By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project has found that construction on the flood protection project will likely create disruptive noise for some residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.
The document, released by the Department of Design and Construction on Friday, April 5, predicts that construction on the flood protection system will result in “significant adverse noise effects” for 315-321 Avenue C and 620 East 20th Street in Stuy Town and 601 East 20th Street, 8 Peter Cooper Road, 7 Peter Cooper Road, 530 East 23rd Street and 520 East 23rd Street in Peter Cooper.
Despite the increase in outside noise, the DEIS predicts that the decibel levels will actually be considered acceptable inside when the windows are closed because the buildings in ST/PCV have insulated glass. Other buildings within the project area farther downtown, as well as the Asser Levy recreation center, appear to have non- insulating glass windows and are expected to experience noise levels higher than the threshold recommended for residential use, according to City Environmental Quality Review noise exposure guidelines, due to pile driving and other construction work west of the FDR immediately adjacent to the rec center building.
The 961-page document examined overall potential impacts of the plan that the city has chosen to provide continuous flood protection for the East Side, in addition to considering the impact of not building any flood protection and four other alternative plans that the city considered.
The plan that the city has chosen to implement, known in the DEIS as the “preferred alternative,” is a flood protection system that integrates a combination of floodwalls, floodgates and supporting infrastructure improvements that would reduce damage from coastal storms. A key element to the plan is elevating and reconstructing East River Park, a proposal that was met with controversy because the city spent more than $2 million on new amenities for the park in the last year that will now be bulldozed.
The chosen proposal also includes flood protection with open space improvements at Murphy Brothers Playground, Stuyvesant Cove Park and Asser Levy Playground, an improved shared-use path for pedestrians and cyclists and a shared-use flyover bridge to address the narrow waterfront public access near the Con Edison facility between East 13th and 15th Streets.
The plan includes two swing floodgates across the FDR near East 13th Street that would provide flood protection across the highway when deployed but in non-storm conditions would be recessed to the sides of the highway. The floodwall then continues north and connects with the existing flood protection at the Con Edison East River Generating Station between East 14th and 15th Streets.
The wall would continue to Murphy Brothers along the east side of the park, which would be reconstructed with new ballfields and recreational spaces. At the northeast corner of the playground, the wall would turn east along Avenue C towards the East River, with two swing gates crossing the FDR Drive ramps and under the elevated FDR into Stuyvesant Cove. The flood protection would go north in Stuy Cove, where the system would be comprised of floodwalls and roller gates at Avenue C and the East 20th Street entrance to allow access to the park during non-storm conditions.
Similar to the plan for Murphy’s Brothers, the Asser Levy Playground would be redesigned and reconstructed, and a roller floodgate has been proposed to connect with the VA Medical Center floodwall. Construction is expected to begin on the project next year and be completed by 2023.
Other possible adverse effects of the preferred alternative, as well as the other proposed alternatives, would be the blocking of views to the waterfront and the East River from multiple locations within the project area. The DEIS said that lowering the floodwalls would allow continued views of the waterfront but would prevent the project from providing adequate flood protection.
The alternative plans proposed have similar components to the project that has been chosen but have longer expected construction times at five years, compared to 3.5 years for the preferred alternative.
The entire document is available to view on the city’s ESCR website at www1.nyc.gov/site/escr/index.page and print copies will also be available at the board offices for Community Boards 3 and 6. The DEIS is available for public comment through August 15 and comments can be submitted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or CDBGDR-Enviro@omb.nyc.gov and by mail at New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, c/o Colleen Alderson, Chief of Parklands and Real Estate, The Arsenal, Central Park, 830 Fifth Avenue, Room 401, New York, New York 10065 or New York City Office of Management and Budget, c/o Calvin Johnson, Assistant Director CDBG-DR, 255 Greenwich Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10007.
There will also be a public hearing for the relevant agencies to receive comments on the DEIS at 10 a.m. on July 31 at 120 Broadway on the concourse level.