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November 14, 2013- Governor Cuomo finally signed A8031. The Villager reports, “On the same day that around 200 Lower West Side residents gathered to discuss their fears about a bill that would allow the transfer and sale of Hudson River Park’s air rights, Governor Andrew Cuomo finally signed the bill into law. Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, had just finished his introductory speech at Wednesday’s meeting, around 7 p.m., when word came that Cuomo had signed the bill. (It was The Villager that alerted Berman by e-mail after having been informed by a spokesperson for the Hudson River Park Trust that the governor had approved the bill. Assemblymember Richard Gottfried also confirmed to The Villager that the governor had O.K.’d the bill.)”
October 1, 2013– By Steven E. Greer, MD
The video of the September 26th meeting of the HRPT board is now posted online. The most important news from the meeting was the complete lack of discussion of state bill A8031 that will modify the HRPT act, and allow the sale of air rights over Pier 40 to raise cash for infrastructure repairs. As BatteryPark.TV previously reported, the governor is not signing the bill, for unknown reasons.
Pier 26 was the major construction project topic of the meeting. First, a lay-by will be constructed on the west side of Route 9a (Westside Highway), at North Moore Street, to allow for food deliver trucks, taxi cabs, etc, required for the new restaurant at Pier 26. An RFP was selected to do the job for $874,000.
The Pier 26 restaurant still does not yet have an official restaurateur to operate it. The HRPT’s CEO, Madelyn Wils, explained that six RFP’s have been collected are being reviewed. BatteryPark.TV has previously reported that the entire restaurant construction, so far, defies previous CB1 resolutions and is likely illegally under existing HRPT laws. If the HRPT amendment is not signed by the governor, then the future of the restaurant is very much uncertain.
The Pier 26 boathouse (46:00 mark of the video) will be determined by an RFP process. All four boathouses within the HRPT are being put up for contract via RFP’s, placing the fate of the existing managers of the Pier 40 kayaks and boats in jeopardy.
The Pier 26 estuarium is dead in the water, as of now. RFP’s have not even been issued.
The noisy rock and pop music concerts held on Pier 26 (46:00 mark of the video) were touted by Ms. Wils as a smashing success, bringing in 50,000 ticket-holding concertgoers. She claimed that the noise problem was resolved by engineering changes, which is simply untrue. She made no mention of her promise to no longer host such concerts. Overall, events throughout the HRPT drew 200,000 spectators, the most ever, according to Ms. Wils (although she admitted to having only a two-year institutional memory).
The recently opened dog run by Pier 26 was discussed. Rep. Nadler was given the credit for it by appropriating $5 Million in transportation funds, which even Ms. Wils admitted was a confusing source of funds (43:00 mark of the video).
Pier 40 was briefly discussed. For the ADA act, elevators are required. They will be asking FEMA to pay for the repairs to the tune of more than $187,000. The steel stairs of Pier 40 are also being fixed. The ballfields were not discussed in detail.
BatteryPark.TV previously reported on hotspots of crime within the HRPT strip of parks created by poor PEP officer patrolling and lack of lighting north of Pier 40. Ms. Wils addressed that (25:00 mark of the video), mentioning that a 2008 plan to provide temporary lighting is now finally being enacted. The contract will cost “no more than” $1580,000. This development was clearly caused by our reporting.
Regarding the overall cost of repairs related to Hurricane Sandy damage in 2012, the estimate is now closer to $30 Million (11:00 mark of the video), which surprised some board members at the large increase. Ms. Wils expect that 95% of that will be paid by FEMA (thus the lack of concern from the HRPT over the cost increases).
Other topics covered included: a new “design committee” to govern new projects, like the stalled Pier 26, the West Side Highway media landscaping will be contracted and paid for now, a new “ethics code” for the board was agreed upon, and the “Friends” fundraising committee formed sub-committee to help brand the HRPT name with better marketing.
$5 million for a dog run! Is it paved with gold?
The arrogance of HRPT is astonishing. It barrels ahead with a hodge podge of plans in hopes that they will become faits accomplis, despite having dubious or uncertain authority to impose them. How much money have they and Friends of HRPT wasted on these failed efforts? Will the construction of the lay-by be contingent on establishing the legality of the restaurant and finding an operator or will this be another $874,000 down the hole?
When the estuary and boathouse were moved, the community was told they would return. Why the change? And landscaping the highway median is the last thing it should be investing in at this point.