Volume 16 • Issue 36 | February 06 - 12, 2004

Ball fields near completion; East R. walkway plan to begin

By Albert Amateau

Downtown Express photo by Robert Stolarik

East River Park with the Williamsburg Bridge in the background.

The $50-million reconstruction of the East River Park promenade, stretching from Jackson St. on the Lower East Side to E. 12th St. and closed for more than two years, is scheduled to begin this autumn.

The 1.25-mile park project, outlined at a Jan. 27 Community Board 3 meeting and eagerly awaited by East Village and Lower East Side residents, is scheduled to open in stages, the first 2,000 sq. feet in the summer of 2005.

The entire promenade along the East River is to be completed by the summer of 2006, according to Lawrence Mauro, project manager for the Department of Parks and Recreation, who made the presentation with Elaine Crowley, administrator of city parks in District 3, and John Williams, of MKW Associates, landscape architect for the project.

“After the promenade is finished, we’ll begin work on the bikeway that runs on the western side of the park along the F.D.R. Drive’” Mauro said.

The new promenade will include two “embayments” or inlets, one just south and the other just north of Houston St. “They will bring some East River water into the park,” said Williams. Plans call for bridges across the openings of the bays in addition to the broader walkways curving around them.

A new entrance to the park will be built south of Jackson St. and the reconstructed promenade will have new benches and lighting.

Four new ball fields near Houston St., currently being built as a separate project with funding from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. are expected to open this spring. Two of the fields will be natural grass and two will be artificial turf.

The amphitheater at Grand St., renovated two years ago, will get a new paint job and a new handicap access ramp. The project will include new bathrooms and a reconstruction fireboat station at Grand St. But there is no funding yet to refurbish any other buildings in the park, Mauro said.

The width of the promenade will vary from 18 to 32 feet with plazas carved out in the widest areas. Bordering trees, some planted 60 years ago when the promenade was built on pilings in the river, will be saved and replanted if healthy and replaced where necessary.

The promenade was closed in the summer of 2001 when a Department of Parks survey determined that many of the piles that support the deck were being destroyed by a combination of marine borers and dry rot. The plan then was to complete the reconstruction in two years, “barring unforeseen circumstances.” The World Trade Center attack interrupted the plans.

The project will require the removal of two Con Edison electrical feeder cables and an abandoned fuel line that run the length of the promenade. The electrical cables will be relocated to the bike path along the F.D.R. Drive, Mauro said.

The project will go out to bid this spring, contract approval is expected in July and construction will begin in the autumn, Mauro said.



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