The East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) is a resiliency initiative undertaken by New York City that aims to protect the East Side of Manhattan from flood risk and sea level rise. The ESCR project area spans from Montgomery Street to East 15th Street and includes our Studio’s area of focus, East River Park. Working on behalf of East River Park Action (ERPA) over the past two semesters, our Studio has sought to understand the shortcomings of the ESCR Plan at present, as they relate to the initial community engagement efforts and the threats of climate change and COVID-19. Further, we aim to identify how our findings might be leveraged in the best interest of affected communities. Finally, we look towards resilience as a more abstract concept, using the ESCR Plan as a case study to surmise how resilience might best be integrated into the planning field at large.
Our research and analysis, as framed above, have yielded the following results and recommendations:
- Provide greater transparency with regard to the environmental impacts of park construction by way of publishing data from noise and air quality monitoring devices.
- Expand existing open space alternatives, or provide direct assistance to residents that promote access to other open spaces throughout the city.
- Incentivize contractors for quick project turnover of completed portions of the park. Hold contractors responsible for any delays that prevent re-opening of the park to the public on schedule.
- Ensure full community buy-in for new park amenities and reuse of all viable elements of the current park.
- Establish a memorial to the current park through documentation of its history using photos, videos, and signage.
- Improve project accountability by implementing a community scorecard system to allow local evaluation of the project with financial repercussions for the construction team.
- Continue to provide advance notice for closures and disruptions due to construction activities.