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Fear & Loathing in East River Park

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The following post was authored by Yori Yanover of the Grand Street News. The Lo-Down welcomes your articles, editorials, photos and video submissions.  You can reach us at tips@thelodownny.com (or via the link in our left-hand sidebar).

East River promenade reaching south of Williamsburg Bridge. Photo by Yori Yanover

On my morning walk this past weekend, after shul, I decided to check out how far the East River Park promenade renovation has reached. I’m happy to report that the railing and the pavement, which start up near 14th Street, now go all the way down to the old fireboat house, south of the WB.

It’s an old, personal scar for me, this promenade. I will never forget the day, on the eve of the Fourth of July, 2000, when then Mayor Giuliani was informed there were holes the size of a small car in the promenade pavement, and he ordered the whole damned thing fenced off. Then, for years, the city spent much money on police patrols to prevent cyclist, runners and walkers from using the promenade, and not one penny on fixing it.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the island, in Tribeca, the rich folks were getting parks and bike paths and running tracks and flowers and girls in hot pants refreshing their margaritas. Then, in 2005, the city started moving its behind on the renovation project, and has been schlepping it out for six summers. And all this time, the asphalt road alongside the FDR Drive is more potholes than road, and the Parks Dept. keeps saying they’ll pave it over once the entire project is finished, makes no sense to pave while the heavy cement trucks are still using the road. That’s five years now. Each year they promise completion next year. I was a relatively young man when this thing started, I had pep, I was four inches taller.

Construction reaches south of the fireboat house. Photo by Yori Yanover.

Walking along the newly added promenade cobblestones, a young African American man wearing a reflective green and orange vest and a helmet came up to me to order me back. Apparently, this was still a construction site. But after 10 years of the above personal drama, I switched to Ghandi mode and informed the lad I would continue my walk up to the fence and then return. He was adamant, demanding that I return at once, or he would call the cops. You do that, I told him, and continued, with ten years of history watching me.
Finally I reached the fence which still separates the finished and open part from the finished but still barred part, and turned around. By the time I reached the pedestrian crossing bridge next to the WB, I saw two cop cars with rolling lights speeding up the drive to take me away. I’m sure  Mayor Bloomberg will not understand why we down here are being so ungrateful.

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