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Community board considers flood barrier park for Manhattan’s east side

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The initiative is meant to prevent flooding while improving the quality of the park

Rendering of the proposed Delancey Street Bridge.
Courtesy of The Mayor’s Office of Recovery & Resiliency

This week, Manhattan Community Board Three heard testimony regarding the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR), a proposal to prevent catastrophic flooding while improving East River parkland spanning from Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side up to East 25th Street.

The design is a collaboration between the city, AKRF, One Architecture, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, and Bjarke Ingels Group. The team has worked on updating plans for the so-called ‘resilient park,’ which includes fortifying the existing East River Park and building out 11 linear blocks of new parkland, lawns and nature walks.

According to Architect’s Newspaper, there will be flood walls, traditional levees and earthen levees to minimize the use of gates—deemed less aesthetically pleasing—that close to protect inland areas from rising waters.

Access into the park was altered after community input. A pedestrian bridge across Delancey Street now boasts a widened path, ramps and stairs. On East 10th Street, the team designed another bridge with ramps and stairs. The adjacent playground on East 10th is getting a grade change and new plantings for extra flood control.

The project’s timeline lasts until 2024, but $335 million in federal money is only available until 2022. (The project is also supported by an extra $400 million from the city.) Though the design process is making progress, construction won’t kick off right away.

That’s because the park plan requires approval from the city’s lengthy ULURP process. That process is expected to kick off this July, when a draft of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement is due. The final design proposals should be ready by winter, say Architect’s Newspaper, and if all goes well with ULURP, construction should start next spring.

Correction: Despite an earlier report by Architect’s Newspaper that Community Board Three backed this proposal, the director of Rebuild by Design has informed Curbed that the community board instead expressed critical feedback and did not vote in support. Curbed regrets the error.