Updated Jan. 5, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. A municipal tow yard at Manhattan’s Pier 76 should be added to the Hudson River Park Trust in 2020, clearing the way for further parkland and recreational development, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.
Hoping a transformation of the compound used by NYPD will complement other attractions in the area such as Javits Center and the High Line, Cuomo is calling on the trust to maximize the “green space, recreation, community access and market potential” of the 250,000 square foot tow pound.
As a proposal in his 2020 State of the State agenda, the space would be fully integrated into the park which the governor’s office referred to as a “long deferred transfer” promised 20 years ago.
“There is only a precious limited amount of green space left for community use, and we have to make sure we are protecting and preserving it on Pier 40 and Pier 76 and are carefully balancing the park’s financial needs with protection of green space,” Cuomo said. “The redevelopment of this valuable land will maximize underutilized green space and recreational and market potential with the possibility of connecting regional landmarks like Javits and the High Line.”
Pier 76 will be vacated at the end of the year, the governor’s office said, claiming that the state would assist the city in finding an alternative location for the tow pound.
The pier was originally within the scope of the Hudson River Park Act, passed by the legislature and signed by former Governor George Pataki in 1998. But the transfer of this land has been stalled; it’s now one of the last pieces gaps in accessible waterfront on the West Side of Manhattan, according to Cuomo’s administration.
The Hudson River Park Trust will now need to form a park-wide financial and use strategy and has until May 1 to request any legislative approval for certain actions it hopes to take, according to Cuomo.
The trust was not able to be reached for comment when amNewYork Metro reached out.
Cuomo vetoed on Dec. 31 a bill to authorize development of commercial offices at Pier 40, at West Houston Street along Hudson River Park. In his veto message, Cuomo wrote that “Pier 40 is a valuable asset to the surrounding community offering recreational space in an area of the city that is more and more congested…”
Cuomo noted the bill’s intention of providing more money for the park, and wrote, “Money is always the rationale to develop sites in Manhattan, hence the lack of open space, green areas, parks or recreation space.”
Cuomo added in his veto message, “The State and City fund the Hudson River Park and will fund it again this year… In the next session I will work on legislation that will ensure that the Park will finally have access to Pier 76, which will ensure Pier 40 reaches its full potential.”
A Hudson River Park Trust spokesperson said about the veto, “The importance of Pier 40 for Hudson River Park’s overall financial health and as a recreational resource cannot be overstated. We appreciate that the Governor is looking for a comprehensive solution for Pier 40 and the entire park.”
The office of State Senator Brian Kavanagh, the bill’s sponsor, did not respond to a request for comment about the veto.
Connie Fishman, Executive Director of the nonprofit Hudson River Park Friends, said in a statement about the veto, “Identifying a long-term Pier 40 solution is critically important for Hudson River Park and its millions of users. Friends has built a broad coalition of support over the past year through our Pier 40 For All campaign. We had hoped this would provide a starting point for Pier 40’s redevelopment, and we are optimistic about working with our State and local officials in 2020 to identify a solution that ensures that Pier 40 can remain a beloved community resource and one of the Park’s key financial anchors for years to come. We’ll continue to advocate strongly for the economic health of the entire park.”
On Jan. 5, State Senator Brad Hoylman, who co-sponsored the Pier 40 bill, said in a statement, “Hudson River Park serves as the backyard for the West Side of Manhattan, where public open space is in scarce supply. It’s no wonder, then, that the park attracts more than 17 million visits each year. I’m extremely grateful to Governor Cuomo for using his State of the State address to announce legislative proposals to reaffirm his commitment to new open space at Pier 76 and Pier 40 and look forward to working with Community Boards 4 and 2, my colleagues in government, and other local stakeholders to help fully realize the potential of the Hudson River Park.”