Repair of Stuyvesant Square Park’s historic fence to start soon, city says

Money was raised to fix the fence outside of Stuyvesant Square Park in 2012. (Photo by Michael Alcamo)

Money was raised to fix the fence outside of Stuyvesant Square Park in 2012. (Photo by Michael Alcamo)

By Sabina Mollot

It was almost two and half years ago, in June of 2012 when the last $600,000 needed for the restoration of Stuyvesant Square Park’s historic, cast iron fence and the surrounding sidewalk was finally allocated after years of fundraising. The project, which had been pushed by the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, eventually had a total price tag of $5.5 million, funded by local elected officials.

But today, work on the fence on the park’s east section, which needs some of its rotted pieces recreated, still hasn’t begun. A separate project to fix the park’s west section fence had been completed earlier. Work to accompany the fence project, such as fixing the damaged bluestone sidewalk, has also still not been done. Yet another long awaited and related project, to install a curb cut or ramp at the park’s eastern gate to allow access to wheelchair users, has also still not happened.

But fortunately for those whose who’ve been following the progress, or rather lack of it, change does finally appear to be on the horizon.

Community Board 6’s Parks Committee has been assured by the Parks Department that work will begin soon. Or rather, that it already has. Mark Thompson, who heads Community Board 6’s Parks Committee, said he’s been told the official start date of the project was October 20. However, he was also warned that this wouldn’t mean shovels would hit the ground on that date although work would begin internally on the project.

As for when the actual repairs will start, there still doesn’t seem to be a set date for that, and one local tree-planting and park activist, Michael Alcamo, has said he’ll believe it when he sees it.

Alcamo, a Stuyvesant Town resident, had spearheaded a letter writing campaign in 2012 that was instrumental in securing the last of the funds for the project from then-Borough President Scott Stringer. Though he conceded some of the blame for the delay on getting started was finding artisans capable of repairing the landmarked fence, which apparently there aren’t too many of, he said he is now concerned the project is no longer even considered a priority by the city. Alcamo referred to the mayor’s recently announced initiative to focus on the needs of parks in outer boroughs, particularly in poorer areas.

“Has the money been allocated to outer boroughs? That would be useful for the community to know,” said Alcamo.

He added that the fence isn’t even his main concern, but the cracked sidewalk is since that could pose a danger to pedestrians, as is the lack of of a wheelchair ramp.

Tree and park activist Michael Alcamo has been pushing the city to install a ramp for disabled park goers at the park’s entrance. (Photo by Michael Alcamo)

Tree and park activist Michael Alcamo has been pushing the city to install a ramp for disabled park goers at the park’s entrance. (Photo by Michael Alcamo)

“In 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act required that public facilities, including parks, must be accessible to persons with disabilities,” said Alcamo. “The eastern side of Stuyvesant Square Park, which faces Stuyvesant Town, has not been in compliance for 24 years. We have been asking for four years for a curb cut in order to make the park accessible to persons of limited mobility.”

Alcamo, who recently founded an organization called Friends of Stuyvesant Square Park, had hoped to speed up the curb cut installation by asking Community Board 6 to pass a resolution calling for the work to be done, but, he said, the board’s Parks Committee declined. As for why the committee didn’t want to take that step, Thompson told Town & Village he didn’t think a resolution would be necessary since the community board has already had assurances from the Parks Department that the project will begin soon, including the installation of a ramp.

Thompson added that he did understand Alcamo’s concerns since early on the fundraising process, $500,000 of the project’s funds were reallocated to another Parks Department need.

“It shouldn’t have happened, but it did,” said Thompson. Because of this, CB6 has been “politely” nudging the city about the park from time to time. “We’re all concerned,” he said. But he added, “the money is allocated. It is happening.”

A rep for Parks echoed Thompson in saying the city is not redirecting the project’s cash elsewhere.

