NID will help protect a valuable community resource

BY A.J. PIETRANTONE | Re “Is NID really needed, and who asked for it anyway?” (talking point, by Eileen Stukane, Feb. 21):

The main priority of Friends of Hudson River Park and the Hudson River Park Neighborhood Improvement District Steering Committee is to find a means to help the park and its numerous challenges. The park is not generating enough revenue to support its operations; this reality requires us to think and act creatively to save this unique part of New York.

We and many other property owners believe that the neighborhood improvement district, or NID, is an element of the future success of Hudson River Park. Without any dedicated government resources to help finance the park’s operation, Friends of Hudson River Park has worked with the Hudson River Park Trust to identify new ways to bring additional resources needed to keep the park going. In addition to this work, many property owners, individual home owners, community groups, business associations and others have joined the NID Steering Committee because they value Hudson River Park and this effort to support it from within the community.

We do not expect or want our neighbors to bear the full burden of park maintenance and operations. The park is facing a crippling funding shortage. Our park is beautiful and, like any park built in the waterfront, is expensive to maintain. This is an ongoing conversation, but that cannot substitute the need to take action. The current funding challenges have already resulted in the closure of some park elements. In the end, we believe the NID is a practical solution that goes a long way toward meeting some urgent needs while not being the absolute panacea.

Our outreach included numerous presentations to committees of Community Boards 1, 2 and 4, meetings with community groups, block associations and property owners, as well as tabling in and around the park. We have made a concerted effort specifically to meet with residential properties owners throughout the district to explain the proposal and get their feedback. This feedback, both positive and negative, has been taken seriously and has shaped the plan as it currently stands. In addition, we have held seven large, advertised public meetings in a variety of neighborhoods in order to make the process open to all who want to make comments.

Our initial mailing was sent to all property owners in the district (close to 8,000). The second mailing was sent to every known address in the district (32,000 individuals). The media regularly covers the NID’s progress and more than 20 articles have already appeared in local and community press. We also ran a significant paid advertising campaign, including in The Villager, to further the outreach and communication efforts.

While the Park is certainly a popular destination for visitors, nearly 50 percent of park users, according to a recent survey, are in fact local residents. With community-focused elements, such as playing fields, dog runs, playgrounds and water activities, the park was designed and is operated to serve its neighbors — the H.R.P. NID will help to protect this neighborhood resource.

It is critical to understand that the NID is not just about the park; it is also about the neighborhood. The NID will address community residents’ concerns regarding safer and better connections with the park. To effectively do this, we must address conditions outside park boundaries. At this moment, the Hudson River Park Trust is barred by law from spending resources outside of its boundaries, which includes the bikeway, median and sidewalks along Route 9A that need to be improved and better maintained for both safety and aesthetic reasons.

The simple truth is, something must be done now and we must do it together for the future of Hudson River Park and the enhancement of our neighborhoods. For more information and to sign our petition please visit: www.HRPNID.org .

Pietrantone is executive director, Friends of Hudson River Park and a member, Hudson River Park NID Steering Committee. This talking point is submitted on behalf of the NID Steering Committee