Volume 75, Number 10 | July 27 - Aug. 2, 2005

Villager photo by Scot Surbeck

Beach volleyballers will have to leave Pier 25 this fall so that the pier — to include a new court — can be rebuilt over the next three years.

Park work will get rolling on the river in Tribeca

By Ellen Keohane

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

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 rebuilding 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 the Community Board 1 Waterfront Committee meeting on July 18. And the entire process may take more than three years, she said.

The $70 million will fund most of the Trust’s plans for the Tribeca segment, but Fishman said she was confident they will be able to get whatever additional money 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 Trust to determine exactly what the money can be used for, said Reid Cherlin, press secretary for Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, who pushed for the WARDA allocation for the park. One possible use is a proposed bird sanctuary “eco pier” at Pier 32 near Canal St., which would be visible from the land.

At the committee meeting, Fishman and landscape architect Andrew Lavallee presented the latest 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.

Tribeca-based landscape architecture firm 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 to 1997, it is a great pleasure to build a part of the park now,” Signe Nielsen, a principal of Mathews Nielson, 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 West St.

The design presented 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, since commercial venues are not allowed in this part of the park, Fishman said. It may be relocated up to Pier 40 at Houston St., half of which is designated for commercial use under the Hudson River Park Act.

The Trust owns the batting cages. Christopher Martin, the Trust’s spokesperson, said they will likely move them to Pier 40.

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 the 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 minigolf 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 the 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-foot-by-120-foot dog run, a 1,200-square-foot dance floor, a restaurant and tennis courts — the latter which have already been built just north of Canal St. A building at North Moore St. will house public restrooms as well as a skate concession and maintenance facilities. There will also be a mooring field for boats south of Pier 25.

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