New York Post: Aging Esplanade’s East River Dive
By Heather Haddon
January 23, 2011
The East River Esplanade is more whack-way than walkway, with the seawall crumbling and massive holes threatening to swallow up pedestrians.
One section near 116th Street literally washed into the river years ago, with the sidewalk caving in and the river visible underfoot. The "protective" fence nearby is sagging with age and rust.
"We could fall right into the river and no one would know it," said Frances Mastrota, 74, an East Harlem resident who walks the three-mile-long esplanade daily.
Problems between 63rd and 125th streets include:
* Paving stones that suddenly slope into hills and valleys, or are missing altogether.
* Several massive sinkholes that have been expanding.
* Crumbling docks that have been abandoned and have no fencing along the river.
* Ancient benches that are cracking or entirely missing.
Local officials are deluged with complaints about the esplanade’s conditions, which is an eyesore compared to the luxurious waterfront greenway stretching along Manhattan’s western shore.
"People are very jealous of the west side," said Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, who receives dozens of complaints about the esplanade. "[Here] it’s literally falling into the East River."
The Parks Department and Department of Environmental Protection are using a $500,000 allocation from Lappin’s office to study what’s causing the esplanade’s decline. One possibility is sewer discharge from pipes running in the area, officials said.
At least six sites will be repaired along the walkway this year, Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner Bill Castro said.
"Parks is working to address the problems," Castro said.