A controversial plan to build a futuristic park atop a pier in the Hudson River has cleared a key hurdle. Construction is now set to begin within months. NY1's Rocco Vertuccio has the story.
The Hudson River waterfront is getting a new public park that will be built over the water.
After some uncertainty, the Pier 55 project can now move forward. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given the project its final green light despite some opposition.
"We consider ourselves to be stewards of the Hudson River, we're educators of the Hudson River, and we always knew that this project would meet all regulatory criteria," said Madelyn Wils, the Hudson River Park Trust president and CEO.
There will be an almost three-acre park built on pilings in the water where the old Pier 54 was located near West 13th Street.
The Hudson River Park Trust, media mogul Barry Diller, and his partner — fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg — are expected to pay for most of the $160 million project. The city will put up $17 million.
The park is slated to include grassy hills, wooded walking paths, an open air stage, and a separate area for large events. Many of the arts, cultural, and educational events are expected to be free.
"I think that the Diller-von Fürstenberg foundation is doing a wonderful thing," one woman said. "I think we need more parks down here for people."
The project's approval is a defeat for the City Club of New York. The civic group sued to block the project because of the possible impact on fisheries and the bottom of the bay, and concerns that boaters will lose access to the water.
Earlier this month, a Manhattan judge dismissed the suit. Those who oppose it also say the project was pushed through will little public input.
"I would say there's a strong argument that money talks and that principles are secondary," said Rob Buchanan of the City Club of New York. "It's very concerning."
Opponents plan to appeal the judge's ruling and challenge the state's environmental permits and possibly the Army Corps of Engineers' permits.
Meanwhile, the trust plans to begin construction as early as the summer. It won't stop unless it receives a court order.