“No funds have been reallocated from Manhattan to the other boroughs and all the funds allocated for this project are intact,” Philip Abramson, a Parks Department spokesperson told T&V.

The contractor on the project is UA Construction, who was selected after the initially chosen vendor (chosen for being the lowest bidder) ended up not working out. UA Construction was the second lowest bidder. The lowest bidder, Abramson said, “was not successful in going through the pre-qualification process.”

He didn’t respond to a question about why the first company didn’t qualify though he did say that at this time UA Construction is working with the Department of Transportation on getting a permit for a street closure so work can begin.

Rosalee Isaly, the president of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, said she’s had a recent discussion with Parks reps to make sure the dog walkers who come to use the park’s dog run will be able to access it while work is ongoing.

“They’ll be aware of them,” she said of the dog walkers. She added that come springtime, the park’s west side will also get some attention with the installation of an irrigation system. “All that planting that gets done needs water and the watering this past summer was torturous,” she said. “They had to drag in hoses.”

The labor-intensive act of planting should pay off in the spring though. Dozens of volunteers, mainly high school and college students, have been participating in monthly gardening days at the park to plant, paint benches and rake leaves. On a volunteer day in October, around 11,500 bulbs for tulips, daffodils and bluebells were planted.

“It’s really warming,” said Isaly. “I think it’s going to be spectacular spring in the park.”

A DOT spokesperson did not respond to a request from T&V asking about the status of the permit and where the street closures would be exactly.

ST resident voters wanted change from Bloomberg era

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, pictured in Stuyvesant Town in August, was elected mayor. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, pictured in Stuyvesant Town in August, was elected mayor. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

New Yorkers elected a new mayor for the first time in 12 years this past Tuesday and for the first time in over 20 years, made a Democrat the city’s leader. The New York Times called the election for Democrat Bill de Blasio based only on exit poll data because the margin was so wide. According to the unofficial results from the Board of Elections, the city’s current public advocate received 73.34 percent of the vote and Republican Joe Lhota received 24.27 percent.

Current Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer also enjoyed a landslide victory in the city comptroller race, getting about 80.53 percent of the vote. His Republican challenger, Wall Streeter John Burnett, got only 16.63 percent.

Locally, City Council Member Dan Garodnick was able to retain his seat with 70.25 percent of the vote over Republican newcomer Helene Jnane, who got 29.75 percent.

At the polls, some voters felt it was important to vote because of issues such as tenants’ rights.

“It’s always about that,” one Stuyvesant Town resident who didn’t want to be named said after voting at the community center. “Without tenants’ rights, we can’t live here. Your vote always comes down to where you live.”

A number of residents, however, were motivated to cast their ballots because of Bloomberg fatigue.

Council Member Dan Garodnick, shown with son Asher at his polling place in Peter Cooper, was reelected. (Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick)

Council Member Dan Garodnick, shown with son Asher at his polling place in Peter Cooper, was reelected. (Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick)

“I’m so done with 12 years of Bloomberg,” said Lisa Baum, a Stuyvesant Town resident. “He’s done a lot of damage to our city. This isn’t the city that we had before he came into office. I’m raising a child and there is more homelessness in the city now. She sees that, she sees the homelessness.”

Mary, a Peter Cooper Village resident who declined to give her last name, said she was hoping for a Democrat in the mayor’s office after more than a decade of Bloomberg. “He wants more tourists in the city,” she said. “He cares more about tourists than he does about citizens.”

Mary Garvey, a Stuyvesant Town resident and a teacher, said that she is hoping for changes in education as well as changes in general. “New York is a very wealthy city,” she said. “But we need to think about all the people, not just the wealthy.”

The Board of Elections approved a decision in mid-October to use six-point font on the ballots for this election and a number of elected officials have come out against this move because it makes the ballots more difficult for voters to read.

“Voters have a right to clear, readable ballots,” Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh said. “Shrinking the words to a minuscule six-point font is simply not acceptable. We have legislation that would make this impermissible — and would make it easier for boards of elections to design ballots that are clearer in a variety of ways — but it shouldn’t take an act of the legislature to make sure people with reasonably good eyesight can actually read the names of the people they’re voting for.”

One poll worker stationed in the site at 360 First Avenue said that voters were making complaints about how difficult the ballot was to read all morning. Garvey, who voted at the community center polling site, said that she didn’t have too much trouble reading the ballot, but she worried that seniors might. “The proposals are a very important part of voting and the font for those is so small,” she said.

As with elections in the past, redistricting in the neighborhood has shuffled polling sites around, sometimes leaving residents confused about where they were supposed to vote.

Madge Stager, a Stuyvesant Town resident who voted at the community center, said that it took her 20 minutes to figure out where she was supposed to go because she went to her regular polling place and only then discovered that the site had changed. She ultimately figured out that she was supposed to vote in the community center at 449 East 14th Street but said that she never received any notice about a change, and the site coordinator at the community center, Donna Canton, said that polling places have been changing frequently.

“They redistricted again after last year’s general election and they shouldn’t be doing that,” Canton said. “My polling site last year was 283 Avenue C and now it’s 10 Stuyvesant Oval, and even one of my neighbors in my building has a different poll site.”

Other than these few hiccups, poll workers said that everything was going relatively smoothly on Tuesday morning. They noted that voter turnout was heavy and the residents that came out were more than happy to do their civic duty.

“I’m glad to vote,” Garvey said. “It’s a moment of optimism. Voting always makes me very emotional.”

Tenants Association to challenge round of MCIs

TA tells tenants: Ignore CWCapital’s reduction offer, 

CW says: We’re trying to avoid conflict

Tenants pack a meeting on MCIs, held at the Simon Baruch Middle School auditorium. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Tenants pack a meeting on MCIs, held at the Simon Baruch Middle School auditorium.
(Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

After residents were hit with five MCIs (major capital increases) in October for upgrade projects in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, management firm CompassRock made an offer to try and reduce the retroactive portions of those increases  — an offer that the Tenants Association swiftly responded to, to suggest that neighbors ignore it.

The MCIs were discussed by the Tenants Association’s attorney Tim Collins at a meeting held on Saturday at the Simon Baruch Middle School auditorium.

This meeting, which was attended by around 500 people, took place a day after tenants received a letter from CompassRock, which mentioned that management hoped to work with tenants to lower the amount of retroactive charges in the MCIs “in order to mitigate the impact of this component for our longer term residents.” It also mentioned that some residents — those whose legal rent is higher than their preferential rent (what they actually pay) — shouldn’t see any increases at all.

However, the letter, which was unsigned, then went on to warn tenants that though they have a right to challenge the MCIs, if they did, they could forget management’s offer to try and reduce the retroactive portion, and that even if tenants did appeal, the MCIs would still likely be approved.

“It is our belief based upon legal advice received that at the end of any appeal process, we will obtain all or almost all of the amounts reflected in the orders,” the note read. CompassRock then went on to say management hoped to address the issue with tenants over the next few weeks so the proper amount of rent could be issued in the December bills.

“We hope that our residents take this letter as it was intended — not as a formal legal offer, but as a gesture of our good faith and a commitment from us to mitigate the effect of these orders,” said the note.

A few residents told Town & Village they thought the letter had a threatening tone, and later, Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for management and special servicer CWCapital issued a statement, explaining that the offer was made to avoid any conflict with the tenants.

“We intend to make public final settlement terms by the beginning of next week,” said Moriarty. “In doing so, we are seeking to mitigate the effect of the MCIs and provide residents with clarity regarding their ongoing rents. As we stated in the letter, we have received legal advice to the effect that all, or almost all, of the MCIs that have now been lawfully approved by DHCR will ultimately be granted, but perhaps after some lengthy and contentious delay.  This does not seem good for the community overall, or for individual residents, and therefore we will seek to waive a meaningful amount of the retroactive charges for residents. We are confident that this gesture of good faith will be positively received by our residents. Obviously, we respect that all residents will need to see the details in order to make their judgment. We assume that the vast majority of residents understand that it is not possible to compromise while simultaneously contesting the compromise. Unfortunately, the way the rent stabilization system works, it seems that appeals from a small minority of residents could disrupt a settlement of which a significant majority of the property is in favor. We feel that it is important people know and understand this.”

But at the meeting, Council Member Dan Garodnick commented on the letter to say that he thought the offer to reduce the retroactive amounts — but not the monthly increase that would be charged in perpetuity — was only made because the monthly increase is added to tenants’ base rents. This would bulk up the property’s rent roll, which would be attractive to a potential buyer, noted Garodnick, while the retroactive charges “do nothing for that.

“While we appreciate the gesture, we may have to challenge them in any event,” Garodnick added. “CW is well aware that we have the ability (through a challenge) to tie the system up for quite some time.”

Tenants Association attorney Tim Collins speaks to residents, while Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, State Senator Brad Hoylman and TA Chair Susan Steinberg listen. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Tenants Association attorney Tim Collins speaks to residents, while Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, State Senator Brad Hoylman and TA Chair Susan Steinberg listen. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Collins also spoke about the offer to say he was confident that the MCIs would be rescinded if appealed due to the fact that his arguments on behalf of the TA on why they shouldn’t be implemented, which were made last year, weren’t even acknowledged in the responses. Previously, he referred to this as a “reversible” error.

“You should ignore that letter,” he said at the meeting, then addressing any CW employees who might be in the audience to add, “That doesn’t mean we’re ignoring it.”

He added that complaints include the TA’s belief that since some of the work benefits ST/PCV’s commercial tenants, they too should share in the cost and that in some buildings, there were “class C” violations found, which would make the owner ineligible for an MCI. There was also the issue that some apartments were being used for student housing. Another argument, specifically against the resurfacing MCI was due to the quality of the work.

“We have 40 to 50 pictures showing what a mess it was,” Collins said. “The workmanship was horrendous. So we were really surprised when these things (MCI notices) started pouring out.”

Decisions on whether to grant MCIs are made by the state housing agency, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) of New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR). The applications for the MCIs were made in 2009 by then-owner Tishman Speyer for security upgrades, including a now destroyed command center and video intercoms in Stuyvesant Town as well as (for Peter Cooper residents) work on water valves and tanks and (for Stuyvesant Town residents) resurfacing work which was bundled with charges for doors and water tanks and valves. Costs of the different MCIs vary per tenant, but all include retroactive portions to account for the time from when the work was done to when the decision to authorize the MCI was granted.

Only half jokingly, when Collins took the podium, he slammed down a pile of paperwork that was about six inches thick. Collins then told the audience that if he wasn’t confident about getting results from the HCR, he wouldn’t have shown up at the meeting. “I would not have canceled my proctologist appointment,” he said.

The attorney also asked residents to sign a pledge, which would allow the TA to represent them in a joint petition for administrative review (PAR). Collins has asked that tenants not file their own PARs, unless they have “unique circumstances,” since the TA believes a joint argument will have more strength. The TA is also preparing another document called a request for reconsideration.

On CW’s current offer to tenants, Collins said it could later cause increases for tenants whose preferential rents are lower than the legal rents, which are the maximum amounts an owner can charge.

“You have to understand how preferential rents work,” he said. “Preferential rents can be changed upon a renewal. They might say, ‘Right now you see no change, but next time we’re going to raise it.’”

He added, “I think we’re prepared to ask for more. A lot of the work was shoddy. A lot of the work was redundant.”

SCRIE, DRIE and MCI legislation

Along with Collins, other speakers at the event, which was emceed by TA Chair Susan Steinberg, included local elected officials such as Garodnick, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Borough President Scott Stringer and State Senator Brad Hoylman.

