How Will Resiliency Work Impact Access to East River Park? Elected Officials Ask For Answers

East River Park tennis courts. Photos by Sarah Sluis.

East River Park tennis courts. Photos by Sarah Sluis.

Local elected officials are expressing concerns about the impact on the local community when construction begins on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project.

Now scheduled to start late next year, the multi-million dollar, federally funded initiative will create a series of berms and flood walls, as well as new recreational spaces. While most everyone agrees that flood protection is a high priority, there are worries about how construction, expected to last at least five years, will be handled.

The first phase of the project, from 25rd Street to Montgomery Street, will involve shutting down sections of East River Park. State Sen. Daniel Squadron and other local office holders recently sent a letter to the Mayor’s Office of Recovery & Resiliency and the city’s Parks Department. It called on their offices to, “develop construction
plans jointly with the community to minimize the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods and on East River Park.”

“While we support (the resiliency) work,” the elected officials said, “we continue to hear from constituents concerned about the potential effects of project construction.”

Specifically, they mentioned the tennis courts in East River Park. Plans are being developed to install underground storm drainage devices below the courts. City Council member Rosie Mendez allocated $500,000 to renovate the courts, but diverted those funds elsewhere when the resiliency plans began to take shape.

Mendez also allocated more than $460,000 for a wetlands project in East River Park being implemented by the LES Ecology Center.  The letter stated, “It’s important to know how (the resiliency project) will impact the proposed wetlands, and whether the existing funds should be reallocated to another project.”

The elected officials concluded, “We request that you develop and present plans to the community that will
mitigate the impact of ESCR’s construction on the surrounding neighborhoods and East River
Park’s many facilities, to the extent possible.”