New York Daily News An uptown pol says a crumbling stretch of the East River Esplanade needs $115M in emergency repairs by Simone Weichselbaum

New York Daily News
New York Daily News
An uptown pol says a crumbling stretch of the East River Esplanade needs $115M in emergency repairs
Simone Weichselbaum
05/07/2014

It’s the trail of two cities.

 

The long-neglected uptown stretch of the East River Esplanade — a four-mile cycling and pedestrian path that’s crumbling into Manhattan’s murky waterway — needs $115 million in speedy repairs in order to stay afloat.

It’s a world of difference from the lush emerald pathways that afford access to the Hudson River waterfront.

“There are a lot of people who have envy of the West Side parks,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos. “Residents on the East Side and in East Harlem need a park they can enjoy and feel safe in.”

 

 

The freshman lawmaker from the Upper East Side led a push to include funding for the Parks Department’s estimated nine-figure restoration project in the City Council’s budget proposal. The item stresses that construction crews need to get to work “as soon as possible.”

Kallos persuaded his cohorts to make the demand, explaining that the strip — which runs from E. 60th St. to E. 125th St. — constitutes the most expansive stretch of green in upper Manhattan’s eastern pocket.

 

Mayor de Blasio is expected to release his final budget plan Thursday. His office ignored a request for comment on whether City Hall will approve the East River Esplanade restoration.

 

A Parks Department study, released in October, warned that it will cost a whopping $430 million to replace the esplanade’s edges if immediate fixes aren’t made soon.

 

Across the island, West Siders have ready access to the Hudson River Greenway, an uninterrupted, 11-mile stretch that connects Inwood to Battery Park City. Tennis courts, restaurants and sprawling manicured lawns line the popular strip, a crown jewel of recreation.

 

The disparity perplexed cyclists and fishermen on the East River Esplanade near E. 125th St. — a dead-end that cuts off northern Manhattan from the downtown eastern shoreline.

 

“This looks like it’s been neglected financially, there is no denying that,” said biker Pierre Defendini, 44, eyeing the 3-foot wide chunks of missing pavement that have fallen into the East River.

The South Bronx filmmaker said he was making his first ride along the path, and he questioned why the city spent $612 million to replace the nearby Willis Ave. Bridge, linking the Bronx to Manhattan, without repairing the esplanade.

 

“The money goes where the people with money live,” Defendini said. “The people on this side of Manhattan have less money.”

Veteran East Harlem fisherman Matthew Harris, 71, didn’t have much faith that the de Blasio administration would greenlight the pricey renovation, but urged the mayor to approve the plan.

 

“I understand we are in a recession,” Harris said. “Maybe these politicians can find it in their hearts to give us a beautiful area. It’s something worthwhile.”