive landscaping and new playground and basketball areas using resilient materials. Murphy Brothers Playground and Corlears Hook Park will also see improvements such as new landscaping, plantings, lighting and playground equipment.
Phased construction schedules are also being employed in recreation areas outside East River Park to maximize public access to open space and recreational amenities throughout the entire project's footprint.
New Funding for Expanded Amenities
In June, Mayor de Blasio announced almost $140 million of additional funding to add more community amenities as part of ESCR, including new public restrooms, improvements to the park amphitheater and, in a separate capital project, $129 million for the new flyover bridge for the Manhattan Greenway.
The City previously sponsored a “Call for Student and Community Art” for students and local artists to submit artwork for display on banners on the fencing surrounding ESCR construction. Students whose works are selected for display will receive a $300 award while local artists will receive $1,000. All students who submitted artwork will receive a Certificate of Participation.
Funding for ESCR comes from the City and from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which provided $338 million in Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds through the “Rebuild By Design” competition.
About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15.5 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit nyc.gov/ddc.