While at the microphone, Hoylman mentioned that there is currently some relief from MCIs for tenants who are eligible for SCRIE (Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption) and DRIE (Disability Rent Increase Exemption). Through those programs, tenants would be locked into the rent they paid when they first signed their lease except under extreme circumstances. To make sure an MCI would be covered, tenants would have to apply to the program within 90 days of it being issued. “But,” noted Hoylman, “it must be completed for each MCI separately.”

Kavanagh, who then discussed the state of the housing law that determines MCI policy, got some chuckles out of the audience when he mentioned that, “The MCI system is part of a larger system that was intended to protect tenants.”

However, legislation authored by Kavanagh, which seeks to end MCI payments once the cost of the improvement would be recouped by owners, has been collecting dust in Albany. He noted that the housing laws are up for expiration again in 2015 and he hoped to get the bill passed then, which would also add more oversight to the application process. At this time, the HCR has a limited ability to verify “what costs for improvements really are.”

Tenants argue against the MCIs

Following statements from local elected officials, tenants then lined up to ask questions about the MCIs, the overall theme of which seemed to be: What can be done to stop them and why is CWCapital entitled to money for work that was paid for by Tishman Speyer?

Stuyvesant Town resident Liza Sabater asks a question as other tenants line up to do the same. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town resident Liza Sabater asks a question as other tenants line up to do the same. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

“CW is nobody who actually spent money on the major capital extortion, I mean improvement,” griped one tenant.

In response to the latter question, Collins said that it was standard that a new owner step into the shoes of the old owner.

As for the former question, Kavanagh responded to say the answer was in restoring home rule from the state to the city, because in the state legislature, many of the politicians making decisions on city housing law live outside the city with few rent-regulated renters as constituents.

Another resident then suggested that the Tenants Association purchase shares of Walker & Dunlop, the parent company of CWCapital, so tenants could be at company board meetings. This got the attention of Garodnick, who responded, “How much are shares? I say we do it.”

When another resident asked if tenants could be socked with yet another MCI for the ongoing renovation of the storefronts on First Avenue, the answer was no, because it doesn’t benefit all tenants.

Another resident, introducing herself as Emily Juno, said she’d lived in the community for 18 months and was never notified about a pending MCI. She added that she had neighbors who’d told her the same. In response, Collins said she wouldn’t have to pay it in that case, but also cautioned her to check her lease and any riders to make sure there was no reference to an MCI.

A resident named Liza Sabater, who said she’s raising two children in Stuyvesant Town, said she had a “mundane” question, which was that she didn’t even know the amount to put on her rent check. The wording in the MCI documents made her wonder if her rent had been increased by over $1,000, but Collins said no one’s rent had gone up that high, because the monthly MCI payments are capped at six percent of whatever each tenant’s rent was in 2009.

A longtime resident, Tom Hickey, said he didn’t believe the resurfacing MCI was valid because he recalled similar work being done at the turn of the millennium. (Later, he said he filed his own objection in 2009 to the  housing agency since the last resurfacing was actually done in 2003 or 2004 by Met Life.) Didn’t this, Hickey asked, mean the 2009 project occurred before the prior resurfacing had completed its useful life? Collins said he’d check to see if that information was included in his objections.

Another resident wanted to know why there was a retroactive portion if MCIs get paid on a monthly basis, anyway, to which Collins replied that, “It doesn’t make sense to me if it’s in perpetuity, but that’s the way the law works.”

Following the meeting, Steinberg said that the TA had collected around 750 signatures on its pledge for a joint challenge of the MCIs, but said the association was still looking for more and would be putting the pledge online on the TA website (stpcvta.org).

In related news, Hoylman, Garodnick and Kavanagh wrote a joint letter to HCR Commissioner Darryl Towns, expressing their concern over the recent flood of MCIs, asking that they be reviewed.

