New York Daily News De Blasio tucks $35M into 2015 city budget proposal for East River Esplanade by Simone Weichselbaum
Mayor de Blasio tossed the crumbling East River Esplanade a sandbag — promising to use $35 million of the 11-figure sum contained in his 2015 budget to repair the troublesome waterfront trail.
The pledge will be put to immediate use, but it will fund only a fraction of the emergency fixes the Parks Department needs to save the 4-mile waterfront strip from sinking into the murky drink.
Upper East Side Councilman Ben Kallos pushed his colleagues to request a $115 million allocation in the spending plan proposed by the Council in April.
De Blasio’s partial payout didn’t diminish Kallos’ determination to save the long-neglected, hole-ridden path, which runs from E. 60th St. to E. 125th St. The freshman pol vowed to continue pressing City Hall to up its investment.
“It’s the first step in the process,” Kallos said, explaining that he wants uptown business owners to help the city beautify the trail by building up the pathway with food stands and other concessions.
In the meantime, analysts will survey the strip’s worst — and most dangerous — spots so the city can put the $35 million infusion to best use.
“This will ensure that the esplanade will continue to be open and safe for Parks patrons,” a Parks Department spokesman said.
Manhattan’s northeastern shoreline has fallen into disrepair even as the Hudson River Greenway on the West Side continues to bloom. The stark difference has angered greenspace enthusiasts.
“This looks like it’s been neglected financially; there is no denying that,” said biker Pierre Defendini, 44, eyeing the three-foot wide chunks of missing pavement that have fallen into the East River.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney said the mayor’s pledge was only a piece of what’s needed.
“It’s a down payment to save money later,” Maloney said of de Blasio’s $35 million pledge, noting that further neglect would inflate the cost even more. “We’ve been working on this for many years.”
Maloney and then-Upper East Side Councilwoman Jessica Lappin obtained detailed cost estimates for the repairs after they launched an East River esplanade task force in 2010.
One of the planning organizations represented on that panel, Civitas, will hold a public meeting on June 24 in East Harlem to get residents’ input about the esplanade’s brightening future.