On Tuesday, the Republican candidate for governor, Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin, joined residents in Lower Manhattan who oppose a resiliency project, which they say will take away green space and parkland.
The members of an obscure state board, all appointed by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, approved the project Tuesday.
Wagner Park separates the residential area of Battery Park City from the harbor at Manhattan’s southern tip.
But under a $220 million coastal resiliency plan, this park would be torn down and completely rebuilt on higher ground.
What You Need To Know
Lee Zeldin joined residents in Lower Manhattan who oppose a resiliency project, which they say will take away green space and parkland
The members of an obscure state board, all appointed by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, approved the project Tuesday
Supporters say the project is necessary to hold back rising sea levels
Zeldin joined local residents who oppose the plan.
“This is something that should bring together every elected official. It should bring everyone together regardless of party. Regardless of whether you are a Democrat or Republican or independent,” Zeldin said.
Opponents say elevating the park would take approximately two years and result in more than a hundred mature trees being torn down.
Green space is at a premium in Lower Manhattan, and residents say there are better ways to keep the land from being swallowed by the sea, as oceans levels rise.
“We’ve worked with some of the most expert resiliency architects in the city who think this plan is unnecessary,” said Kelly McGowan of the Battery Park Neighborhood Association. “They have worked with us to create alternatives. And what we are asking for is for people to listen to those alternatives before it’s too late.”
But just as the press conference was taking place, the Battery Park City Authority was voting to move forward with the Wagner Park project.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the authority said “we’re looking forward to welcoming New Yorkers to a new and improved Wagner Park that provides much needed-protection from future storms and other weather events for the greater downtown community.”
The board consists of seven members, all of whom are appointed by the governor. In this case, Hochul has not appointed any new members. All are holdovers from her predecessor Cuomo, who resigned in scandal.
Residents say the board has very little public accountability.
Before leaving office last year, Cuomo tried to build a monument to honor essential workers in nearby Rockefeller Park, but it was defeated by the community who rejected it.
“Our neighborhood association was started last summer, just over a year ago when they tried to cut down 6 trees in Rockefeller Park and pave over that grass,” said Britni Erez of the Battery Park City Neighborhood Association. “We thought they learned their lesson. But apparently they did not learn their lesson, so here we are against today.”
A bill in Albany passed both the state Senate and Assembly this past year that would change the makeup of the Battery Park City Authority, expanding it from seven to nine members, and require that a majority of those members live in the community of Battery Park City.
There is no word on whether Hochul will sign that bill, but she has until the end of the year to do so.
.@leezeldin joins residents in Battery Park who oppose what they say is an unnecessarily disruptive resiliency project in Wagner Park. @bpca_ny is voting on the plan now. The Authority has 7 members appointed by the Governor. All are holdovers from Andrew Cuomo. pic.twitter.com/qdHk9MqRFS— Zack Fink (@ZackFinkNews) October 11, 2022