 

Editorial: Stringer clear choice for comptroller

Borough President Scott Stringer, pictured with Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Council Member Dan Garodnick, marching in the Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade in April  Photo by Sabina Mollot

Borough President Scott Stringer, pictured with Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Council Member Dan Garodnick, marching in the Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade in April
Photo by Sabina Mollot

Since his late entry into the race for city comptroller, former Governor Eliot Spitzer has garnered the lion’s share of the press out of the two candidates, though his rival, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, has also proven to be no slouch in that department.
Naturally, much of the headlines have focused on the hooker scandal that ended Spitzer’s career as governor rather than debates over whether Stringer or Spitzer is better equipped for the job of keeping an eye on the city’s books. It is worth noting though, that the media’s (and readers’ and viewers’) fascination with Spitzer’s past is hardly unfair, given it involved illegal activities. His attempt to re-enter the world of politics constantly brings to mind the debate of whether or not lawmakers who break the law should be forgiven and given a second chance. Ultimately, on Primary Day, September 10, the people will decide if they do.
However, we hope that New Yorkers make it clear that they don’t want to hire a hypocrite. Especially since there is another candidate, who (so far at least) has proven himself to be a law abiding citizen and, in his function as borough president, has become very much in the know about what New Yorkers’ needs are, and therefore where their tax dollars need to be spent and where they don’t.
On the one hand, Stringer, like, Spitzer, is no CPA, so their respective goals of becoming comptroller don’t seem like obvious job choices for either of them, but in politics, sometimes it’s just about entering the race in which the odds of winning seem higher. And this particular race at one point appeared to be a shoo-in for Stringer. The current standoff, however, with Spitzer’s name recognition and real estate money and Stringer’s own impressive war chest and celebrity endorsements, show that both of these guys mean business.
Still, we believe that of the two, Stringer is simply the better man for the job and he has our endorsement.
While normally, no one from this newspaper would even be focusing on the race for comptroller, the fact is that due to Spitzer’s salacious past, this race, like the one for mayor (in part due to the campaign of former Congressman and serial sexter Anthony Weiner), has attracted citywide interest.
But there may some distinct local interest as well. Residents of the Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village community may recall that Stringer, long before he ran for comptroller (ending that particular dream for Dan Garodnick) has been a supporter of residents here. He wrote an amicus brief for the tenants in the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” lawsuit and has seldom missing a meeting held by the Tenants Association.
He also, along with Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, has dreamt up the East River Blueway plan, which will revitalize the riverfront from the Brooklyn Bridge to East 38th Street, making the East Side of Manhattan more prepared for the next natural disaster while also giving area residents something they’ve never had before ― access to the water, complete with kayaks and beaches.
Stringer’s other projects in the past year alone have included unveiling the “Veggie Van,” a mobile greenmarket for underserved communities, releasing a report detailing the concerns of NYCHA residents about safety in their homes and releasing another report revealing deplorable conditions at local animal shelters.

East River Blueway plan calls for storm-protected, greener waterfront

ConEd after

A rendering depicts the East River waterfront after the addition of wetlands and trees.
Renderings courtesy of WXY Architecture + Urban Designs

By Sabina Mollot

Last Thursday, a plan was announced for the redevelopment of the East River waterfront from the Brooklyn Bridge to 38th Street, which would not only add a number of recreational water-related activities for area residents but also protect the East Side from a future Sandy-like disaster.

The plan, which has been in the works for over a year through a study conducted by Borough President Scott Stringer and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, not to mention the input of dozens of agencies and community groups, has yet to be formally discussed in detail.

However, some of the major aspects of the project, which could cost “in the tens of millions,” said Stringer, have already been provided for, such as $3.5 million allocated by the borough president for the addition of wetlands, specifically salt marshes, to spots along the riverfront.

