We’ve still got work to do in B.P.C.


By James F. Gill

A great deal is happening at the Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority, and I am once again pleased to provide residents of Lower Manhattan with a look at what lies ahead and projects nearing completion.

As Battery Park City approaches the point of being completely built out, and the realization of our original blueprint, we have gotten many questions about what our future is, what comes next, and what the authority will do? In short, Battery Park City Authority is not going anywhere anytime soon. Indeed, our mission is not only to build, but to manage and maintain, and that is precisely what we intend to do. There is still much work to be done, and many exciting projects on the horizon.

As you know, Battery Park City has debated and studied the use of artificial turf on our ball fields. Given the authority’s commitment to sustainable development and our roster of award-winning parks, the decision to use any artificial surface is not one we arrived at easily. However, we are also committed to our residents having year-round access to the fields, and that would not be possible with natural grass.

The huge shadow cast over the ball fields by the Goldman Sachs building, plus the wear and tear the lawn takes on a regular basis, makes growing grass unrealistic. It is for this reason we will use artificial turf. However, I assure you that the artificial turf we choose, will be state of the art in terms of health and safety. We have engaged a consultant to guide us in our search and a decision will be made in the near future.

The installation of artificial turf will have to await completion of the residential buildings and community center currently under construction on Sites 23 and 24. The community center, which will contain two swimming pools, a gymnasium, a fitness center and an all-purpose room, will be completed by 2011.

One way we plan to use our ball fields on a year-round basis is by turning them into an ice skating rink this winter. We have entered into a contract with a business that provides ice skating services. We are hopeful the rink opening will be Dec. 1st — we’ll provide the hot chocolate if you provide the figure 8s.

Battery Park City also continues to fulfill its commitment to making our community a bastion of cultural institutions and public art. Poets House, which is housed at the Riverhouse, opened this past September and a branch of the New York City Public Library is in the process of being “fitted out” and will be operational before the end of this year.

Teardrop Park South will be ready to welcome visitors next month and will be a fine compliment to the award winning Teardrop Park North. One third of our 92 acres have been set aside for parks and gardens, which are maintained naturally and without the use of pesticides and chemicals. We are committed to maintaining that ratio well into the future.

Starting in the spring of 2010, our rigorous environmental standards will be enhanced by the installation of communications access nodes, bringing free wireless service to Wagner Park, Kowsky Plaza, Teardrop Park and Rockefeller Park.

Battery Park City will continue to be in the forefront of the sustainable development movement, and though we are almost built out, we are now in the process of retrofitting existing older buildings in Battery Park City so that they too are covered by our green guidelines.

Green too will be our redevelopment of Pier A which is located at the southern tip of our property. We entered into a lease agreement with New York City to rehabilitate and develop Pier A. Upon completion, the pier will be Silver LEED certified, and after it is rented it will be a boon to the authority, Lower Manhattan, and the city. I think you would agree, this landmark has sat dormant and in disrepair for far too long.

Welcoming students in the fall of 2010, will be New York City’s first green public school, catering to Lower Manhattan’s kindergarten through 8th grade children. This state-of-the-art elementary and middle school will be a welcome addition to an underserved community.

Hugh L. Battery Park City Authority is not done. As you can tell from the above menu of projects, we are continuing to find impressive ways to improve Battery Park City.

James F. Gill is chairperson of the Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority.