The floodwall at Stuyvesant Cove Park under construction in September 2021.
NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner Thomas Foley and NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) Executive Vice President and Chief Infrastructure Officer Josh Kraus joined elected officials and community leaders May 31 to open the northern section of the new Stuyvesant Cove Park along the East River in Manhattan between East 20th Street and East 23rd Street.
The remainder of the park, from East 18th Street to East 20th Street, will open later this summer.
The park is the second section of East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) to open to the public. The original Stuyvesant Cove Park closed in late-2020 when construction began on ESCR and the roughly 1,400-ft.-long park has been rebuilt with new planting and seating areas, new paths and railings as well as a new floodwall and flood gates that are part of ESCR's flexible flood protection system.
A newly rebuilt section of the Manhattan Greenway also has been added on the other side of the park's floodwall and new lighting has been added under the FDR Drive near the park. Two new flood gates have been installed, a swinging gate at East 23rd Street which is 42 ft. long and weighs 16 tons and a sliding gate at East 20th Street which is 77 ft. long and weighs 47.5 tons.
The gates are designed to remain open to allow continuous access to the waterfront but will be shut before future storm or flood events. Eventually 18 gates total will be installed under ESCR.
"Preserving and enhancing public spaces with waterfront views, must be an objective for all coastal resiliency projects," said Deputy Mayor of Operations Meera Joshi. "The opening of this phase of ESCR comes at a time when residents will benefit from its design the most, and not just because it's the start of hurricane season, but also because the warm weather is here."
"New York City's newest park serves a dual purpose, helping the City respond to climate change and the threat of storms and rising seas while also being a world-class waterfront recreation area," said Foley.
"Stuyvesant Cove Park is now integrated with 1,400 feet of new floodwalls and two new flood gates that can be closed when needed to protect the 128,000 people who live in the area that will be protected by East Side Coastal Resiliency. The design truly is the most advanced in the country for flood protection projects that also maintain waterfront access and provide leisure and exercise areas."
"The opening of the northern part of Stuyvesant Cove Park furthers the Adams Administration's commitment to expanding and improving our public realm across New York City," said New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Andrew Kimball. "These much needed renovations will not only provide improved outdoor spaces, but they will also add flood protections for the surrounding community.
"Continued public realm investments like Stuyvesant Cove Park are part of our commitment to making New York City a great place to live, work and play."
"East Side Coastal Resiliency, spanning from Montgomery Street to East 25th Street, protects a diverse community of more than 110,000 New Yorkers from the extreme weather being delivered by our changing climate," said New York City Chief Climate Officer Rohit T. Aggarwala. "With the start of hurricane season upon us, I thank our partners at DDC for completing this complex stage of the work which also provides the community with a rebuilt Greenway and new lighting, plantings, paths and benches."
"New York City is leading complex, ambitious work in a dense environment to protect New Yorkers against rising sea levels and more intense storms while reimagining open space and our relationship to the water," said Victoria Cerullo, acting executive director of the Mayor's Office of Climate & Environmental Justice. "The opening of the second public section of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, with the innovative partnership of Solar One, is an important milestone as we head into the summer and for many years to come."
Stuyvesant Cove Park's new floodwalls are underpinned by two rows of piles seen here driven up to 125 ft. into the ground in this December 2021 photo.
"Stuyvesant Cove Park is a beloved green space near and dear to me and many in the community," said City Council Majority Leader Keith Powers. "As summer begins, I am pleased to see it reopen with millions of dollars' worth of upgrades, including a new flood wall and gate. These critical investments will keep over 100,000 New Yorkers safe from floods and rising sea levels as we confront the realities of climate change."
"The communities of the East Side are on the frontlines of the climate crisis, and I am proud to stand with colleagues as critical flood protection improvements are unveiled at Stuy Cove Park. This ribbon cutting represents an important milestone in an ambitious resilience project that will provide flood protection for more than 110,000 New Yorkers and can serve as a national model. I commend the Department of Design and Construction and NYCEDC on their steadfast commitment to protecting vulnerable communities and enhancing waterfront access on the East Side for generations to come," said Councilmember Carlina Rivera.
"As global temperatures continue to rise, we know the frequency and intensity of flooding events will increase. New infrastructure should not only increase coast resiliency but must also focus on an essential quality of life issue; access to open space. The newly opened Stuyvesant Cove Park gives residents access to new and improved park space, while also serving to protect the community from future storms. I applaud the work that has been done on Stuy Cove Park, and hope it can serve as a model for future infrastructure around the city," said State Senator Kristen Gonzalez.