The man-made wetlands would be extended from the shoreline and serve a few purposes. One is to add drainage under the FDR Drive to prevent flooding like that experienced during Sandy in the event of another storm. Other functions of the wetlands would be to help improve the overall quality of the water in the river and to encourage pedestrian access to the water.

“With this blueprint what we’re doing is opening up the Lower East Side waterfront,” said Stringer, “to amenities and beaches.”

Slide 1

This is an image of the proposed Blueway footbridge and storm surge barrier, looking north toward Stuyvesant Town and Stuy Cove. In addition to providing greater pedestrian connectivity, the bridge would also serve as a flood barrier for the Con Ed steam plant.

The salt marshes would be placed along the areas from the Brooklyn Bridge to Rutgers Slip and Stuyvesant Cove to around East 14th Street. They would improve water quality by helping to absorb some of the combined sewer overflow, which has a habit of showing up in the river at certain points after heavy rainfalls. Renderings for the plan, created by W X Y architecture + urban design, also show a number of new trees lining the area of what’s being called the East River Blueway.

Other parts of the plan for the Blueway include transforming the roof of the Skyport Garage into a garden and recreational area with some sort of food service and opening a boat launch on a floating dock for kayaks and other man-powered boats by Stuyvesant Cove Park as well as a kayak launch by the Brooklyn Bridge.

According to Kavanagh, the boat launches would actually be one of the less expensive aspects of the plan though it’s already proved to be a popular one. Last August, a kayak launch was organized at Stuyvesant Cove Park that was a huge hit with area residents. The event didn’t happen randomly though.

boat launch

Man-powered boat launches would be part of the Blueway plan by the Brooklyn Bridge and Stuyvesant Cove Park.

“It was partially intended to be a demonstration of the demand for that kind of thing,” said Kavanagh, who was there participating. “It was great to see people lining up all day to get kayaks.”

The kayaks would be included in the floating dock feature.

The plan also calls for an elevated footbridge to be built at 14th Street and the FDR Drive by the Con Ed steam plant. This would eliminate what’s become known as the “choke point,” where the foot and bike path is at its narrowest — four feet and six inches. It will also serve as a water barrier that, as it turns out, Con Ed needs if there’s a storm surge in order to prevent blackouts in the area.

This would probably be one of the more expensive projects to execute, but also one of the most necessary, said Kavanagh, if just to relieve traffic at the choke point. “As we continue to encourage waterfront projects, you get more people into this street,” he said.

As for the proposal for the Blueway, Stringer said over 40 stakeholders have been consulted so far from Con Ed to various city and state departments to elected officials to tenant groups like the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village and Waterside Tenants Associations and the Murray Hill Neighborhood Association. The Lower East Side Ecology Center and Community Boards 3 and 6 have also been involved and are considered community partners. There will also, Stringer noted, be many more opportunities for the community to weigh in, including in a few weeks time when more details are rolled out. The borough president and comptroller hopeful, who announced the plan in his state of the borough address, added that he also thought of the Blueway as “a model for the whole East Side and the whole city.

“Some projects will happen sooner rather than later, but look at what we have changed on the West Side waterfront,” he said. “We should start to do that on the East Side. It’s not fancy stuff. It’s priority.”

Stringer added that he wasn’t too worried about securing the funds for the project, despite its hefty estimated price tag. Compared to the over $60 billion in Sandy aid that’s become available and the billions in infrastructure that would be protected, “It’s really pennies on the dollar,” he said.

Kavanagh agreed about the funding, noting that the plan was still just that, in the idea phase, for the longterm vision of the East Side waterfront.

“We’re not saying, ‘Build it tomorrow,” he said. “Our goal is to have a comprehensive plan that looks at ways the community would like to use the river and protects the ecology of the river.”

The Blueway follows another proposed huge project that envisions a greener waterfront, the East River Greenway plan. The Greenway project includes expanding the United Nations campus and building a promenade from 38th to 60th Streets.