New York, NY-For six years, East River Esplanade Task Force Co-Chairs, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-12) and Council Member Ben Kallos (D-5) have tried to get funds for repairs to a stretch along the East River Esplanade from 81st Street at 90e Street, known as the John Finley Walk. Today, joined by community council leaders and civic groups, they applauded the city’s announcement of $ 80 million for renovations and repairs.
Kallos said that on her first day on the job as a council member in 2014, the congresswoman told her they had to work together to rebuild the Esplanade.
“So on John Finley Walk, which goes from 81st to 90e street, if you look around, there are literally holes in the ground everywhere, there are places where people can’t even use it anymore, ”Kallos said.
“A lot of the benches need to be replaced, the railings could require a lot more love, so the city is going to be doing $ 80 million renovations on the top section – something we’ve been waiting for since the 1970s. “
He noted that allocating money in the budget is the first part of the battle — the second part is to ensure that the money is spent.
Therefore, we asked when he thought labor could realistically start.
“The money was initially allocated in 2015. The city has already spent several million dollars on architects, engineers, understanding the feasibility, assessing the scope of the project — so that $ 80 million, I believe, is a announces that we are beyond the planning stage and hope to start tendering any day now, and it’s about six months, so I would say we should hopefully see the contracts awarded and work to begin in 2022, ”Kallos said.
While other parts of the Esplanade received funding, the John Finley Walk section was the missing piece.
“I stand alongside all kinds of amazing leaders who are here in our community. There are so many beautiful and wonderful things about New York City, especially our waterfront, but when we first started it was really, really shattered, and over the past 10 years we’ve brought so much more $ 500 million to restore it – public, private, city, state, federal government money – it’s been a common community… it takes a village to fix this waterfront, and today here we are celebrating an $ 80 million commitment, ”said Maloney.
Russel Squire, Chair of Community Board 8, added that the John Finley Walk is a fantastic resource for the community, beloved and widely used, but it has been in need of repair for some time.
“The fact that we now have $ 80 million to fix it, put it in the condition it needs, is a fantastic step in getting to where it needs to be and making sure it will be available. for people for many years to come, ”Squire said.
Tricia Shimamura, Senior Vice-Chair and Co-Chair of the Parks and Waterfront Committee of Community Council 8, plays an important role in the context of a changing climate.
“We know the Esplanade isn’t just a pretty park, we know it’s our first line of defense against rising storm water. This is what connects our communities, it has provided much needed and essential respite for members of our communities, both up and down the waterfront throughout COVID, and it is in desperate need of repairs, ” Shimamura said.
And members of Community Council 6 were in attendance, with Kevin O’Keefe, chair of the Environment and Parks Committee, saying the announced funding will help a contiguous trail for the East Siders.
“We just hope this is a wonderful sign that we are going to keep moving south, and as Rep. Maloney said, to really ring this island for cyclists, walkers and runners and for people. who just want to enjoy the green spaces – we need more open space in this wonderful borough, ”said O’Keefe.
We then interviewed on camera Jennifer Ratner of Friends of the East River Esplanade, who said she cheers whenever money is announced and allocated to the Esplanade. She’s hoping that some, if not all, of the $ 80 million will go to the underside and belly of John Finley Walk, as the infrastructure is almost 100 years old.
And she also noted that the East Harlem section of the Esplanade, which Maloney and Kallos announced in February for $ 284 million in repair and renovation funds, still needs more attention.
“We are here to celebrate because any money that goes to the waterfront and in this case to make it more secure and stable is a welcome fund. But I just want to remind everyone – don’t forget the East Harlem play, ”Ratner said.
“It’s in dire straits – yes, $ 284 million has been allocated this year, but we have to see every penny spent and more. We hope for a match from the Federal and / or State Government so that the entire waterfront in all of our neighborhoods [is contiguous] and maybe the gem it should be. Watch the video interview above with Ratner.
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