A plan to turn the East River waterfront into a green urban oaisis that will protect THE city against future storms took one step further last week.
Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh formally unveiled the East River Blueway Plan – an ambitious proposal to transform the waterfront from the Brooklyn Bridge to East 38th Street with amenities and protections.
The 78-page plan, which grew out of community meetings and consultations with experts, blends waterfront enhancements — including new bike paths, beaches and boat launches – with storm protections for an area hit severely by Hurricane Sandy.
The project was developed in conjunction with WXY architecture + urban design, along with Community Boards 3 and 6, the Lower East Side Ecology Center and the New York State Department of Coastal Resources.
It was unveiled at Cooper Union’s Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, before an audience of hundreds of East Side residents.
“When we set out to redesign an often forgotten stretch of our precious waterfront 16 months ago, we wanted a plan created by the community and for the community, so we reached out to neighborhoods to get their best ideas and we rolled up our sleeves,” said Borough President Stringer.
“The result is a roadmap that addresses the lack of access to the East River shoreline, as well as the critical weaknesses exposed by Hurricane Sandy.”
Stringer’’s office is committing $3.5 million to explore storm mitigation strategies like new wetlands along the FDR Drive, to help turn the plan into a reality.
Calling the plan — for which a drive for funding is now underway — a “model for regional planning and engagement,” Stringer said storm mitigation elements would include extending protective wetlands out from the existing shoreline and add better draining beneath the FDR Highway to absorb and re-direct the next great surge.
An active waterfront destination would also fortify the shoreline beneath the Brooklyn Bridge and a new, green pedestrian bridge could also serve as a sturdy flood barrier for the Con-Ed Plant that now stands exposed at East 14th Street, right at the water’s edge.
Gigi Li, chair of Community Board 3, said the plan was “a shining example of how government, local partners, and residents, can work together.”
She added, “We look forward to implementing this plan, and making the east river waterfront a destination for both residents and visitors throughout the city.”