Villager photos by Albert Amateau
Diana Taylor, the Hudson River Park Trust board chairperson, third from left, enjoyed a trial carousel ride in the park’s newly opened Chelsea section on May 17. The carousel will officially open on Memorial Day. RIGHT: A new skatepark in the Hudson River Park’s Chelsea section has skateboarders climbing the walls.
Carousel, skatepark make a splash on the waterfront
By Albert Amateau
The newest section of Hudson River Park, on the Chelsea waterfront at Piers 62 and 63, opened Mon., May 17, to throngs of visitors and public officials.
Officials, including Governor David Paterson and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, paid tribute to the local groups who over the years aggressively advocated for the 5-mile-long riverfront park being built by the Hudson River Park Trust, a state-city authority.
Members of Friends of Hudson River Park, the advocacy group organized in 1998 right after the state legislation that created the park, were on hand to put money on the line. A.J. Pietrantone, executive director of Friends, presented a $25,500 check — oversized for photo purposes — that will provide a year’s maintenance for the garden in the park’s newly opened Chelsea section.
Despite his political problems in Albany, Paterson was enthusiastic about Hudson River Park. And Trust board members and park advocates praised the governor for supporting the park in the present tough fiscal climate, especially for the $21 million in state funding two years ago for new construction in the park.
However, at a press conference just after the Chelsea opening, Paterson said it was “painful” that the state’s fiscal crisis this year has forced him to close down 41 other parks and 14 cultural groups and reduce state funding to other parks.
Nevertheless, visitors joined officials in praise of the park’s new section. The carousel on Pier 62, newly built with 36 creatures real and imaginary for children and adults to ride, charmed the visitors. At the opening, adults outnumbered children on a trial ride before the official carousel opening on Memorial Day.
The Pier 62 skatepark, built by California Skateparks/Site Design Group, attracted skateboarders with awesome skills and an awestruck audience to watch them.
The Lynden Miller-designed garden was ablaze with color in a cluster of raised planting areas. Stonefield, a group of large and variously shaped stones from New York State and northern Pennsylvania quarries, was another impressive feature.
Connie Fishman, president of the Trust, along with Diana Taylor, chairperson of the Trust board, and fellow board member Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber also spoke, as did Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said they were overjoyed with the glory of the additional 9 acres of the park, located just north of the Chelsea Piers Sports and Entertainment complex.
Lieber and Benepe affirmed the commitment of Mayor Bloomberg, who could not attend the opening, to the Hudson River Park.
“This park is beyond my wildest dreams,” said Quinn, a sentiment echoed by everyone at the event that took place under sunny skies. She praised the Chelsea Waterside Park Association and its founder, Robert Trentlyon, for envisioning the park more than a decade before it was organized.
Duane recalled that he was the second president of the Chelsea Waterside Park Association in the 1980s.
“I just did what Bob [Trentlyon] and Doris [Corrigan, co-founder of the group] told me to do,” Duane quipped.
Gottfried, who is celebrating his 40th year in the Assembly, recalled the long process that led to the 1998 Hudson River Park Act legislation that he co-authored with then-state Senator Franz Leichter, who also attended the opening.
“This park shows what can be accomplished when partisanship is put aside,” said Stringer, who recalled the determination of former Governor Pataki and Mayor Giuliani, both Republicans, to work together to develop the park.
“I predict that this section will be the most popular section of the entire 5 miles of the park,” said Ross Graham, a member of Community Board 4 and a founder, with John Doswell, of Friends of Hudson River Park.