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East River Park Gets a Touch-Up, and Ideas for a Facelift

Paul Yanchyshyn and Diana Carulli give new color to a painted labyrinth in East River Park.Melvin Felix Paul Yanchyshyn and Diana Carulli give new color to a painted labyrinth in East River Park.

After five weekends of weeding, mulching and painting, the women of the New York Junior League will unveil upgrades at East River Park tomorrow. The Playground Improvement Project, a committee of the league, volunteered its time throughout the spring to beautify 57 acres of riverfront between East 12th Street and Montgomery Street.

Visitors will now find new benches, fresh coats of paint on playground equipment and fences, as well as a brand new flower garden near the tennis courts at Houston Street.

The improvements are likely to be folded into the Blueway project, a proposal to make the shore along the East River, from the Brooklyn Bridge north to East 38th Street, as accessible and pleasant as Hudson River Park to the west.

Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, one of the promoters of the Blueway, said the improvements to the park were welcome during the project’s early planning stages. “I saw first hand how they’ve been working hard getting the park ready for the summer for residents to enjoy,” said Mr. Kavanagh. Read more…

Swimming Pools in the East River? Maybe. But First, Marshes

UntitledKathryn Doyle A beach under the Brooklyn Bridge is
inundated with sewage waste and runoff
from South Street in rainy weather

Swimming pools in the East River? Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer floated the idea in a video introduction to the Blueway, a project that would revitalize a stretch of the East River from the Brooklyn Bridge to Midtown East. And it’s not as farfetched as you’d think: the historically polluted waterway is perfectly swimmable by Environmental Protection Agency standards. There’s just one problem: sewage overflows.

Dan Tainow, education director at the Lower East Side Ecology Center, explained the issue to local residents yesterday during a tour of the East River that doubled as a discussion of the Blueway project. Due to the age of New York City’s sewer system, he said, wastewater from household sinks, showers and toilets shares the same set of pipes as runoff from city streets.

Most of Lower Manhattan’s wastewater travels through this pipe system to the Newtown Creek plant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where it is cleaned, filtered and released into the East River. But during the fifty to sixty rainy days per year when gushes of street water could overwhelm the pipe system and force sewage back up into homes, the sewage is diverted directly into the East River by Combined Sewage Outflows, or CSOs. Read more…

Pols, Residents Ponder: What Should East River ‘Blueway’ Look Like?

East-River-Blueway_Interactive-Map An interactive map allows users to submit Blueway ideas.

“The west side has the High Line, Hudson River Park, Chelsea Piers,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer at the first community-wide planning meeting for the East River Blueway. “Now it’s time for the East Side to have an iconic outdoor space.”

In its planning stages since September 2011, the Blueway aims to make the East River more accessible, with beautified walkways, from the Brooklyn Bridge to East 38th Street. Yesterday’s meeting brought together residents, politicians, and members of Community Board 6 as well as the project’s design team to share ideas regarding water access, biking routes, and improved water quality for swimming, kayaking and fishing.

Crossing the FDR is currently a major obstacle to accessing the river. According to Adam Lubinsky, Managing Principal of WXY Architecture + Urban Design, the East Side has only half the number of street crossings – including underpasses, overpasses and street level pathways – as the West Side. “How can we engage with a river that we’ve been separated from for so long?” asked Mr. Lubinsky. Read more…