Volume 73, Number 52 | April 28 - May 4, 2004


Hudson River Park’s future is looking brighter

For years there has been growing concern among Hudson River Park activists that the funds for the park’s construction were running low. Now, the park’s funds have almost run out.

Going back to previous administrations, the city and state pledged $100 million each for the park, and that money was allocated. Last summer, the Greenwich Village segment of the park, costing $59 million, was opened; thus far, it remains the only section of the five-mile-long park to have been built.

There is money left to construct some Uptown portions of the park, which stretches from Chambers to 59th Sts., but there is none on hand to build the Downtown sections in Tribeca and Chelsea.

However, things have started to look brighter since January, when Connie Fishman took over as president of the Hudson River Park Trust, the organization building and operating the park. Most notably, the Trust has reached out for federal funding in a major way. The Trust — along with Friends of Hudson River Park, the park’s chief advocacy and lobbying group — prevailed upon Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki to get Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer to request $115 million for the park in the Water Resources Development Act.

Seeking to obtain federal funds is a departure for the Trust, which in the past was reluctant to do so. The Trust, and others, including the Friends, feared the possibility that a lengthy environmental impact study would be required to get federal funds. However, the Army Corps of Engineers’ assessment four years ago, when reviewing whether to issue permits for in-water work for the park, that a full E.I.S. wasn’t needed indicates a federal E.I.S. would likely not be required if WRDA funds are indeed allocated.

To come back up to date, we hope Senators Clinton and Schumer will do everything in their power to secure as much of the requested $115 million as possible.

On another front, it’s high time the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation decide on whether to grant the Trust’s request for $70 million to construct the park’s Tribeca segment. We’re aware there’s great demand on the L.M.D.C.’s remaining $1 billion, with the strongest call coming from backers of improved rail links from J.F.K. and the Long Island Rail Road to the Financial District.

While creating better connections and reviving Downtown’s economy is obviously critical, this park project is just what the community needs to spur its rebirth after 9/11. It’s a project that fulfills exactly what the L.M.D.C. is charged to do.

Things were looking bleak for Hudson River Park for a while. But if the WRDA and L.M.D.C. funds come through, the outlook will change 180 degrees. We hope Congress and the L.M.D.C. can appreciate the inherent importance of this project and how it will benefit New Yorkers, and will help move to make the full park a reality.

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