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De Blasio Administration Announces Advisory Group for East Side Coastal Resiliency Project

November 4, 2019

NEW YORK–-The de Blasio Administration announced today the City’s commitment to funding the creation and facilitation of a Community Advisory Group for the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project, which will protect vulnerable communities on the East Side of Manhattan from large coastal storms and the chronic impacts of sea-level rise. This body will be composed of local stakeholders who will provide community input on the project before the spring 2020 groundbreaking and throughout the construction process.

The creation of this community-led advisory group builds on extensive engagement efforts – including nearly 85 community meetings – and commits the City to a continued partnership with local leaders and community members.

“The East Side Coastal Resiliency Project will protect New Yorkers for years to come, and at every step of the way, we will continue to ensure the community is kept informed of progress and that their voice is heard,” said Mayor de Blasio.

Formation of the group will be coordinated with the Council and other local officials. It will be convened in advance of the groundbreaking and will serve as a forum for continual community engagement. The City will report to this body on design and construction progress both before and after the start of construction, through the completion of the project at the end of 2025.

The ESCR project will provide urgently needed flood protection for 110,000 New Yorkers along the East Side of Manhattan, including thousands of low-income residents living in 11 NYCHA developments. It will increase the resiliency of coastal communities while also improving access to and resiliency of East River Park and creating new open space and recreational amenities for area residents and all New Yorkers to enjoy.

“ESCR is a critical project to protect lower East Side neighborhoods from the effects of climate change and future storms,” said Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Lorraine Grillo. “We take feedback very seriously, and working with local officials and residents have configured the construction schedule to keep large parts of East River Park open throughout the project without delaying the crucial flood protection the project will provide.”

“We have been working hard to ensure that the 110,000 Lower East Siders who would be directly impacted by another super storm will have world class protections in place, and to provide supplemental open spaces for their use during phased reconstruction of East River Park,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “The creation of the advisory group further demonstrates our commitment to working with the community collaboratively in order to deliver this project.”

“The ESCR project will protect generations of New Yorkers from the devastating impacts of climate change,” said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency. “This advisory board creates a valuable new forum for the community to provide feedback on the project’s design and implementation.”

The project will offer long-term protection from the impacts of climate change and is being designed for a 100-year useful life. Its design is based on scientific projections produced by the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), an independent body composed of some of the world s most highly credentialed climate scientists.

In October 2019, Mayor de Blasio announced a phasing plan in response to community concerns about access to recreational space during the construction period. Under this plan, nearly half of East River Park will remain open at all times throughout construction, and continuous flood protection will still be delivered by the start of the 2023 hurricane season. The full project will reach completion in 2025.

A subsequent independent analysis of the project recommended additional stakeholder engagement. Participation in the Community Advisory Group is one part of the City s strategy to redouble its efforts to that end. The other recommendations of the analysis are still under review. The City has made the hydraulics studies supporting the project’s design available to the public through the ESCR website. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is also available on the website.

In addition, the New York City Department of Department of Design and Construction (DDC) will deploy a continual, in-person presence for the entirety of construction with dedicated, on-the-ground liaisons that will provide information about the planned activity and respond to concerns about specific construction impacts.

Based on engagement to date, the City will also be making additional efforts to address community concerns. New York City Emergency Management, in coordination with the Mayor s Office of Resiliency and DDC, will conduct further feasibility evaluation to understand whether there is a potential for Interim Flood Protection Measures along the project area. The results of this analysis will be shared with the community.

The City will also ensure that ESCR will be constructed in the most sustainable manner possible. DDC will seek to obtain Envision Platinum Certification for the project, a leading measure of sustainable infrastructure administered by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure. This goal complements other commitments on sustainability announced earlier this year, including a decreased reliance on trucking during ESCR’s construction, as well as a campaign to plant 1000 street trees in Community Boards 3 and 6 – this is in addition to over 1800 trees planned for the new East River Park itself.

And based on community feedback, the City is committing to additional resiliency and sustainability measures outside of the current ESCR project scope. One such effort is a study to investigate options for greening the areas along the at-grade portion of the FDR Drive in the Lower East Side from approximately Montgomery Street to East 14th Street. The study will analyze existing conditions to inform recommendations for increasing sustainability and resiliency features in the area and of the FDR Drive itself, including further enhancement of open space and waterfront connectivity delivered by ESCR.

The City is also committed to begin design in 2020 of flood protections for East 25th to East 30th Streets, encompassing critical infrastructure such as Bellevue Hospital. This project will be managed with Health+Hospitals and coordinate with ESCR infrastructure.

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