Two Activists Arrested as City Begins East River Park Demolition for Coastal Resiliency

Posted on: November 2nd, 2021 at 5:01 am by

Photo: Emily Johnson

The battle between activists and the city spilled into East River Park yesterday, as construction officially commenced on the southerly leg of the East Side Coastal Resilience Project.

Several sign-toting activists, including City Council District 2 challenger Allie Ryan, lined up yesterday afternoon to halt activities in the 46-acre park. The protest action thwarted the commencement of work for several hours. After a lengthy standoff, though, police ultimately arrested Ryan and Alice O’Malley, both of whom refused to move from the entrance to the tennis courts where work was to begin.

Photo: Pat Arnow

This is just the first phase, with partial closure of portions of the southern end of the park and creation of new pedestrian routes to accommodate equipment movement and perimeter fencing. As expected, additional phased park closures will happen from November 21 into 2022 to “accommodate an aggressive work schedule to ensure timely completion,” per the city.

As reported, the $1.45 billion plan will see the destruction and rebirth of the park eight feet higher than the status quo. It means the removal of one thousand mature trees, demolition of architecturally significant Track House and Tennis Center Comfort Station, and the loss of open public space on the coastline.

Photo: DDC

In an attempt to remorse community concerns, workers last week transformed the former compost yard of the Lower East Side Ecology Center into a “passive lawn” for recreational access.

East River Park is the last section of the project to enter construction. Work in the northern areas of the coastline began exactly one year ago near Asser Levy Playground and Stuyvesant Cove Park.

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