Volume 74, Number 22 | September 29 - October 5 , 2004

Trust must reveal its financial plan

The latest flare-up over the Hudson River Park involves not Pier 40 at W. Houston St. on the Lower West Side, the big controversy of last year, but another one, Pier 57 at W. 15th St. in Chelsea. By preemptively rejecting two of four development groups’ plans for the pier, the Hudson River Park Trust has, once again, raised the ire of some local politicians and park activists.

The crux of the issue is a lack of clarity — at least to those not on the Trust’s staff — about financial specifications for this pier, as well as other piers in the park. When plans were originally drawn up for Hudson River Park, it was unknown if the M.T.A. would remove its buses from Pier 57. The buses did recently vacate, their departure hastened by the pier’s poor condition.

Yet, whether this pier should be a so-called commercial node to generate revenue for the park was never decided in early planning. Now, we hear revenue-generating ability is the main criterion for the developers under consideration and the justification for dropping the two plans with nonprofit groups, while keeping alive the plans by Chelsea Piers and Cipriani.

To avoid the kind of turmoil seen in the Pier 40 process — which failed to result in the selection of a developer — and to better include elected officials and the community in the planning process for this public, taxpayer-funded park, it would behoove the Trust to issue a financial plan detailing exactly what is expected from each part of and pier in the park.

Until now, the development process for the park’s piers has been largely piecemeal — reminiscent of spot zoning on land. This seems no way to plan a world-class park. Instead of such a seat-of-the-pants process, it would be far better to have a clear financial plan available to those concerned about the park’s future, to guide the development and use of the piers, especially. This financial plan is an essential tool. Local politicians, notably Assemblymember Deborah Glick, have repeatedly called for the release or creation of such a plan, to no avail. As a public body dealing with a neighborhood deeply involved and concerned about every facet of this park, the Trust owes it to the community — and to itself — to issue such a financial plan.

The legacy of ‘Mr. Parks’

The renaming of the Carmine St. Recreation Center as the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center on Monday was more than a mere change of some signs. As numerous speakers at the ceremony noted, what Dapolito embodied as a person and civic activist of over 50 years is the legacy he leaves, which will endure with the naming of this popular, heavily used rec. center.

Not only was Dapolito a dedicated activist but a true neighborhood person who deeply valued community. He grew up in this neighborhood, and even showered in Carmine Rec. when he was a boy — when he also delivered The Villager, along with bread from his family’s Vesuvio bakery, in a horse-drawn wagon.

There never will be anyone more deserving of a Parks Department renaming than the Village’s “Mr. Parks.” That Dapolito’s name now adorns the rec. center on Seventh Ave. S. couldn’t feel more right.

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