By Allie Ryan
I know what I will remember most vividly about the destruction of East River Park, it is being led away in handcuffs, under arrest! I’ll remember coming home to crying children who didn’t understand how long mommy might be in jail. And I’ll be reminded everyday that my girls will never again know the shade of 80 year old trees in the Lower East Side forest where they learned to ride bikes, their beloved East River Park.
The recent smoke-filled winds of the Canadian forest fires quickly took my thoughts back to the simple importance of those trees in our public parks that I continue to defend. Councilmember Carlina Rivera, who is a career “machine” politician, authorized the Lower East Side’s best defense from this poor air quality, 1000 trees, to be chopped down, and East River Park to be demolished in the name of climate resiliency.
Photo credit: Kim Sillen
During Super Storm Sandy when the East Village and Lower East Side were flooded, the popular park acted as a natural barrier and sponge soaking up the brunt of the storm so that the waters withdrew back into the East River in a few short hours. The initial coastal resiliency plan devised over a four-year period by the community, local electeds, and environmental experts would depend on nature and a berm to absorb flood waters from the river.
However, as the prime negotiator/councilmember CM Rivera influenced others to approve a $1.45 billion plan commonly called the ESCR (East Side Coastal Resiliency Project), (the price tag of which has increased) to completely level the park and raising the park as high as 8ft at its apex. 60% of this new park would be synthetic turf. The process would be repeated in 2050, preventing any trees or reforestation from ever taking effect for several generations.
My opponent refused to meet with residents against the plan, claiming that NYCHA members supported it, which proved to be ultimately untrue. https://indypendent.org/2022/08/carlina-rivera-and-the-untold-history-of-how-east-river-park-was-destroyed/ Her supporters tried to portray me as a candidate who doesn’t hold the interest of the community at heart. Rivera and her husband moved from a flood evacuation zone to a high-rise where the consequences of her political policy decision would not affect her family. The residential building in which my family resides received water up the doorknobs, and all ground floor apartments experienced complete devastation. Yet my neighbors and I are the ones accused of not having an interest in preventing flooding? But the misinformation and misdirection we would have to endure while trying to prevent Rivera’s destructive path did not dissuade us.
Recently an ESCR representative admitted at a public meeting that the project leaders don’t know when the infill will settle and that the work is both behind schedule and missing promised benchmarks. Transparency has been completely lacking around the project, forcing the community to rely on the Freedom of Information requests and lawsuits to gain knowledge.
Concessions Councilwoman Rivera claimed to have negotiated have been ignored by the City without objections from her. My opponent’s latest claim is that the City lied to her about the study. This is not leadership. Whether due to dishonesty or incompetency – Councilmember Rivera’s days of service must end in favor of a representative like myself who will put our community’s ecological health first.
Today I ask my fellow residents in City Council District 2 to vote for me on Primary Day, June 27th 2023. And if you can’t wait that long, vote for me NEXT WEEK during Early Voting (June 17-25th) – whatever you do, PLEASE VOTE.