On Monday, December 10, a man was found dead at the shoreline of the East River and 20th Street.
Police found the man, who hasn’t been identified and was in his 40s, at around 7 a.m. after responding to a call about an unconscious person. He’d appeared to have been in the water and was taken to Bellevue Hospital, but he couldn’t be saved.
The medical examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation is ongoing. A spokesperson for the medical examiner didn’t have further information about the individual.
Police are asking that anyone who might have information about the man or the circumstances surrounding his death to call 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).
The Ocean Queen Rock Star, part of the fleet of NYC Ferry’s Lower East Side route, arrives at Stuyvesant Cove at 6:45 a.m. on Wednesday. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Despite temperatures climbing high enough to warrant an official heat advisory from the city, cool winds prevailed along the East River on Wednesday for those aboard the new ferries along the Lower East Side route that launched that morning. The ferry that made the maiden voyage took off from Long Island City at around 6:30, arriving at Stuyvesant Cove at exactly 6:45 a.m. as the sun rose, carrying a mix of Stuyvesant Town residents and reporters.
The ferry, named the Ocean Queen Rock Star, then proceeded — at around 26 miles per hour — to downtown landing Corlears Hook, named, like Stuyvesant Cove, after a park on the waterfront. There, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Member Keith Powers cheered the new route, which made its debut months ahead of the dreaded L train shutdown.
De Blasio mentioned that the city has been getting many requests from New Yorkers who want a ferry stop in their neighborhoods and said that by the end of the year, decisions will be made on where else they would go. As of Wednesday, there were already six active ferry routes in the city, all operated by Hornblower. According to the mayor, there have also already been six million riders so far on NYC Ferry.
“We know how crowded the subways are. We know the streets are congested,” he said. “We know we need new ways to get around the city. We will not be the city we were meant to be if we don’t have better options.”
The Lower East Side ferry route will launch on August 29. (Photo by Thomas Rochford)
The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and NYC Ferry operated by Hornblower have announced details regarding the launch of the Lower East Side ferry route on August 29 as well as the Soundview ferry route on August 15.
The Lower East Side route, which will run from Wall Street/Pier 11, to Corlears Hook, to Stuyvesant Cove, East 34th Street, and end at Long Island City, Queens, will be a 32-minute trip from start to finish.
The Soundview route will run from the Soundview section of the Bronx (Clason Point Park), to East 90th Street in Manhattan, to East 34th Street, ending its run at Wall Street/Pier 11, and will take about 54 minutes from start to finish.
Schedules for the new routes are available on the NYC Ferry website, ferry.nyc and will also be accessible on the NYC Ferry app prior to the launch.
“We’re excited to launch NYC Ferry service in the Bronx, the Upper East Side and the Lower East Side, which have historically been transit deserts,” said NYCEDC President James Patchett. “For the same cost of a subway ride, New Yorkers that live and work in these communities will now have a fast, affordable and convenient way to get around the city.”
“With the launch of the 2018 routes, NYC Ferry is excited to expand across New York Harbor and continue to build neighborhood connections to the Bronx, Upper East Side and the Lower East Side,” said Cameron Clark, SVP of NYC Ferry operated by Hornblower. “We encourage everyone to hop on board and explore these new, affordable routes that will enhance commutes and shorten travel times for thousands of New Yorkers.”
NYC Ferry has already employed over 325 people as captains, deckhands, customer service agents, operations and more. New Yorkers can still apply at ferry.nyc.
Sea plane passenger rescue in action (Photo courtesy of NYC’s official website)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The NYPD rescued 10 people on the East River last Friday afternoon when a sea plane took a hard landing near East 23rd Street around 5:30 p.m. Police told CBS New York that the East Hampton-bound plane tried to take off three times but failed, and the nine passengers and the plane’s pilot were evacuated by the NYPD Harbor Unit.
FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Michael Gala said at a press conference following the incident that struts supporting the left wing broke, which caused the aircraft to slant when it landed in the river.
Officials did not have further information on what caused the initial problems when the plane was attempting to take off, but Gala said that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are investigating the incident.
TV producer Bill Lawrence, creator of “Scrubs” and “Spin City,” was one of the nine passengers rescued, along with his daughter. He told the news outlets at the scene that the plane seemed to reach an altitude of about 20 feet after trying to take off twice before it came down hard onto the river following the third attempt. Lawrence didn’t film the crash itself but posted photos on Instagram and Twitter showing the cockeyed plane with a wing partially submerged in the water.
