New York, NY – State Senator Liz Krueger, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, and Councilmember Dan Garodnick announced today that they will hold a series of public forums in August and September to seek input on an outline plan that would allow the United Nations to construct a new building on a portion of a public park in exchange for major park and waterfront open space improvements on Manhattan’s East Side.
The goal of the forums is to reach a community-led consensus on the details of what is now only a basic framework that has the potential to create a much-needed waterfront esplanade and other open space and park improvements for the public along with consolidated facilities and improved security for the UN.
The elected officials also unveiled a new interactive website, www.eastsideopenspace.com, that is designed to provide information on the outline plan and to receive feedback and questions that will be part of the ample public comment process. Video presentations of the forums and other related materials will also be available on the website.
The three forums will be as follows:
• Forum #1: Thursday, August 4th, 4-7pm, NYU Medical Center, 550 First Avenue (enter at First Avenue at 31st Street)
• Forum #2: Thursday, September 8th, 4-7pm, Sutton Place Synagogue, 225 East 51st Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
• Forum #3: Tuesday, September 20th 5-8pm, NYU Medical Center, 550 First Avenue (enter at First Avenue at 31st Street).
In announcing the forums, Senator Krueger said, “We have a once in a lifetime opportunity in which residents can contribute to crucial urban planning goals in their own community that will expand park space, reconnect East Midtown to the waterfront and help close the gap in the Greenway around Manhattan. The UN's need for a more secure 21st century campus, combined with government's desire to maximize revenue streams, provides a unique possibility to develop a short- and long-term blueprint that will transform the East Side of Manhattan along the river from 60th Street down to the twenties.”
Assemblymember Kavanagh said, “For years people have sought to expand and improve our parkland, create access to our waterfront, and accommodate the operational and security needs of the UN. Over the next twelve weeks, we have an opportunity to negotiate a framework that would help achieve all these objectives, if the City and the U.N. are prepared to meet us halfway. We’re working on a tight timeframe, but we’ll be making every effort to ensure that people are aware of what’s being proposed and have opportunities to have input and raise questions.”
“It has been a long-standing goal to expand park land in an area that is starved for it and to improve access to the East River waterfront – and this is a great opportunity to achieve it,” said Councilmember Dan Garodnick. “The framework that we are discussing now has been floating around for many years, so we are looking forward to this public process to put meat on the bones and develop a proposal that the community will embrace.”
Under a law recently signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, a rectangular blacktop recreation space on First Avenue between 41st and 42nd Streets, currently the western part of Robert Moses Playground, would be transferred to the UN only if an agreement can be reached by October 10, 2011 to replace the lost parkland, create greater access to the East River, and develop waterfront amenities in the area. The project potentially includes an esplanade along the East River from 38th to 60th Street and conversion of Asser Levy Place from 23rd to 25th Streets from a street to a park.
Participants in the forums will be invited to explore the effects of the plan and the potential for park and waterfront open space projects to benefit the area, and to hear the views of their neighbors. The forums, led by Krueger, Kavanagh, and Garodnick, will be co-sponsored by Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblymember Micah Kellner, Councilmembers Jessica Lappin and Rosie Mendez, and Community Boards 6 and 8.
As previously announced, on Tuesday, July 26th, from 9:30a.m. to 4:00p.m. at NYU Medical Center, an intensive design workshop will be held to explore ideas for public recreational uses for the pier between East 38th and East 41st Streets on the East River, which is covered in the legislation. This design charrette is co-sponsored by the elected officials and Community Board 6, hosted by the Municipal Art Society, and will incorporate input from design experts as well as the community.
“For too long, the East Midtown waterfront has been an underused asset. We have an extraordinary opportunity to build an esplanade along the river in East Midtown and create a new park in the area – but before we move forward, we should take some time to imagine what this new, expanded waterfront would look like. These community forums will enable New Yorkers to learn more about the proposal and offer their opinions and suggestions,” said Rep. Maloney. “I was proud to secure federal funding to study the feasibility and costs of creating an East River esplanade, and I hope that the city and state will reach an agreement that will provide replacement and mitigation for taking Robert Moses Park, and ensure that there are sufficient resources to build a new esplanade so that we can realize the full potential of our waterfront.”
Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer said, “Senator Krueger, Assemblymember Kavanagh and Councilmember Garodnick have undertaken great efforts to broker an agreement that will accommodate the United Nations institutional growth while providing waterfront amenities and new open space for the East Side community. Before any deal moves forward, it will be necessary to ensure that the United Nations makes important concessions to the surrounding community that has embraced it for the last 60 years. I encourage all community stakeholders to attend these upcoming public forums and share their visions for the future of their neighborhood.”
“This is what open government is all about,” said Assemblymember Kellner. “It’s essential that everyone has the opportunity to have their voice heard when dealing with a proposal of this magnitude. These forums will be a great way to make sure those who use our parklands everyday have a say in their future.”
Councilmember Jessica Lappin said, “The East Side of Manhattan is starved for parkland. And we desperately need to upgrade our access to the waterfront. That's why I look forward to an open and engaging dialogue with the community on this important issue.”
Mark Thompson, Chair of Community Board Six, said, “This is an historic, once-in-a-lifetime chance to change our environment. By taking back our waterfront and filling in the mile long missing link we can create something amazing for generations to come. Community Board Six urges everyone to let their voices be heard by attending the upcoming meetings and sending us their thoughts and dreams for the waterfront.”
Chair of Community Board 8, Jacqueline Ludorf said,”Community Board 8 appreciates this forum to help improve the quality of our esplanade and waterfront.”