Tribeca’s Hudson Park construction to begin this fall


By Ellen Keohane

Demolition of Piers 25 and 26 along the Tribeca segment of Hudson River Park could be begin this fall with reconstruction of Pier 25 starting in May, followed by Pier 26 next summer, Hudson River Park Trust president Connie Fishman said Monday.

Work on the Tribeca section of the park can finally move forward now that the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has granted the Hudson River Park Trust $70 million in post-9/11 funds for the project. However, it will probably take four to six months of paperwork before the Trust actually receives the money, Fishman said at a Community Board 1 Waterfront Committee meeting July 18. And the entire process may take more than three years, she said.

The $70 million will be able to fund most of the Trust’s plans for the Tribeca segment of the park, but Fishman said she was confident that they will be able to get whatever additional money that might be needed.

Some of that money could come from the Water Resources Development Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives on July 14. The proposed legislation, which still needs to be approved by the Senate, includes an authorization for $5 million in funding for the Hudson River Park.

It’s up to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Hudson River Park Trust to determine exactly what the money can be used for, said Reid Cherlin, press secretary for U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who pushed for the legislation. One possible use is a proposed bird sanctuary — “eco-pier” near Canal St. The sanctuary at the Pier 32 site would be visible from the land.

At Monday night’s committee meeting, Fishman and landscape architect Andrew Lavallee presented the newest version of the plan for the Tribeca segment of the park. Fishman called the new design “60 to 100 percent final.” It will involve rebuilding and extending Piers 25 and 26, which are currently deteriorating.

The Tribeca-based landscape architecture film, Mathews Nielson, took over the project from the Boston and San Francisco-based firm Sasaki Associates, Inc. For financial reasons, it makes more sense to work with a local firm, Fishman said.

“After living in Tribeca for 30 years and working on the master plan for the park from 1993-1997, it is a great pleasure to build a part of the park now,” Signe Nielsen, a principal of the Mathews Nielson firm, said in a telephone interview. Nielsen’s firm designed Duane Park in Tribeca as well as the landscaping adjacent to the Hudson River Park along Route 9A.

The design presented on Monday night included a few changes from what C.B. 1 committee members had seen before. More trees, for example, were added to the design based on public feedback requesting more shade, Fishman said.

The trapeze school and batting cages are not part of the new design. The trapeze school will have to move, as commercial venues are not allowed on the park’s premises, Fishman said. It may be relocated to Pier 40.

The Trust owns the batting cages, but Chris Martin, the Trust’s spokesperson, said he did not know of any plans to place them anywhere else in the park.

The cages are not well used and Mark Costello, vice president of the Downtown Little League, said although they do get some use by the league, they don’t open until the end of the season, they’re too expensive, and the pitches are too fast for many players.

Several Tribeca residents who attended the committee meeting expressed their collective concern that the “beloved” community feel of Pier 25 will be lost when it is rebuilt.

“There was always a desire to retain an informality and a spontaneity on Pier 25,” said Nielson in a phone interview following Monday’s meeting. “We’re going to take that very seriously and apply ourselves to achieve that. I plan to go there this weekend and just hang out and absorb it all.”

Pier 25 will retain many of its current amenities, including a playground, a mini golf course with nine holes and three practice tees, a snack bar and a landing for water taxis. The pier will also have an artificial turf, multipurpose playing field and three sand volleyball courts, said Lavallee, while pointing to a scale drawing of the current park design at Monday’s meeting.

The plans for Pier 26, in contrast, are still largely undetermined, said Fishman. The Trust is still waiting for the design of the marine life center, which needs to be moved further down the pier to allow for vessel access to the facility. A boathouse with a floating pier for kayaks will also be located on Pier 26. The River Project and the Downtown Boathouse, the pier’s current tenants, are likely candidates to return to the pier.

The Tribeca segment of the park will also include a basketball court, various seating areas, a skate park, a 65 by 120 foot dog run, a 1,200 square foot dance floor, a restaurant and tennis courts—which have already been built. A building at North Moore St. will house public restrooms as well as skate concession and maintenance facilities. There will also be a mooring field for boats south of Pier 25.

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