Fly Tailwind, the plane’s operator, did not respond to a request for comment.
Con Ed substation in Manhattan (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
A failure of equipment at a Con Ed substation in Brooklyn has led to a so far unknown amount of oil to leak into the East River.
The U.S. Coast Guard has been responding to the problem since it was reported on Sunday afternoon, though as of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear if the substance, dielectric fluid, was still leaking into the river in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
The fluid, which is used to insulate transformer cables, is a kind of mineral oil, so “It’s not like sludge or petroleum,” said Coast Guard Public Affairs Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy. However, she added, “It’s still not native to the environment it’s leeching into.”
Additionally, while the Coast Guard is not aware of just how much of the oil has been spilled so far, she referred to the failure of a Con Ed transformer that led to the incident as “catastrophic.
The East River (pictured in 2012). (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel.)
By Sabina Mollot
A man was found floating in the East River at around East 14th Street on Sunday afternoon, and as of Monday morning, police said they believe they know who it is.
While they wouldn’t release the name of the individual prior to his being officially identified by a family member, police said they are pretty certain it’s a 24-year-old homeless man with a history of depression.
A police source added that no criminality is suspected at this time. However, the investigation is ongoing and the NYC Medical Examiner is looking into the cause of death.
The man, after being pulled out of the water by the NYPD’s Marine and SCUBA Units at around 2:30 p.m., was taken to the Skyport Marina on East 23rd Street, where he was pronounced dead.
UPDATE on Tuesday: A woman who said she was the man’s mother told Town & Village her son “was a good person.”
The woman, who didn’t want to give her name, added that she last saw her son a month ago. “He was always helping everyone. I raised him to be a gentleman and he was a goodhearted person. We will all miss him.”
Asser Levy Playground (pictured) and Murphy’s Brother’s Playground will be impacted by the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. (Photo courtesy of Parks Department)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The city has been exploring options to redesign Asser Levy Playground and Murphy’s Brother’s Playground, since both will be affected by the construction of flood protection along the East Side of Manhattan from East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street.
Earlier in the month, representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency discussed the proposals at a community meeting held at Washington Irving High School.
Carrie Grassi, the deputy director of planning for the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, mentioned how the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project will run adjacent to both parks and construction will disturb activities there.
However, since the city is only in the concept design stage with the project, Grassi said that decisions for all aspects aren’t necessarily final yet. One such instance is the placement of the floodwall as it approaches the Asser Levy Playground. One configuration has the wall bordering the park along the FDR Drive, turning along East 25th Street and connecting with the floodwall that the VA Hospital is working on.
“But some feel that would be too imposing,” Grassi said.
Fireworks as seen at Waterside Plaza (Photo by Edward O’Rourke)
By Sabina Mollot
On Monday, July 4th, New York City’s annual fireworks show dazzled viewers along The East River as Macy’s also celebrated its 40th anniversary of putting on the skyward display. This year, four fireworks barges were positioned between 23rd and 37th Streets with another double barge downtown. Despite on and off rain which turned into a downpour not long before the show began at around 9:30 p.m. the crowds came out, though their numbers were rivaled by all the police officers patrolling along the East Side. At Waterside Plaza, where residents get a front row seat to the spectacle, over a thousand people lined up outside to watch. The property, where holiday festivities also took place outdoors on the plaza, was sealed on Monday other than to residents and their guests. Many more spectators, despite the weather, gathered alongside the car-free FDR Drive for a still closeup view.
The city is planning to expand existing ferry service on the East River and citywide, and a new ferry landing is to be built at East 20th Street. The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association has invited officials from the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to fill residents in on the project. The new landing would be part of the Lower East Side route, a stop between an existing stop at East 34th Street and another at Wall Street/Pier 11.
The Tenants Association is holding an open meeting on Thursday, January 14 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the VA Medical Center atrium conference room, 423 East 23rd Street east of First Avenue.
Questions are encouraged, such as:
What impacts will the new facility have on noise and pollution? Will ferry passengers crowd local buses? What effect will the ferry landing have on the new storm barrier design? What impact will the landing have on pedestrians and bicyclists in Stuyvesant Cove Park? What new commuting options will be available to Stuy Town and Peter Cooper residents?
