MANHATTAN — East Side residents have long been complaining about how much less appealing their waterfront is compared to the pristine piers and bike paths on the West Side.
Besides the sinkhole-laden stretch of waterfront along the East River from East 60th to 125th streets, the chunk between East 38th to 59th streets isn't even open to the public.
That mile-long gap might finally be completed if a complicated deal involving the United Nations building an office tower on parkland works out along with other serious financial, engineering and security issues.
The area's elected officials — state Sen. Liz Krueger, state Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and City Councilman Dan Garodnick — are calling on residents to provide input in a series of public forums in August and September on the negotiations, which they announced Thursday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo passed a law that would allow the UN to build an office tower on Robert Moses Playground on First Avenue between 41st and 42nd streets in exchange for a major park and improving open space along the East River.
The deal would also involve selling two city-owned buildings near the UN — where tenants pay below market rate — to help fund the esplanade improvements.
But the deal can only move forward if — by Oct. 10 — an agreement is reached to replace the lost parkland, create greater access to the East River and develop waterfront amenities in the area.
The deal could include filling in the entire gap of the greenway and converting Asser Levy Place from 23rd to 25th streets from a street to a park. The legislation also calls for turning a former Con Edison parking lot pier between East 38th and East 41st Streets into a public space.
The three elected officials also launched interactive website to provide information and to receive feedback on the plan to create more parkland and build a greenway — which residents have been wanting for decades.
"Over the next twelve weeks, we have an opportunity to negotiate a framework that would help achieve all these objectives, if the city and the U.N. are prepared to meet us halfway," Kavanagh said in a statement.
"We're working on a tight time frame, but we'll be making every effort to ensure that people are aware of what's being proposed and have opportunities to have input and raise questions."
INFORMATION ABOUT THE FORUMS:
- Thursday, Aug. 4, 4 - 7 p.m., NYU Langone Medical Center, 550 First Avenue (enter at First Avenue at 31st Street)
- Thursday, Sept. 8, 4 – 7 p.m., Sutton Place Synagogue, 225 East 51st St. (between Second and Third Avenues)
- Tuesday, Sept. 20, 5 – 8 p.m., NYU Langone Medical Center, 550 First Avenue (enter at First Avenue at 31st Street)