Summerstage Returns to East River Park

Summerstage 2011 in East River Park.

The City Parks Foundation is out with the full schedule for this year’s Summerstage.  As usual, there are several late-season events planned in the East River Park Amphitheater. They include:

  • Friday, August 17 – White Wave Young Soon Dance Company, Double Take Dance
  • Saturday, August 18 – The Eleone Dance Theatre, Niles Ford Dance Collective
  • Sunday, August 19 – The Upright Citizens Brigade Presents the All-Stars of Improv
  • Tuesday, August 21 – Jose Alberto with 8 Y Mas and DJ Polito Vega
  • Wednesday, August 22 – Lyracist Lounge 20th Anniversary featuring Pete Rock vs. DJ Premier
  • Thursday, August 23 – Two Boots 25th Anniversary Concert (artists tbd)
  • Saturday, August 25-Monday, August 27 – Jason & the Argonauts: Tales from the Argonautica

For more information on these shows, visit Summerstage’s web site.


East River Park Progress: June Reopening? We’ll See!

East River Park, late February 2012.

Last week – in our story about the new community visioning for a park at Pier 42 – we mentioned the troubled reconstruction of East River Park. More than a decade after it was declared unsafe and closed, a final stretch below the Williamsburg Bridge remains unfinished.

City officials have missed countless deadlines.  For months the Parks Department web site has proclaimed the project would be finished in the fall of 2011. In October of last year, a Parks Department spokesman told us all of the work would be done by the time 2011 drew to a close. One TLD reader promised he’d “swim to Williamsburg” if that happened.

At a Community Board 3 meeting, Parks Department officials predicated a new opening date: summer of 2012.  While no one on the Lower East Side should be holding their breath for the ribbon cutting ceremony, it does look like significant progress has been made. Most of the paving appears to be complete. There still is a lot of planting to be done, though. Click through for more photos.

First Meeting to Plan for Pier 42 Park Marked by Both Optimism and Skepticism

Pier 42, at the end of Montgomery Street, is ready for its makeover.

Members of the community who turned out last night to hear about the future of Pier 42, on the East River Waterfront, seemed generally hopeful but more than a little wary.  It was the first meeting with Parks Department officials, who will be overseeing the refurbishment of the long neglected public space.  While there was genuine excitement that years of vigorous advocacy had finally paid off, longtime residents made it clear they have doubts about the city’s ability to get the job done.

At the urging of U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and State Senator Daniel Squadron, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. recently awarded nearly $16 million to demolish a large abandoned shed on Pier 42 and to complete a planning and design process for a new park.  The project was first envisioned many years ago, but was unfunded. The pier has been used for parking and storage during the last couple of years.

Good Morning!

Mostly sunny this morning, with a few clouds rolling in the afternoon, and a high of 47.


Youth Groups Fight For Access to Playing Fields

East River Park playing fields. Photo credit: Bryond My Ken.

Who has access to the Lower East Side’s public playing fields and under what circumstances?  These are questions that have come up time and again over the years. But as both youth and adult leagues steadily expand and demand for playing time grows, the issue has come to the forefront once again.

Last month, Parks Department officials appeared before a Community Board 3 committee to explain how they go about scheduling the playing fields in East River Park, Sara D. Roosevelt Park and other locations.  They were specifically asked to address concerns that too many organizations from outside the neighborhood have too much access to public facilities on the Lower East Side.

Latest E. River Park Completion Date: “End of the Year”

Last week, we noted that the East River Park rehabilitation project appears certain to miss another deadline.  On the Parks Department web site, an advisory still points towards a “fall 2011″ reopening of the promenade, which has now been closed for a decade.  We also noticed a barge owned by the city’s beleaguered contractor, Pile Foundation Construction Company, had disappeared.

A reader left a comment saying the company had “gone into receivership” and that the new company “has to go through 10 city agencies when they need supplies.”  We contacted  the Parks Department press office for an update. According to a spokesman, Pile Foundation, which has been fined by state regulators on numerous occasions, has finished its part of the East River project.

Weekend Kids’ Pick

Plant daffodil bulbs in the East River Park this Saturday.

This weekend get the kids thinking ahead to spring. Help the Lower East Side Ecology Center plant daffodil bulbs to get East River Park ready for next spring. Tools and gloves will be provided, but bring a snack and water. You can register for this event here. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., in East River Park, north gate of the track (just above the 6th Street & FDR Drive entrance to the Park).

For more family friendly events, please visit our Kids Page.


Still Little Progress to Report From East River Park

October 2011.

From time to time, we like to check in on the terminally stalled East River Park reconstruction project. Recently, the Pile Foundation barge that had been anchored in the river, just south of the Williamsburg Bridge, disappeared. 

Irene-Interrupted Summerstage Continues in East River Park Tonight

Faux-Real Theater Comapny's "Oedipus Rex."

