Volume 18 • Issue 12 | August 12 - 18, 2005


The great will get even better on Tribeca’s piers

Step onto one of Tribeca’s two piers and the neighborhood feels like a small town – barbecued food, picnic tables, bare bones mini golf, free kayaking, beach volleyball, boats. Are we still in New York?

Yes we are, but Piers 25 and 26 did not become the neighborhood’s great community spaces because of the activities. It is the people who have followed their passions — whether for children, marine life or boating — that have built great programs and made it a home away from home for the passing cyclist at rest or the land-locked Tribecan seeking a river view. This fall the Hudson River Park Trust plans to close the piers for three years in order to build the park’s Tribeca section.

It’s a plan that many of us in the community have pushed and prodded state and city officials to implement for years and we are delighted the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation authorized the $70 million to build the Tribeca section. We understand completely the disappointment that the piers will be closed for so long and the fear that the community feel of the piers will be lost once the park reopens. The atmosphere of the piers may never be replicated but that doesn’t mean they won’t be even greater community spaces. We think they will.

Many, if not all of the groups running programs on the piers are likely to return once it reopens. Connie Fishman, president of the Trust, told us a few months ago that things like free pier graduation parties for the local schools will continue.

The piers will eventually collapse if they are not rebuilt, and once rebuilt, they will be close to their original sizes, offering river views from 1,000 feet away on Pier 25. There will be a new playground, a better mini-golf course, a new boathouse, new marine study center, more plantings.

There is always a risk that “better” in reality will translate into something more sterile and less homemade, but we are comforted the Trust chose landscape architect Signe Nielsen to do the final design for the section. She has lived and worked in the neighborhood for many years and did a terrific job redesigning Tribeca’s Duane Park. She is attuned to what people in the community want.

The Trust has adjusted the plan many times over the years responding to neighborhood concerns fleshed out in countless community board meetings, which included the groups currently on the pier.

The state-city authority must do as much as possible to find interim space for uses like the Manhattan Youth programs, the River Project, the historic Yankee Ferry and the Downtown Boathouse. These activities are a large reason that there was enough political pressure to finally get the park project moving. Pier 40, just to the north, is a natural locale for some of these uses. To the extent that it’s feasible, the Trust should also see about opening parts of the Tribeca section at times during the three-year construction period.

The last season of “down-home” Piers 25 and 26 can now be measured in weeks. It is a reason to be sad, yes, but there is also more reason to be optimistic about the future. And there is a lot more fun waiting on the piers this summer. Enjoy it.


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