Volume 76, Number 4 | June 14 - 20 2006

Editorial

Time for Basketball City to stop playing games with Pier 63

Like a scrappy basketball team that never says die, Basketball City is refusing to throw in the towel at Pier 63 in the Hudson River Park. Yet, it’s clear that the game is over and that Basketball City must vacate the Chelsea pier so that a long-awaited, open, free public park can be built there.

Ever since signing a master lease for Pier 63, Basketball City has known it would eventually have to leave the 23rd St. pier. But it’s now a year and a half after its lease’s expiration, and this sports operation is still stubbornly trying to keep its foothold in the park.

No one is saying Basketball City doesn’t do an admirable job providing court time for 16 public school basketball teams from the south half of Manhattan that would otherwise lack space to practice and play their games. Yet, these young players should not be used as pawns in Basketball City’s effort to remain in the park on a pier designated for free — not commercial — use.

Yes, the city must now step in and provide a place for these teams to play, so that these youngsters can continue to develop themselves and engage in healthy and fulfilling sports activities.

But Basketball City must get off the pier. The stay blocking the Hudson River Park Trust’s eviction order against Basketball City should be lifted A.S.A.P.

It’s simply arrogant and inconsiderate for Bruce Radler, head of Basketball City, to keep fighting his ouster. The city has agreed to move its Mounted Unit off Pier 63 to Pier 76 shortly. But in order to speed up construction of the park at Pier 63, the city wants Basketball City off first.

At this point, there are no more excuses left for Basketball City. The Trust has the money ready to build a park at Pier 63. The Police Department has agreed the Mounted Unit will vacate the pier. The city has assured Radler it’s doing all it can to help him establish a Lower East Side Basketball City at Pier 36. Yet, Radler is now asking that the Trust let him move his operation to Pier 40. According to the Trust, though, under the Hudson River Park Act, it would have to issue an open request for proposals for this. And, realistically, would the Trust feel comfortable working with Radler again after his repeated failure to deal with them in good faith?

Community members, park advocates and local elected officials worked painstakingly over years to craft a Hudson River Park master plan. Each pier, each upland park section was given careful attention to determine its best uses. Pier 63 was planned as an open pier, with views to the water. The tall bubble that houses Basketball City is supposed to come down. And it will come down.

If Basketball City doesn’t throw in the towel, then the court must expeditiously move to lift the stay on the eviction. This game should have ended long ago.

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