Irene forced Summerstage to cancel a few performances at East River park. But tonight the free series in the amphitheater gets back on track.  The Faux-Real Theater Company presents “Oedipus Rex.” Here’s the description:

The Greeks, like us, knew that Oedipus was going to gouge his eyes out, even before the play began. And yet they still came out in droves. Come see what all the fuss was about as The Faux-Real Theatre Company brings their Dionysian depiction of Oedipus, featuring an all-male cast of twelve utilizing the performance techniques of the ancient Greeks including: brightly colored wigs, fantastical costumes, and masks that act as megaphones. By incorporating the colorful aesthetic of these ancient performances and utilizing a broad physical style of acting powered by live music, songs and dancing, this work looks beyond the “fate versus free will” interpretations of this classic, to explore the alluring underbelly of this primal text. Their heightened approach reveals what is terrifying and vital in this most tragic of tragedies, enhancing the story’s power to roil our subconscious and to awaken the heroes within.

Tonight’s performance begins at 8 p.m. Tomorrow night (and Friday) the Faux-Real Theater presents another production, “Seven Against Thebes.” They’re also on stage Thursday with a second night of “Oedipus Rex.”

More details on Summerstage’s web site.

Summerstage Hits East River Park’s Amphitheater

Step Afrika leads a "master class."

If you haven’t gotten the chance to catch Summerstage in East River Park, there are plenty of upcoming shows under the stars in the historic amphitheater.  We stopped by Saturday night, where Step Afrika and Border Crossing Collective put on  great performances. Step Afrika also conducted a “master class,” in which dance company members taught aspiring performers of all ages the basics of “stepping.”   It was a good time, even if you weren’t brave enough to climb up on stage!

Tonight at 7 p.m., salsa singer Tito Rojas will be on stage. Tomorrow night it’s the Cold Crush Brothers, the pioneering hip hop group. And indie rocker Nathan Williams of the Wavves is coming up on Wednesday.

The schedule turns theatrical next week. The Classical Theater of Harlem brings its production of “Henry V,” Saturday, August 27-Monday, August 29.  “Oedipus Rex,” from the Feaux-Real Theater Company takes its turn August 30-September 1. And the season wraps up with another Faux Real production, “Seven Against Thebes,” August 31 and September 2.

For more information on any of these productions, head over to Summerstage’s web site. Summerstage is produced by the non-profit, City Parks Foundation. All of the shows are free.

The Morning After – in East River Park

Morning runners and bicyclists had a few large puddles to navigate in East River Park, after the weekend’s big soaking.


Weekend Kids’ Pick

On Friday, August 12, The Ohmies and The Bed Stuy Veterans perform a free interactive concert at the East River Park. Beginning at 11am, children participate in musical adventures focusing on movement and physical activity.  The Ohmies stress emotional and social development, helping children learn to identify their feelings, make friends, resolve conflicts, get along with their siblings, and deal with anxiety. The Bed Stuy Veterans are a dance group that performs an Afro-Caribbean freestyle dance called brukup, which utilizes a series of pantomime-like moves that evokes break dancing, raving and butoh in equal parts. For more information on this and other kids events, visit our kids page.

Latest E. River Park Completion Date: Fall 2011

Sometimes a walk down memory lane is enjoyable. In this case, not so much:

-Oct. 19, 2010, WNYC’s Matthew Schuerman reported that the terminally stalled East River reconstruction project would be finished by July 2011.

-Jan. 13, 2011, The Villager added new details: “Structural renovations to the park, which began in mid-2005, are slated for completion by early spring, according to John Natoli, chief engineer of the city’s Parks Department. Workers are now finishing the final 600 feet of the new, 6,600-foot riverfront walkway, the key component of the construction project. Joggers, walkers and skateboarders will soon have use of the esplanade’s full length. The project’s landscaping will be completed by early summer, in time for the park’s peak-usage summer months.”

Get Outside for This Weekend’s “It’s My Park Day”

This weekend marks the citywide celebration of public parks, with It’s My Park Day events throughout the five boroughs. Some events are on Saturday and some on Sunday, and you can participate in activities ranging from litter pickup and planting flowers to dog training and karaoke.

We have a roundup of activities happening in our neighborhood.

Annual Kids’ Art Bike Parade This Weekend

Kurt Cavanaugh of the East Village Community Coalition sent along a reminder about this weekend’s 4th annual Kids’ Art Bike Parade. The popular event celebrates “spring, the arts, and of course, bicycling! There will be a free learn-to-ride class, helmet fittings and giveaways, bike tune-ups, and free bike decorations to transform your bike into a rolling work of art!” It all happens from 10-2pm on Saturday in East River Park (at 10th Street). Click here for more info.  There are additional details on Bike NYC’s web site.