Judge Tosses Lawsuit, Clearing Way for East River Park Resiliency Project

Posted on: August 24th, 2020 at 5:00 am by

Photo: Marcia Katz Berken

The destruction and redevelopment of East River Park will move forward, as one thorny legal hurdle was cleared last week.

New York Supreme Court Judge Melissa Crane on Thursday dismissed a grassroots lawsuit challenging the $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency project, which will overhaul a swath of Lower East Side coastline to protect the area from future flooding and storms.

The action, spearheaded by East River Park Action, argued that the project required an extra layer of environmental review known as “parkland alienation” — a state process triggered when city park land is discontinued.

The plan calls for East River Park to be buried and rebuilt eight feet higher. Thousands of trees will be uprooted and playing fields buried; two iconic structures – eligible as State and National Registers of Historic Places – are also on the endangered list; and the Lower East Side Ecology Center could lose its compost yard. Moreover, many community members remain salty about the eleventh-hour changeup from the long-in-the-works “Big U” program.

As previously reported, this project will take a minimum of five years to complete, and is intended to strengthen coastal resiliency between Montgomery and 25th Streets. It’ll be implemented on a two-phase schedule. So, rather than closing the entire park, area residents will have access to roughly half the park during each phase. Initial work commences sometime in September, and will remain ongoing through 2023. But swaths of space from Delancey to Houston Streets will remain open.

East River Park Action plans on appealing the judgement.

Photo: Susan Loeb

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