East Side Coastal Resiliency Project: Asser Levy Playground Reopens

The new floodgate next to Asser Levy Playground. Image Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

The playground and basketball courts feature resilient materials and play equipment designed to withstand inclement weather. On July 18, 2022, the first part of the $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency project was completed. The East Side Coastal Resiliency project was designed to increase the resiliency and sustainability of the infrastructure along the east side coast of Manhattan to battle rising sea levels and more frequent coastal storms due to climate changes. For CityLand’s prior coverage on the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, click here.

A 2.4 mile flood barrier consisting of berms, raised parkland, movable floodgates, flood walls, an improved underground interior drainage system, comfort stations with green roofs, permeable pavers under the Williamsburg Bridge, electric vehicle charging stations, and LED light poles at Stuyvesant Cove Park, will be created to promote resiliency and sustainability in the area.

The East Side Coastal Resiliency project is designed based on the New York City Panel on Climate Change’s future climate change projections and is capable of withstanding the 100-year storm anticipated in the 2050’s. The East Side Coastal Resiliency project can also accommodate an additional two feet of elevation throughout the project area if necessary.

The East Side Coastal Resiliency project is divided into three main Project Areas: Project Area 1, Project Area 2, and Parallel Conveyance. Project Area 1, encompassing work between Montgomery St. and East 15th St., including the East River Park, is set to be completed towards the end of year 2026. The Asser Levy Playground that was reopened is Phase 1 of four phases of Project Area 2, which encompasses work between East 15th St. and East 25th St. Project Area 2 is set to be completed towards the end of year 2024. Parallel Conveyance deals with creating an improved drainage system on local streets between Montgomery St. and East 23rd St. Click here for visuals on the three Project areas.

The Asser Levy Playground was the first of five parks completed in the East Side Coastal Resiliency project and was officially opened to the public on May 13, 2022. The Asser Levy Playground now features 320 feet of new flood walls accompanied by a 79-foot-long, 45-ton sliding steel flood gate. The flood gate will close ahead of impending floods while the flood walls will protect the areas behind them including the Margaret Cochran Corbin VA Campus and Hospital and the park’s recreation center and outdoor pool.

The Asser Levy Playground also features new playground and basketball courts rebuilt with resilient materials and play equipment designed to withstand inclement weather like heavy rainstorms and prevent flooding. With all the upgrades in infrastructure in this park, the reopening of the park after parks will hopefully be quicker and smoother.

Kizzy Charles-Guzman, executive director, Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice stated, “The new Asser Levy Playground has been rebuilt as infrastructure to protect the community it serves from storm surge and sea level rise, and is an example of our work to ensure New Yorkers can live, learn, work, and play in safe, healthy, resilient, and sustainable environments, even as the climate changes.”

The four other parks in the area: East River Park, Corlears Hook Park, Murphy Brothers Playground, Stuyvesant Cove Park, are also being upgraded with resilient materials and play equipment to withstand flooding and inclement weather. New and upgraded amenities will also be included including: public bathrooms, an amphitheater, a comfort station near Murphy Brothers Playground, and a flyover bridge for bikers and pedestrians to better access the East River Park through the critical part of the Greenway.

East River Park will be elevated about eight feet from the ground with upgraded recreational facilities, new passive-use areas, and about 2,000 additional trees including 50 different species with innate abilities to withstand salt spray and extreme weather.

On June 22, 2022, the Asser Levy Playground hosted a ceremony for students whose artworks were selected for display throughout the East Side Coastal Resiliency project area highlighting the importance of coastal protection and resiliency.

The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation has also contributed to the East Side Coastal Resiliency project by upgrading and making countless improvements to local parks and open spaces. While the East Side Coastal Resiliency project is underway, New Yorkers and visitors can visit the NYC Parks’ webpage to find nearby parks and open spaces to relax and have fun.

Mayor Eric Adams stated, “The East Side Coastal Resiliency project is more than infrastructure; it’s how we will protect our city from rising seas and stronger storms. This one project will create good jobs, put cutting edge technology and engineering into action, and, most importantly, protect more than 100,000 New York City residents from extreme weather.”

Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Thomas Foley stated, “One of the nation’s largest resiliency projects doesn’t just prevent flooding, East Side Coastal Resiliency also enhances open spaces and recreational spaces for more than 110,000 residents.”

Bruce Tucker, interim medical center director, VA New York Harbor Healthcare System stated, “By protecting our facility and the surrounding neighborhood from climate-related events, the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project will help us continue to deliver world-class health care to New York’s Veterans.”

For those interested in a deeper understanding of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project including construction progress, resiliency and flood protection, project background, goals, and elements, project design, parks neighborhood recreational resources, and more, click here.

Manhattan Community Board 6 Chair Kyle Athayde stated, “Asser Levy Playground has undergone many changes in the last decade. [A]s a district that suffers from a shortage of open space, the reopening of this playground means that residents of Manhattan Community District 6 have badly needed open space once again available to us!”

By: Malka Amar (Malka is a CityLaw intern and New York Law School student, Class of 2023.)

Mayor: “Mayor Adams Announces First Section of East Side Coastal Resiliency Project Completed as Asser Levy Playground Reopens with New Floodwall and Resilient Play Areas” (July 18, 2022).



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