A final public debate forum on the proposed East River Greenway project was held last week, drawing a crowd of more than 300 people. The project calls for filling a gap in the East River Greenway, approximately 1.2 miles long, stretching from Glick Park at East 37th street all the way up to East 60th street. The gap currently forces pedestrians and cyclists to detour inland, leading them into congested streets, which many local residents consider dangerous. Although some residents oppose the extension, most who testified during the debate were in favor of the deal.
Supporters of East River Greenway project cite the high number of crashes compiled by CrashStat 2.0, which have taken place along 1st and 2nd Avenues. Completing the Greenway would provide an off-road path for pedestrians and cyclists to safely avoid the congested avenues of Midtown.
The project will be funded through a land swap agreement between the city and the United Nations, which would allow the UN to build a new tower on the Robert Moses Playground, just south of the UN headquarters. The agreement also identifies another area for a new park, and “would also provide for the city to take control of a former Con Edison pier at East 38th Street to turn into new open space,” which would improve pedestrian access to the pier.
Many local residents from Tudor City, however, have expressed concern about the traffic and security concerns the new UN building would bring, along with blocked views of the waterfront. There is also a growing concern on spiked insurance rates in light of a potential terrorist attack close to their homes because of the new UN building.
Despite the objections of some residents, the majority of people strongly support the East River Greenway project. According to Friends of the East River Greenway, an organization founded to support the greenway project, a survey showed that 73 percent of local residents support the plan to give up a portion of Robert Moses Playground if it means getting an esplanade.
Senator Liz Kruger has also dismissed complaints of insurance spikes, saying that such an increase might be illegal. “For me, as an elected official, I need to balance the needs and demands of a much larger universe than two buildings,” Krueger said.
During the debate Amanda Vallon, age 11, gave a heart warming speech on how she loves playing in Robert Moses Playground, asking elected officials to solicit for donations to finance the project’s proposed esplanade, instead of selling the playground.
Many still aren’t convinced. “It’s empty most of the time,” said one local resident to DNAinfo. “All of a sudden when the whole city can gain something out of the property, all these people come out of the woodwork like it’s a precious piece of property.”
And he may be right. Most residents would probably agree; some sacrifices need to be made for the greater good.
Lead image © Jim Henderson via Wikimedia commons