The First Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Gische, determined the planned reconstruction of the East River Park along the waterfront of the lower east side of Manhattan did not require approval by the state legislature pursuant to the public trust doctrine, even though the project benefitted the park and other community objectives (protection against neighborhood flooding):
Petitioners contend that the principal purpose of the project is construction of a coastal shore floodwall to safeguard the residential developments nearby. They argue that the conclusion of a nonpark purpose is warranted because the work proposed is disproportionate to the work required to preserve the Park. There is no dispute that the project will greatly benefit the nearby communities from the risk of coastal flooding. At its core, however, petitioners’ argument is that any project that serves a park purpose cannot serve a dual purpose. Stated differently, that a park purpose is served only if that is the sole objective of a particular project. This is too narrow a reading of the park purpose requirement.
A project that benefits a park as well as other community objectives can still be considered to serve a park purpose under the public trust doctrine. * * * … [E]ven though a coastal flooding protection project will provide communities adjacent to the Park with flood protection, it will also protect the Park from coastal flooding.
Once it is determined that there is a park purpose, the salutary goal of preventing the alienation of parkland is satisfied. Matter of East Riv. Park Action v City of New York, 2021 NY Slip Op 06652, First Dept 11-30-21