Altman: FDR pedestrian bridge is a matter of life and death!

Altman memo 9-3-2015 (1)

East River board president Gary Altman thinks a redesigned pedestrian bridge across the FDR Drive would imperil the lives of cooperators, and he wants you to know that he’s burning through his City Hall rolodex to kill the bridge before it kills you.

In a 1000-word essay to cooperators distributed yesterday, Altman says the concepts presented by the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project this summer — including improved access to East River Park from Grand Street — would bring high-speed bicyclists directly into the path of unsuspecting cooperators and block first responders from reaching building 4 in an emergency.

His fears are unwarranted. The proposed approach to Grand Street included stairs to make sure bicyclists use a safer route. And the idea that every inch of the FDR service road is needed for an ambulance to reach building 4 is just silly.

More to the point, the designs presented in July were concepts intended to evoke constructive reactions and criticism from residents. The conversation about the Delancey crossing included ample suggestions about safety, which project planners were eager to hear and incorporate into future plans.

The designers working on protecting our homes from another storm surge are intent on enhancing our relationship to the waterfront at the same time. They are searching deeply for creative solutions to that challenge, and we should be open to finding one with them.

Altman did not attend the ESCRP presentation in July when the concept designs for four FDR Drive pedestrian crossings were shared with interested LES residents, so his mistaken impression of these design options is excusable — but his overreaction to them is not. Why stoke fear among East River’s elderly cooperators? Why issue a Just-Say-No edict to his friends in city government while a productive design process is underway?

The concepts presented this summer were well-intentioned, thought-provoking, and imperfect. Project planners deserve to know the full range of opinion from cooperators — not just Altman’s. Come to next Thursday’s workshop to see the designs for yourself and help shape this important neighborhood project:

Thursday, September 10, 2015
Henry Street Settlement
301 Henry Street
Doors open at 6:30
Presentation begins at 7:00