City is on track to acquire the last leg of High Line

By Albert Amateau

The city this week moved to take ownership of the northern third of the High Line, the segment that loops around the West Side Rail Yards between 30th and 34th Sts.

City Planning Director Amanda Burden said on Monday that the department would initiate the public-review process that must precede the city acquiring the northern part of the High Line that has remained the property of the CSX railroad.

The move is a critical step by the Bloomberg administration to preserving the entire length of what remains of the elevated rail line.

The Friends of the High Line, the community-based group that has become a partner with the city in transforming the unused line into an elevated park, has been advocating for full preservation of the line from Gansevoort St. to 34th St., including the loop around the rail yards and the 10th Ave. spur that extends east to the Farley Post Office.

“This decision by the Department of City Planning is the single most important piece of good news we’ve heard about the High Line at the rail yards,” said Robert Hammond, co-founder of the group that successfully lobbied to convert the line into a park.

The southern third of the High Line, between Gansevoort and 20th Sts., opened as a park earlier this year, and work is underway to convert the elevated rail line between 20th and 30th Sts. into a park. The city acquired the southern two-thirds of the line from CSX in 2005 for a token payment after a lengthy review, but it is not certain whether the northern third will go to the city for a nominal payment.

Friends of the High Line has been working with the Bloomberg administration, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority — which owns the rail yards — and the Empire State Development Corporation, the state agency that controls the underlying land south of the rail yards, as well as The Related Companies, the designated redeveloper of the rail yards.