Those in attendance at the meeting last Tuesday sat at tables while the pros and cons of each option for the project were discussed. (Pictured) Guests seated before the presentation began (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Neighborhood residents recently learned that the East River may be getting a new elevated park along with flood protection. The discussion about the park took place at the most recent workshop for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, held at the Stein Senior Center last Tuesday. Representatives from the mayor’s office and BIG U, the winning design firm in the Rebuild by Design competition in 2013, said that this type of flood protection was one of the most popular with residents, according to feedback from the community at the previous workshop in May.
Carrie Grassi, senior policy adviser at the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, also discussed the three options for flood protection in the area along the East River between 14th and 23rd Streets, which includes a berm, which would have a park on top, a flood wall or a deployable, and noted that community members saw the advantages of all three depending on the area.
The area along the river from 14th to 23rd is known as Project Area 2 and Project Area 1 extends south from 14th Street to Montgomery Street. The workshops have been split along these boundaries to focus more on the specific needs of each area.
Grassi noted that there is a need for compromise when considering different characteristics even within each designated project area and the specifics of each kind of flood protection, and they’re hoping the workshops will help find the right balance for Project Area 2.
Area residents listen to a discussion about potential use of the waterfront at a meeting at Washington Irving High School. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The coastal resiliency project backed by the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency has announced new possible plans for the waterfront by Stuyvesant Cove Park, with ideas including cafes or an elevated park.
The Tuesday evening workshop held at Washington Irving High School was more interactive than the previous gathering, which was mainly a presentation from ORR director Dan Zarilli and Jeremy Siegel, a project designer with the consultant team of Big U and director of Rebuild by Design.
Rebuild by Design was launched by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and held a competition for resiliency ideas, which resulted in the Big U project to protect the coastline known as the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project.
ORR senior policy advisor Carrie Grassi said this week that there was a short gap between the end of the contest and the beginning of the design process, but the project is now gaining more momentum.
Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez; Chris Collins, executive director of Solar One; Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Council Member Dan Garodnick at Solar One (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney gathered with local politicians and community residents at Solar One last Friday to encourage participation at upcoming workshops that will help design the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, a plan that was designed in response to the damage wrought on Lower Manhattan as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
“Sandy demonstrated that the time for complacency is over,” Maloney said on Friday. “Sea levels are rising. That suggests that we’re going to be seeing a lot more flooding, but now we have an opportunity to seize the moment and remake Manhattan’s East River coastline from Montgomery to 23rd Street into something that protects us from future storm surges.”
President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy rebuilding task force created the Rebuild by Design initiative in August 2013 and held a design competition for coastal resiliency projects. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development selected the BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) Team and their project that will protect the Manhattan waterfront from West 57th Street, around the tip of Manhattan up to East 42nd Street. The first phase of the project will focus on the area in Manhattan from Montgomery Street to East 23rd Street.
HUD awarded $335 million in federal funds in June, 2014 for that specific phase of the project, to create a protective system for that area of Manhattan. The project is meant to shield the area from flooding as well as provide more access to the waterfront, more open space and other environmental benefits for the community.
The East River by Stuyvesant Cove Park, pictured on a frigid day in late February (Photo by Edmund Dunn)
The body of a woman was found in the East River on Sunday afternoon at 23rd Street.
The so-far unidentified woman was described as black and in her 40s to 50s. She was found floating face down after police got a call at 2:40 p.m. about a body in the water 15-20 feet from the shore line. At that point the water was about five feet deep. Emergency responders pronounced her dead at the scene. There were no signs of trauma to her body but as of Monday afternoon police did not have information as to how she died. An investigation is ongoing.
Workers in the repair and cleanup effort in Peter Cooper Village in November, 2012
By Sabina Mollot
It was 28 months ago when the wrath of Hurricane Sandy caused the East River to rise 14 feet and barrel its way into Manhattan’s East Side. In Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, the gushing water caused unprecedented damage, destroying the management office and flooding basements and garages. But according to CWCapital, its insurance company has still not paid over a third of what the owner believes is owed for the damage.
The suit, filed last Thursday, said Lexington Insurance Co. has only paid $60 million of the repair costs and estimated losses that the owner has claimed were actually over $95 million. Adding insult to injury, the insurance company is also trying to bring the entire amount, including what has already been paid, to appraisal.
