PROGRESS REPORT: It takes a Village: Saving Pier 40 took teamwork

Police Commissioner Bratton said Corey Johnson, above, and police have “two different stories” of the incident. File photo
Corey Johnson at the dediction of the NYC AIDS Memorial on World AIDS Day. Photo by Tequila Minsky
Corey Johnson at the dediction of the NYC AIDS Memorial on World AIDS Day. Photo by Tequila Minsky

BY COREY JOHNSON | The culmination of years-long efforts to save Pier 40 was, to me, the most profound local community victory of the past year. Beyond the many practical benefits of this project, it represents the breadth of what can be accomplished when government and local communities work closely together to accomplish big things.

Going into this process — which involved the St. John’s Partners development and the massive W. Houston St. pier across the West Side Highway from it — we faced some serious, complicated challenges. Pier 40, a vital community resource with athletic fields used by thousands of children and adults every year and a parking garage that generates about one-third of Hudson River Park’s funding, is in danger of literally falling into the Hudson River if its deteriorating pilings are not repaired. Previous attempts to secure the $100 million needed for these repairs were unsuccessful.

Through a robust and transparent public process that included local activists, Community Board 2, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, Borough President Gale Brewer, state Senators Dan Squadron and Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and myself, we reached an outstanding deal that saved Pier 40 and generated several other important “wins” for the community.

The process involved many public meetings. Concerned parents, neighbors and community stakeholders of all kinds came out to voice their opinions, their worries, hopes and goals.

Because of your involvement, it was always apparent to me what the community wanted to gain out of this process. You made your vision crystal clear, and you produced a roadmap by which we could achieve a number of important community victories.

We didn’t stop at saving Pier 40. In the midst of an unprecedented affordable housing crisis throughout our city, we ensured that the St. John’s project would bring nearly 500 units of affordable and senior housing to the West Village.

We secured a new 15,000-square-foot publicly accessible indoor recreational center at 550 Washington St., as well as a much-needed supermarket.

We finally ensured the designation of the Sullivan-Thompson Historic District in the South Village. And we barred future air-rights transfers from Pier 40 into C.B. 2. We also secured a $1.5 million commitment by the Department of Transportation to study traffic and transportation problems in Hudson Square.

You can contact my district office at 212-564-7757 or by e-mail at district3@council.nyc.gov. Visit my Web site at www.coreyjohnson.nyc for real-time updates from my office.

Johnson is city councilmember, Third District, covering the West Village, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Flatiron and part of Upper West Side.