Volume 74, Number 24 | Octuber 13 - 19 , 2004

Villager photo by Jennifer Bodrow

At the Hudson River Park Trust’s Oct. 7 board of directors meeting, Julie Nadel, a Tribeca waterfront activist and board member, held up an issue of the Sept. 29 Villager open to the editorial “Trust must reveal its financial plan.” Nadel urged the Trust to follow the editorial’s suggestion.

Trust member says long-range financial plan needed

By Lincoln Anderson

Taking a page from The Villager, literally, Julie Nadel, a board of directors member of the Hudson River Park Trust, asked the state-city authority to consider The Villager’s suggestion in a recent editorial that the Trust put together and make public a long-term financial plan for the park.

At the Trust’s Oct. 7 board meeting, Nadel noting that The Villager covers the park “more than anyone else,” held up the newspaper’s Sept. 29 issue, open to its editorial, “Trust must reveal financial plan.”

As the editorial noted, Nadel said local elected officials — particularly Assemblymember Deborah Glick — have long called for the release of such a plan. Former State Senator Franz Leichter, a Trust director, has also asked the Trust to provide its long-range plan, she added.

In her initial answer to Nadel’s question, Connie Fishman, the Trust’s president, said that the budget is done for the whole 5-mile park but that they could probably break costs down for maintenance, utilities and administration just for the Greenwich Village segment, for example.

However, Nadel — a Tribeca resident and historic ships enthusiast — said that’s not what the editorial or she were asking.

“I think the main issue is where the revenue is coming in from?” she explained. “Is there any kind of thought to where the money is coming in from to maintain the park over time?”

Fishman said current revenue generators include Pier 40, which has parking, the Circle Line, World Yacht, Chelsea Piers and special events.

The issue of the park’s long-range financial plan arose again recently over the question of Pier 57, after two of four development plans for the former M.T.A. bus depot were rejected because the Trust found they would not generate enough revenue for the park. Glick and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, among others, expressed dissatisfaction that money seemed to be the main factor influencing the Trust’s decision. Glick and Democratic District Leader Arthur Schwartz made similar comments during the failed process to find a developer for Pier 40 last year.

Fishman said that as of now, “the only opportunity besides Pier 57” for new revenue within the park is the pier used by Circle Line, whose lease expires in 2017.

“It’s not that complicated,” Fishman said. “If we can get additional revenue from Pier 57, that’s where we can get it in the next 10-12 years.”

The first park of its kind in New York State, Hudson River Park is intended to be self-supporting.

Fishman said the issue is really the question: where does the Trust see money coming from in the future?

“How can you tell?” asked former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, a Trust board member.

Leichter said while there’s no question the Trust is very open in terms of its finances — issuing quarterly reports, for example — there is a need to look at future financial planning, especially since the park needs at least $200 million to be completed.

“We know there’s a gap in monies we’re going to need to finish the park,” Leichter said. He suggested that the board at least constitute a planning group to consider where these funds can be found.

Trip Dorkey, the board’s chairperson, noted there are a lot of projects competing for scarce parks funds.

“It’s hard to wait in line — and sometimes we have to wait in line,” he said.

The board didn’t see a problem with forming the planning group.

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