Last part of High Line needs Bloomberg’s okay


BY Albert Amateau

The City Council has voted unanimously to approve the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure for the north end of the High Line that wraps around the West Side Rail Yards.

The Council action on July 29 leaves only Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s approval for the city to begin to acquire the last segment of the elevated rail line from 30th to 34th Streets to complete the 1.5-mile park.

Friends of the High Line, the grass-roots organization that convinced Bloomberg in 2001 to convert the derelict railroad viaduct along 10th Avenue into an elevated city park, was jubilant.

Joshua David, a co-founder of the Friends, told the Council the approval is a step nearer the Friend’s vision of a public park, 30 feet above street level, from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District around the rail yards to 34th Street across from the Javits Convention Center.

Salmaan Khan, a Friends staff member, said, “This vote is a major milestone towards the full preservation and transformation of the High Line at the rail yard into a continuous open space. Once approved by the mayor it will allow the City of New York to move forward with the acquisition of the High Line above 30th Street, including the 10th Avenue spur.”

The line’s 10th Avenue spur extends east a half block on 30th Street between 11th and 10th Avenues to near where the line originally connected with the Morgan Annex Post Office, when the New York Central Railroad built the line more than 70 years ago.

CSX, the railroad that inherited the line, transferred the southern two thirds of the viaduct from Gansevoort to 20th Street and from 20th to 30th Streets to the city for a token $1 per segment in 2003. But the segment that loops around the rail yards and the spur to the east still belong to CSX. The city has indicated it would soon begin negotiations with CSX for the remaining segment, but as yet no funding or plans exist.

The conversion into a park of the Gansevoort to the 20th Street segment was completed last spring and has already welcomed more than two million visitors. The conversion of the 20th Street to 30th Street segment is underway and is expected to open in the spring of 2011.

Preservation of the remaining segment required the agreement by the Bloomberg Administration and the Metropolitan Transportation Administration, which owns the section of the West Side Rail Yards and Related Companies, the designated developer of the airspace above the rail yards. The approval of the West Chelsea and the Hudson Yards rezoning in 2005 paved the way for the full High Line Park.

David last week paid tribute to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the Mayor, the M.T.A. and Related Companies for their vision “to save this historic structure and transform it into a great public space to be treasured by generations to come.”

Edward Kirkland of Community Board 4’s Chelsea preservation and planning committee told those present at the July 29 Council meeting that C.B. 2 unanimously endorsed the inclusion of the third segment of the High Line. The loop from 10th Avenue runs between 30th and 34th Street along the West Side Highway across from Hudson River Park, Kirkland noted. He said the Hudson River Park Trust was discussing a proposed pedestrian bridge over the highway from the Hudson River Park walkway at 32nd Street to the High Line that would provide a two-mile walkway with striking views of the city and the river without a single cross street.