Friday, February 8, 2013

Scott Stringer Unveils East River Blueway Project Plan to Protect Manhattan's East River Waterfront From Next Storm - Wetlands Envisioned

In Final State of the Borough Address, BP Stringer Unveils New Plan to Revitalize and Protect Manhattan's East River Waterfront Against the Next Storm

Where there is now a thin concrete bulkhead beneath the FDR Drive from the Brooklyn Bridge to Rutgers Slip, the East River Blueway Project  plan would extend protective wetlands from the shore, and add drainage under the highway to absorb and re-direct the next great surge. Similar wetlands are proposed in Stuyvesant Cove, around East 14th Street. 

Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer unveiled his blueway project vision last night at his final State of the Borough Address. 


Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, in his final State of the Borough Address, unveiled a forthcoming plan Thursday promoting greater access to the East River from the Brooklyn Bridge to East 38th Street, while also creating new fortifications and infrastructure to protect the borough against the next big storm. The plan, developed in partnership with Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, was initiated in 2010, long before Sandy devastated New York City.

The Borough President said his office is allocating $3.5 million to help launch the East River Blueway Project, which he called a model of community engagement for rebuilding other storm-damaged areas. The plan was developed in partnership with Manhattan Community Boards 3 and 6, the Lower East Side Ecology Center, a design team at W X Y architecture + urban design, 40 community-based organizations and local elected officials. It is funded by a grant from the New York State Department of State and generated with extraordinary community input and numerous public meetings.

Where there is now a narrow, inaccessible beach below the Brooklyn Bridge, there would be an active waterfront destination that also fortifies the shoreline.

“What we have created here is a model that not only helps communities to re-imagine their waterfronts, but also helps to safeguard them at the same time,” Borough President Stringer said Thursday in a speech at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “In the end, this is a roadmap to recovery built by the community and for the community.” 

The Borough President recounted heavy storm damage to this area – including flooding of the FDR Drive and explosions that shut down the Con Ed plant at East 14th street, plunging Lower Manhattan into darkness – and outlined proposals to better protect the city from future storms. 

The plan’s formal release is set for later this month in conjunction with community partners, but the Borough President tonight released a series of renderings that outline key components of the plan, images of which can be found here.

“Of course, the Blueway must be part of a larger, regional solution to protect our city,” the Borough President said. “But as we now look to rebuild Red Hook and Coney Island in Brooklyn, Far Rockaway in Queens and the devastated shores of Staten Island, the Blueway offers a model of regional planning and engagement.”

Where the Con Ed plant now stands exposed at East 14th Street,  right at the water’s edge,  the plan would create a new,  green pedestrian bridge that could also serve as a sturdy flood wall.

“In the face of the ravages of Sandy that we experienced so recently and are still recovering from, the Blueway Plan that I join Borough President Stringer in announcing today presents an incredibly important vision of the East Side as a vibrant, sustainable riverfront community,” said Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh who commissioned the Plan with the Borough President and helped secure State funding for it. “We have engaged our community in a focused conversation to identify a comprehensive set of ecological improvements and infrastructure projects that recognize the river as a source of real risks to be managed but also as a great asset for recreation and open space.”

“This bold and transformative Blueway Plan will enhance access to a magnificent stretch of waterfront for both residents and tourists to enjoy, which will help boost the local economy,” said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. “The Department of State is committed to helping rebuild communities and making New York a more resilient State.”

In developing the Blueway report, the Borough President’s Office consulted government agencies including NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, NYC Department of Environmental Protection, NYC Department of Transportation, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, NYC Economic Development Corporation, NYC Department of City Planning and Con Edison. Over 40 stakeholder organizations participated in formulating the plan including settlement houses, tenant associations, environmental groups, waterfront advocates, neighborhood associations and local schools and hospitals.

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In Final State of the Borough Address, BP Stringer Unveils New Plan to Revitalize and Protect Manhattan's East River Waterfront Against the Next Storm

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