Groups Studying How to Care For Huge New East River Park

Rendering shows new bridge over Delancey Street to East River Park.

Rendering shows new bridge over Delancey Street to East River Park.

Sometime in the fall, community meetings for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project are expected to resume. The city initially planned to kick off the public land use review for a massive East River flood protection initiative during the summer, but it was delayed. Meanwhile, Rebuild by Design, the organization that created the original resiliency concept plan, is “seeking a partner to explore and ultimately recommend potential park stewardship models.”

In a Request for Proposals (RFP) that surfaced today, Rebuild by Design, the consortium founded after Hurricane Sandy, and the local group Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) put out a call for a planning consultant to conduct a study. Here’s how they explain the scope of the study:

The maintenance of parks is a challenge in New York City, just as in many other cities around the world. To address shortages in funding and opportunities for enhancements, New York City has a history of employing the “Conservancy” model, which typically takes the form of a non-profit institution that contracts with the NYC Parks Department to operate certain parks and open spaces… While effective in maintaining quality open space, these models, often in practice and as perceived by local communities, have removed accountability and responsibilities from government, promoting exclusivity in uses, and containing amenities that may lack affordability to adjacent communities. In places like the Lower East Side where community stewardship of neighborhood gardens is strong, East River Park has the potential to become a framework where local groups, schools, sports leagues, and tenant associations could be enabled to care for and maintain the future of East River Park… Rebuild By Design is requesting proposals to explore and ultimately recommend potential stewardship models with funding mechanisms that could enhance the long-term operating budget while addressing issues of equity. While this research is focused on what specific structure may enhance ESCR in NYC, the findings could be used to inform future Rebuild by Design work in local, national, or international contexts.

The study budget is $8,000, fairly small in the context of the $760 million East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. The work is supposed to be completed by November.

The project covers an area from Montgomery Street to East 25th Street. Designers envision a series of berms and flood walls, along with new recreational areas, to protect the Lower East Side from future storms on the scale of Hurricane Sandy. Groundbreaking must occur by next spring, or the city risks losing some of the federal funding allocated for the project. The initiative is already many months behind schedule.

There’s a separate flood resiliency project below Montgomery Street. It just so happens there’s a public meeting for the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project tonight. More details about that here.