Volume 21, Number 40 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | February 13 - 19, 2009

Pier A losing a tenant

The National Park Service is losing interest in using Pier A to screen the hordes of tourists who line up in Battery Park for the ferries to Ellis and Liberty Islands.

The National Park Service told the Battery Park City Authority, which is charged with restoring and renting the dilapidated pier building, that they are considering other places to move, said Leticia Remauro, spokesperson for the B.P.C.A.

Darren Boch, N.P.S. spokesperson, said the federal agency hasn’t ruled out Pier A, but it does have a few disadvantages: It’s small and narrow, and the historic structure sits on crumbling piers that will be expensive to repair.

A better alternative could be the Coast Guard building near the Staten Island Ferry terminal, Boch said. It’s bigger and the N.P.S. already uses it as a dock for its staff boat. The N.P.S. would have to enlarge the dock to use it for the Liberty Island and Ellis Island ferries.

“There’s obviously appeal” to moving into the Coast Guard space, Boch said, though the N.P.S. has made no decisions.

A Coast Guard spokesperson had not heard of the potential plan.

Warrie Price, president of the Battery Conservancy, hopes the National Park Service will decide on a new location sooner rather than later.

“It’s covering up the beautiful promenade of the Battery,” Price said of the security tents the N.P.S. uses to screen tourists. “That’s not historically accurate.”

While the N.P.S. debates where to move, the Battery Park City Authority’s retail consultant is working on a plan for Pier A with the goal of generating as much money as possible.

Jeff Mihok, a member of Community Board 1, said during a recent meeting that he wants nonprofits to use the space. Remauro, from the authority, did not rule out the possibility, but she said every tenant would have to pay rent, so nonprofits would not get free space, as they often have in new residential developments elsewhere in the neighborhood.

Remauro added that no matter what goes inside the historic pier building, “The space around [the building] will be open to the public.”

The authority leased the fenced-off, 122-year-old pier from the city last year, after the city failed to develop it. The city gave the authority a cap of $30 million to restore the pier for public use, and the authority has already started repairing the underwater substructure. The pier, once used as a fireboat station, could reopen as soon as 2011.

— Julie Shapiro




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