From crumbling piers to community treasures

Gayle M. Horwitz

BY GAYLE M. HORWITZ  |  Not many years ago, what is today’s Battery Park City was the shoreline of the Hudson River, dotted with crumbling piers. As the 1960s became the ‘70s, promise became progress as 92 acres of landfill began to take shape. We were in financing, design and construction mode for decades until the last of the vacant parcels was built upon. As this unparalleled growth nears completion, the Battery Park City Authority opens an important new chapter.

What these 92 acres have become and symbolize is a testament to the great vision, creativity, tenacity and leadership demonstrated during times of major changes, not only to the political landscape, but to the economic life of this city and state. The fulfillment of the Master Plan and sustained growth bring us to the next phase where our efforts are dedicated to the continued enhancement of the 35 acres of treasured park and open space, property and asset management and the ongoing improvement of the quality of life for the thousands of people who live, work, visit and study here.

The B.P.C.A. takes seriously the maintenance and improvement of this vital infrastructure. Our iconic Esplanade, which attracts thousands of pedestrians, joggers and bicycle riders, extends just over a mile. And its concrete platform projects from the seawall, supported on concrete piles. While they are totally secure, more than 35 years of tidal action and seasonal water temperature changes have had a wearing effect and we are continually addressing surface and under water issues. Our ongoing maintenance of this beloved public amenity will ensure safe enjoyment for years to come, while adding value to the property where people live.

In the months ahead, the Irish Hunger Memorial art installation will undergo extensive repairs and waterproofing, the public rest rooms in Wagner Park will be upgraded, and reconstruction of Murray Street, with installation of a traffic signal, will begin this spring as well.  West Thames Park has been fully restored and will be open in time for the season. Repairs are planned for the electrical grid in the South residential neighborhood and the electrical grid for the South Cove blue lights as well.

All of this on the heels of this year’s opening of our state of the art multi-sport, ball fields with lighting and synthetic turf, repaving of Murray Street near Tear Drop Park to include traffic calming measures, restoration of the South Quay, near completion of the long-awaited community center featuring two swimming pools and gym on North End Avenue, a new public space in the ball field terrace, installation of WiFi in all of our Parks, and at our southernmost point, the transformational renovation of Pier A.

We also remain steadfastly committed to ensuring that our neighborhood remains safe and secure for our residents and visitors by providing around-the-clock Park Enforcement Patrol coverage. We are prepared to respond to any emergency and Tropical Storm Irene was a solid example of the community coming together in tough times.

Through our BPC Parks Conservancy we offer a free trash compacting program in which 19 residential buildings participate. A third location is expected to open this summer. Our maintenance, care and dedication to green space is reflected in our award-winning parks. We truly are the envy of the City. And again this year, we will offer another fantastic year of summer recreational and musical programming with free concerts and our sponsorship of the always-popular River-to-River series.

During this vibrant period, I am proud to say that B.P.C.A. has a storied history and a future on which we focus with optimism and confidence.

Gayle M. Horwitz is President and CEO of the Battery Park City Authority.

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