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Environmental Review Begins for Con Ed Site

con edison site east river

When considered together, proposed East River developments at the former Con Ed Waterside Power Station site, the planned new construction by the United Nations, and the reconstruction of the FDR Drive present the city with an unprecedented opportunity to reinvent the Far East Side. The city could feasibly get a great new public waterfront park, access to the water, reasonably scaled new housing, and a revitalized First Avenue.

But the recent filing of a proposal by a developer for the former Con Ed site to the Department of City Planning indicates that the coordination required to make these things happen among the key decision-makers is not happening. Instead of coordination, the developer’s plans are proceeding in isolation, and it appears that demolition of the historic resources at Con Ed site has begun.

con ed aerial illustration

The city’s environmental review process for the site will begin on March 28 with a public hearing to explore what should be studied in the environmental impact review of the project. It is important to tell the City Planning Commission now to examine a full range of alternatives to realize the full potential of this section of East River waterfront. The hearing will take place at the Schottenstein Cultural Center, 239 E. 34th Street.

The need for a coordinated, community-based planning process for the East Side of Manhattan was the subject of a town hall meeting on February 22, hosted by State Senator Liz Krueger, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, City Council Member Dan Garodnick, U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney and other elected officials.

The officials discussed the critical need to incorporate a genuinely public open space, a school and affordable housing into the site plan, and were unanimous in their praise of Community Board 6’s alternative 197-c plan for the site, which calls for reasonable height limits, public streets providing access to the waterfront, and a public park on top of the FDR Drive.

These ideas contrasted with the developer’s plans for the site. They include six towers ranging from 525 feet to 875 feet and a proposed “public” park that will not be welcoming to the public.

The MAS joins the elected officials in urging the public to attend the public hearing on March 28 and to demand that the city lead a coordinated planning process that will balance the community’s goals with the developer’s aspirations, and produce a new waterfront park over the FDR and access to the water.

Council Member Garodnick has created a petition calling for sensible planning on this site. He will send it to Mayor Bloomberg and Planning Commission Chairwoman Amanda Burden.