Volume 78 / Number 9 - July 30 - August 5, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since
1933

Villager photos by Elisabeth Robert

Above, Robert Balachandran stopped to smell the black-eyed Susans with his children, Isabelle, 4, and Rowan, 2, last Wednesday. Balachandran, the Hudson River Park Trust’s former president, returned to his former stomping ground for the opening of the park’s first Tribeca section.

They’ll be having some fun on Tribeca’s boardwalk

By Albert Amateau

The threatening rain held off and a crowd of more than 200 neighbors, park advocates and officials gathered on Wednesday morning to celebrate the opening of the first part of the Hudson River Park’s Tribeca section.

Stretching from Laight St. to Pier 40 near W. Houston St., the newest section of the park covers 4.6 acres and includes basketball courts with glass backboards, tennis courts and landscaped gardens and a sloping, meandering boardwalk that overlooks the river.

The $16.3 million section was funded as part of the $70 million grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, a federally funded state-city authority created to help Downtown recover from the World Trade Center attack. The L.M.D.C. money will also help fund the reconstruction of Pier 25 at N. Moore St. and Pier 26 at Hubert St., as well as the upland sections of the park south to Battery Park City, which are expected to open in the spring of 2010.

“Something this wonderful doesn’t happen without hundreds of people working together,” said Diana Taylor, chairperson of the Hudson River Park Trust, the state-city authority established 10 years ago to plan and build the 5-mile-long waterfront park.

With the opening of the Tribeca section on Wednesday the park is 50 percent complete and will be 80 percent complete by 2010, Taylor said.

She said the Trust has enough money to rebuild the Tribeca piers and needs about $9 million to $10 million next year from the state and city to build most of the piers’ amenities. This year, the Trust got $42 million from the state and city, enough for the Trust to finish most of the park’s Tribeca and Chelsea sections.

“It takes a bit of courage for elected officials to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to a park,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer recalled that he was a state Assemblymember 10 years ago when Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and Franz Leichter, then a state senator, proposed the Hudson River Park Act.

“You are the two heroes of the park,” Stringer said to Gottfried and Leichter, who were both at the celebration.

City Councilmember Alan Gerson recalled that he was chairperson of Community Board 2 in 1998 when park advocates were seeking the support of Community Boards 1, 2 and 4 for the Hudson River Park project.

“I was the chair of the holdout board and we had to call police at one meeting to calm things down,” Gerson said.

Taylor also recognized Tom Fox, who was president of the Hudson River Park Conservancy, the Trust’s predecessor, and Robert Balachandran, a former Trust president. Avi Schick, L.M.D.C. chairperson; Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber; and State Senator Martin Connor also attended.

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