In its complaint, which is over 100 pages long, CW said the insurer, despite having its agents examine the damage on site, has “capped what it was willing to pay, regardless of the costs of repair.” Additionally, “Lexington simply ignored PCV/ST’s pleas for payment while at the same time, acknowledging that they were covered.”
The suit, which was first reported by Law360, noted how employees on the property immediately started work on the repairs to minimize the inconvenience to residents, which CW said served to minimize business interruption losses.
CW had hoped to get the insurer to agree on a $100 million settlement but Lexington and agents for Lexington from an insurance industry adjuster called Vericlaim “rebuffed those efforts.”
East River water buried cars outside of Stuyvesant Town when Hurricane Sandy hit. (Photographer unknown)
CW said it has since refined its estimate to reflect newer information and now believes the actual costs from repairs and losses amount to $95,296,483. The owner said the insurer has been provided with access to the property’s employees as well as the related documentation. “PCV/ST has responded to reasonable, and many unreasonable requests for information by Lexington and Vericlaim,” CW wrote.
CW also wrote that the refusal to pay the full estimate is the result of an “incomplete” inspection that was conducted in 2013 by an insurance industry construction consultant called Wakelee Associates. “Based largely on Wakelee’s results,” Lexington informed CW that the loss and damage amounted to about $60 million. Close to $53 million of that has actually been paid out, which, with the $7,500,000 deductible, reflects Lexington’s $60 million estimate.
CW also said some of its costs have been challenged in cases where equipment had to be replaced rather than just repaired. CW defended its actions though, citing in one example the property’s heat controls. The system had controllers that were destroyed in many buildings when Sandy hit. A different type of system was then installed since the original one was no longer commercially available.
CW gave some other examples of not receiving all it believes the property was owed, including in work relating to replacement of all the buildings’ cast iron drain pipes, which had all gotten clogged with water and debris. When dozens of onsite plumbers couldn’t unclog them, contractors had to be hired to saw through concrete basement floors, which meant additional costs to replace floors, drywall, tile and other property. A year later, Wakelee “took the position they could have been unclogged,” said CW, adding that there were no objections when the work was being done. CW said Lexington also accused the owner of having a “premeditated plan” to replace them.
Workers clean out an Avenue C garage in November, 2012 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
The document went on to list other things CW was stuck footing all or some of the bill for such as replacement of steel window and door frames that had been exposed to river water and had corroded, work at the old management office, now converted into apartments (specifically installation of equipment and furniture), damaged fire mains, asbestos removal from buildings, reimbursement for employees’ cleanup/repair work (since they were diverted from their regular duties to do it) and income loss from laundry rooms, garages and the fitness center.
CW is also attempting to block Lexington from pursuing appraisal.
A spokesperson for CWCapital said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation, and a spokesperson for Lexington didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Kayakers fill the East River by Stuyvesant Cove Park during an event last June. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Community Board 6 and 3 recently formed a joint task force to offer guidance on how new features along the East Side waterfront can be incorporated into a recently-funded project focused on waterfront resiliency. The new task force met for the first time this past Monday to discuss preliminary ideas for the project and is composed of 11 representatives, including members of CB3, CB6 and various community stakeholders.
CB6 chair Sandro Sherrod, who is also chairing the task force, said that while construction isn’t expected to begin until at least 2017 and the project is currently in the conceptual design phase, the task force is planning to have additional meetings and invite the public to look at different options and various design elements.
The project, which is spearheaded by the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR), is known as the BIG U and is the result of a design competition that was held by Housing and Urban Development in which participants came up with ideas on how to fix areas that were heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. HUD approved $335 million in funding for the project last October.
The BIG U in the project refers to a ten-mile long protective barrier to be built along the east side of Manhattan from East 42nd Street down to the Battery, then looping in a U shape up to East 57th Street. Instead of typical flood barriers and walls, the project proposes to include seawalls, raised pathways, parks, locally appropriate berms and mechanized operable barriers. The plan splits the project into three distinct zones, one of which is the area between Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side and East 23rd Street.
The “zone” from Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side along the waterfront extends to East 23rd Street but this area is split into two different parts. The first project area includes the region below East 14th Street, which includes a number of NYCHA developments on the Lower East Side that were badly damaged by flooding, currently has more concrete design plans than the second project area but the task force will be working with the BIG U team to solidify ideas for the area north of East 14th Street.