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Volume 77, Number 25 | November 21 - 27 2007

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Pier 40 ideas floated at meeting

By Patrick Hedlund

A school. A grocery store. Art galleries. An ice-skating rink.

These are a few of the most appropriate uses for Pier 40, according to local residents and elected officials who floated ideas for the future of the waterfront space at a brainstorming session this week.

A group of about 50 representatives drawn from member organizations represented on the Pier 40 Working Group and local block associations located within a three-block radius of the pier shared similar hopes for the contested site at the Monday night meeting at 75 Morton St.

While their ideas ranged from the contentious (trade-show space, a small movie theater) to the organic (a greenmarket) and the water-oriented (mooring fields), all agreed that Pier 40 must remain dedicated to serving the immediate neighborhood — and not become a destination draw, as in The Related Companies current entertainment-based proposal for the site.

The event, moderated by Bethany Jankunis, Assemblymember Deborah Glick’s chief of staff, drew a chorus of voices in favor of amenities like long-term parking, recreational space and small-scale commercial tenants.

Attendees concurred that while the pier’s uses should have a low impact on the surrounding neighborhoods, they should also provide for enough activity to generate reasonable revenue for the Hudson River Park. Ideas along these lines included smaller restaurants and cafes, trade-show space, sports facilities and gyms, meeting and convention space and a marina for private boats, among others.

“There has to be some sort of profit mechanism,” said Brad Hoylman, Community Board 2 chairperson, suggesting smaller options “that complement the waterfront.”

Enhancing the pier’s tie to the water has been a desire of the Working Group since it made recommendations in June for the site’s development. In accordance with these and other recommendations — including indoor athletic fields, outdoor recreation space, a playground, a dog run, arts and cultural space and parking space — the group also wants to mitigate increased traffic and provide more connectivity between the pier and mainland.

“There’s just a better way” than the Related plan, said Richard Barrett of Canal West Coalition.

The Pier 40 Partnership’s Rich Caccappolo said his organization’s aim is to protect the pier from “intensive uses,” such as the large, tourist-geared entertainment venues proposed by Related.

But the Partnership needs to prove to the Hudson River Park Trust, which will ultimately determine the pier’s fate, that its vision for the location can bear fruit while still pleasing the community.

“If we can convince them that we are seeking to be facilitators and not deciders…we can give the Trust the confidence to move forward,” Caccappolo said.

Marc Ameruso, head of the Hudson River Park Advisory Council, said the decision would ultimately be based on how well development ideas can meet a simple request: “Show me the money.”

The Trust has given the Partnership until Dec. 15 to come up with an alternative to the Related plan, with a vote by the Trust scheduled on the Related plan for January.

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