East River Park: Nearly Ten Years of Renovations

Posted on: October 20th, 2010 at 9:14 am by

When it comes to the East River Park promenade renovations, what’s another nine months in the scheme of things.  The project has been ongoing for nearly ten years already.  In that time, the city has opened select park parcels in a piecemeal fashion. The whole shebang should open by next July.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

This image has been archived or removed.

[Photo Credit: Barry Yanowitz]

So yesterday, WNYC decided to investigate further.  What follows is an in-depth look at the issue, including the cause for such egregious delays.

One day in late June of 2001, the mile-long dilapidated riverfront promenade was suddenly shut down. The Giuliani administration feared it might collapse under the weight of the thousands of people who were expected for the Fourth of July fireworks just days later.

The city has reopened the park — snuggled between the FDR Drive and the water — segment by segment, as each segment is finished. The playing fields were revamped several years ago. A long stretch of the promenade opened earlier this year. But the three or four southernmost blocks are still shrouded behind a chain link fence.


Henry Stern, Mayor Giuliani’s parks commissioner, predicted the promenade would be closed for two years. That’s grown into something more like ten years.

The Parks Department chose the contractor, Pile Foundation Construction Company, in 2004 because it was the lowest bidder…During the five years since construction began, Pile Foundation several times ran afoul of state laws intended to clean up New York’s waterways, according to the State Department of Environmental Conservation. Inspectors have cited the contractor for dumping dirt from the construction project into the East River, or failing to take steps to prevent such erosion from happening.

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