A swinging flood gate at the northern end of Stuyvesant Cove Park being installed in February 2022.
"New Yorkers deserve a coastline as resilient as its people," said Congressman Jerry Nadler. "I commend DDC, EDC and its partners on the reopening of Stuyvesant Cove Park North, now equipped with new floodwalls and flood gates that will provide climate resilient open space along the East Side's waterfront to be enjoyed by the community for generations to come."
"We at Solar One are thrilled to see Stuyvesant Cove Park reopen to the public," said Stephen Levin CEO, Solar One. "As the stewards of Stuyvesant Cove Park, in partnership with EDC and the community, over almost two decades, we remain committed to seeing Stuyvesant Cove Park serve as a vital and long term resource for teaching resiliency and sustainability to many generations of New Yorkers to come. Congratulations to Mayor Adams, Councilmember Powers, Councilmember Carlina Rivera, Assemblymember Epstein, Senator Gonzalez, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, DDC, EDC, Solar One staff and board of directors, and the countless people who worked to make this reopening a reality."
Stuyvesant Cove Park
New planting and seating areas, new paths and railings as well as a new floodwall and flood gates are part of the new Stuyvesant Cove Park.
DDC managed construction of the new park for EDC, which will operate it. When completed, the entire new Stuyvesant Cove Park from East 18th Street to East 23rd Street will include 7,095 cu. yds. of soil, and will have 75 newly planted trees and 579 new shrubs throughout. There will be 1,180 ft. of concrete precast seating areas that are also designed to break up the force of any waves that may approach the floodwall from the East River, along with benches and tables and chairs for park users. Along the sea wall, 1,345 ft. of new decorative railings will have been added.
The floodwall in the park is 1,340 ft. not counting the gates and rests on 173 piles driven up to 125 ft. below ground to support the wall, using 3,349 cu. yds. of concrete and 333 tons of reinforcing steel. An additional layer of sheet piling installed up to 60 ft. deep blocks water from the East River that may infiltrate the neighborhood from underground during future storm or flood events.
East Side Coastal Resiliency
ESCR is a $1.45 billion climate resiliency project that will provide flood protection and improve open spaces for more than 110,000 New Yorkers, including 28,000 residents in NYCHA housing. The project is building a 2.4-mi.-long flexible flood barrier consisting of walls, gates, berms and raised parkland from Montgomery Street at the southern end up to Asser Levy Playground between East 23rd and East 25th streets, areas that were severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Managed by DDC, it also will upgrade existing sewer systems to capture and manage precipitation during storms.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provided $338 million for the project.
Construction of ESCR began in November 2020 in Asser Levy Playground, and in July 2022, Mayor Adams joined with numerous city agencies and local officials to reopen the playground, which was rebuilt with a 45-ton sliding flood gate, a floodwall and new resilient play areas and equipment.
In addition to Stuyvesant Cove and Asser Levy, ESCR also is upgrading East River Park, Corlears Hook Park, Murphy Brothers Playground and other open spaces in the area, making them more resilient and accessible while adding new and improved amenities, including improved waterfront access through reconstructed bridges and entry points.
East River Park will be elevated approximately 8 ft. with upgraded recreational facilities, new passive-use areas, and approximately 2,000 trees — including 50 different species selected for their ability to withstand salt spray and extreme weather.
ESCR also will build footings for a future pedestrian bridge elevating the Manhattan Greenway over its narrowest point along the East River, improving community access to the park.
The end date of ESCR has been extended to 2026 in order to accommodate local residents' request that construction in East River Park be phased so that roughly half the park remains open throughout construction.
In October 2022, Mayor Adams and other officials broke ground on a companion project to ESCR's south called Brooklyn Bridge — Montgomery Coastal Resiliency (BMCR). BMCR will construct a 0.82-mi. long system of flood gates that will flip up from the ground in the event of a storm or flood event, and will also improve recreation areas along its route.
Together, ESCR and BMCR will form a 3.22-mi. system of flood protection from the Brooklyn Bridge north to Asser Levy Playground.
In August 2022, ESCR received an "Envision Gold Award" from the Institute For Sustainable Infrastructure.
For more information, visit nyc.gov/ddc.
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