New York City’s bold plan to bury East River Park is based on a phantom study that doesn’t exist, opponents of the $1.4 billion project charge.
East River Park Action said it came up empty when it asked the city for a copy of a value engineering study touted as the basis for the flood prevention initiative. The group filed a Freedom of Information Law request and was told by the city’s Department of Design and Construction that no records could be found.
In 2018, the city scrapped another flood protection plan, which would have kept the 57-acre park in tact, and went with a proposal to bury it in eight to 10 feet of fill before rebuilding it. The city would also remove 1,000 trees, which would eventually be replaced.
The de Blasio Administration said in 2018 that the new design “follows a value engineering study performed earlier this year and a review of the project by a panel of experts with experience from around the nation.” The city contended the revamped proposal would provide flood protection sooner.
But no study document was ever produced. A Dutch expert who did an independent analysis of the proposal in 2019 said he was unable to get his hands on it.
Now opposition group East River Park Action wants the project to stop and another review be done.
“We think that this new plan should definitely be reviewed by environmentalists, by independent analysts (and) engineers to see whether this plan is better than the prior one,” said Fannie Ip, a member of the group.
The group sued the city unsuccessfully last year to stop the project.
A spokesman for the Department of Design and Construction acknowledged there was no document, but that the results of the “work exercise” could be found in the project’s environmental review.
“We’ve consistently said that it was a study, not a report,” Ian Michaels said.
Preliminary work on the project has already started.