By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Residents got another chance last week to provide feedback on the proposed East Side Coastal Resiliency project on Wednesday and Thursday during open houses in Peter Cooper Village.
Jeff Margolies, executive director for the office of intergovernmental and community relations at the Department of Design and Construction, said that the goal of the open houses was to present the overall project goals to residents and give residents the opportunity to ask questions.
“People can talk with talk with a lot of the city agencies involved in the project,” he said. “We have people here from the Parks Department, Department of Transportation, the Department of Buildings and a few others.”
A main concern for residents in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village is still regarding the structure that will be built on East 20th Street as part of the project, an interceptor gate building to help with drainage that would be constructed on the island near Avenue C on the southern side of the street.
The building itself is necessary for the project so Margolies said that DDC is working with the community to make the structure as unobtrusive as possible.
“We’ve tried to make it nicer-looking with different looks and feels so it blends in with the surrounding community,” he said, noting that the agency brought a new rendering to the recent open house with adjustments to the building’s color based on previous feedback.
City agencies are also working to improve pedestrian and bike access along the waterfront so that when the project is finished, the pathways will ideally connect with the existing greenways along the East River and allow both pedestrians and cyclists uninterrupted travel along the waterfront. The Department of Transportation is also working on a flyover bridge to address the pinch point along the river near the Con Edison facility and DOT representative Nega Lakew said that while the agency doesn’t know the exact width the bridge will be yet, the goal is for it to be wide enough for cyclists to remain on their bikes.
“It will definitely be wider than four feet, which is what it is now,” he said.
Claire Fontaine, a resident of East 10th Street who cycles regularly, said that she had concerns about the surfacing that looked like it was going to be used when the parks along the river would be reconstructed.
“In the videos, it seems like they’re increasing the ratio of concrete to grass significantly,” she said. “I live in a building that has a rooftop with grass and concrete and it gets incredibly hot in the summer. It seems like they’re taking that mentality and applying it to the park.”
Fontaine also voiced similar concerns about the city’s plan to completely demolish and rebuild East River Park as part of the project.
“Nobody is happy about this,” she said. “They’re putting this big platform in but they’re going to destroy everything that’s there now.”
The Land Use & Waterfront Committee for Community Board 6 held a recent public hearing on the ESCR’s application for the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) on May 28. There will also be a public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on July 31, although a time and location for the hearing have not yet been announced.