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Last-Ditch Rallying to Save Historic East River Park Buildings Slated for Demolition

As the city inches closer to leveling East River Park as part of the $1.45 billion coastal resiliency plan, local preservationists are trying to save two architectural relics built decades ago.

Organized by the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, dozens gathered at the Tennis Center comfort station in the park this past Sunday to protest the imminent demolition.

Both buildings – also the Track House near East 6th Street – are doomed, despite recognition last year for historical significance by the State and National Registers of Historic Places by the New York State Historic Preservation Office. Each was constructed (and completed) in 1938, and ready for the park opening one year later.

However, these 72-year-old gems stand in the way of the city’s controversial plan to raze and rebuild the park in the name of coastal resilience. There are replacement structures lined up, albeit bland and without the historic connection.

Initial study by the grassroots group found that renovation of one or both buildings could be accomplished without significantly delaying the overall resiliency project or increasing the budget. LESPI called for the City to retain a preservation architect to produce an independent, objective assessment of this plan, but the City reportedly declined.

Tennis Comfort Station, Photo: NYC Parks

Chris Marte, City Councilmember-elect for District 1, was also in attendance, and called for the City to stop stonewalling, and step up and do the right thing by saving the two buildings.