Volume 73, Number 50 | April 21 - 27, 2004

Hudson River Park: Pier 40 field of dreams coming

By Lincoln Anderson

The Hudson River Park Trust is moving ahead with plans for a new sports field in the mammoth courtyard of Pier 40, the 15-acre pier at the end of W. Houston St.

The field is scheduled to be open in the fall and will cost several million dollars to build. It will be an artificial-surface field, using a product such as FieldTurf. The facility is part of the interim plan for the pier until the Trust is ready to put out a request for private developers to do a full redevelopment of the pier.

Chris Martin, the Trust’s spokesperson, said the agency is currently in the process of bidding out the project. According to sources, a bid is expected to be chosen at the Trust’s board of directors meeting next month.
The Trust will run the fields.

“The permitting fees for the new fields will remain as they are now for our current fields, with youth-oriented leagues and groups paying a nominal fee and adult leagues paying slightly more,” said Martin.

Barry Lafer, president of the Greenwich Village Little League, said he expects the field to be ready by Labor Day. He said the hope is that the fields — really one giant field that can be used for several games or different sports at once — will be able to be converted from soccer to baseball or vice versa in an hour. The league hopes to be able to have a portable outfield fence it can put up for games. Lafer said the latest FieldTurf is far advanced from the material put down a few years ago at J.J. Walker Field on Hudson St. and, in fact, that dirt sliding pits around bases aren’t needed anymore because of the new surface’s composition.

As for the passive recreation space on the south side of Pier 40’s roof that is also part of the interim plan, Martin said, “The passive recreational portion of the Pier 40 rooftop will be built in conjunction with the reconstruction of the [existing] rooftop field adjacent to it. Both areas will be done after the construction of the courtyard field.”

Again, according to sources, the rooftop passive recreation space may be redesigned from a strip along the edge to a rectangular space that will run perhaps half the length of the south side of the pier. This will be unprogrammed space with seating, picnic tables and the like.

Said Martin, “When the courtyard field is complete we will explore any possible options” for the passive-use space.

As for when the Trust will restart the process of trying to redevelop the full pier, Martin said, “The Trust is working with a real estate and marketing consultant who is developing a report that will assist in coming up with the best strategy for Pier 40’s redevelopment.”

The Trust also plans to build tennis courts just north of Canal St.

“We are in the bidding process for the tennis courts and will have a set schedule and a set price once a bidder is selected,” said Martin. “The courts will be permanent.”

As for the embattled ice rink that was a pet project of Governor Pataki but rejected by Greenwich Village’s Community Board 2, Martin said, “The ice rink is on hold.

We are currently evaluating potential locations, but have not yet reached a conclusion.” Unfortunately, the report isn’t as positive for other segments of the park that, unlike the Greenwich Village segment, have not been constructed yet.

Said Martin, “The design for the Chelsea section is not complete. The cost for the segment is $80 million dollars, which we do not have at this time. The design for the Tribeca section is not complete. The cost for the segment is $60 million dollars for which we applied to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.” As for getting the money from the L.M.D.C., Martin said, “There is no set date at this time.

Added Martin, “The Trust currently has enough funding for the completion of Segment 7, Clinton Cove Park, and Segment 6, which includes Pier 84. Segment 7 will be completed sometime in the spring of 2005, whereas Segment 6 is slated for completion in or around the winter of 2006.

“We are currently reviewing all funding options including federal, state and local sources, including the Federal Water Resources Development Act,” the spokesperson said.

Would the Trust consider building the rest of the park in a less-extravagant manner to save funds?

“No,” he said.

As for Pier 57, the former M.T.A. bus depot in south Chelsea, for which seven interested developer parties responded, Martin said, “We have not yet made a selection for the developer of Pier 57. However, we are hoping to have made a decision by this summer. As we are still evaluating the responses to the request for proposals, it is not appropriate to discuss the proposals or our evaluation of them at this time.”

Martin said the Trust will be announcing its lineup of summer programming next week.

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