LES Ecology Center Compost Program in Danger of Being Bulldozed Due to Resiliency Project

Posted on: January 9th, 2020 at 5:00 am by

Photo: Harriet Hirshorn

The Lower East Side Ecology Center is fighting to save its compost program in the face of the revised $1.45 billion coastal resiliency project.

As previously noted, the city changed the overall timetable to a tiered structure. So, rather than closing the entire park, the project will happen in phases starting next fall with a 2025 completion date. The nonprofit will see the loss of its compost yard in favor of a temporary playing field come springtime, which it argues as unfair. In a petition circulating this week, the nonprofit demands that said yard “stay operational until the 2023 reconstruction for this part of the Park actually starts.”

Photo: DDC

The petition has already garnered more than one thousand signatures in the last couple days.

Each week, more than 3,500 households depend on LES Ecology Center’s compost program, which began on the Lower East Side in 1990. We offer ten drop-off sites for food scraps, prevent hundreds of tons of organic material from entering landfill, and introduce countless New Yorkers to the benefits of composting. LES Ecology Center collects and composts these scraps at East River Park, reducing truck trips to take the scraps farther away and providing additional opportunities for New Yorkers to learn about the full lifecycle of composting. Local community gardens, schools, and block associations caring for street trees use our finished compost to help their plants thrive.

Now, the City is seeking a construction contract to destroy the East River Compost Yard and create a temporary lawn. Not only will this cut off New Yorkers from composting and effectively kill our community compost program, but it is also a tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars. This part of the park is scheduled to be reconstructed as part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project in 2023, with the destruction likely taking place within the next three years. The plan is moving ahead without community input and was not even announced in recent community board meetings.

Community composting began in New York City on the Lower East Side in 1990, if you support composting, please let the City know how you feel. We demand that the compost yard stay operational until the 2023 reconstruction for this part of the Park actually starts. We also demand that the City engage with the LES Ecology Center to finish the design for the renovated compost yard as part of the ESCR reconstruction.

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