Volume 16 • Issue 29 | December 16 - 22, 2003

Assembly to hear complaints about Hudson Park Trust

By Albert Amateau

West Side members of the state Assembly will bring their charges that the Hudson River Park Trust has been excluding the public from participating in important decisions on the 4.5-mile park between the Battery and 59th Sts.

The Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions will hear the complaints at 10:30 a.m. Wed. Dec. 17 in the 19th floor hearing room at 250 Broadway.

Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, along with fellow members Deborah Glick and Scott Stringer, requested the hearing. Gottfried said he believes the Trust, the state-city agency building the park, has been violating the intent of the Hudson River Park Act by neglecting public discussion of park decisions.

“In the early days of the Trust there were many public meetings to help develop plans and guidelines for the park,” said Gottfried, a co-author of the 1998 Hudson River Park Act that created the Trust. “But in the last few years there has been little if any public notice and input. The skating rink was only the latest example of that neglect,” said Gottfried, referring to the proposal, dropped after a public outcry, to build an ice rink in the upland park designated for lawns and gardens near Pier 40.

The ice rink’s proposed location was opposed by Community Boards 1 and 2 because members thought it would block too much of the esplanade. Some park advocates are also concerned because there is not enough money to build the Downtown section of the park and have called on the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to pay the $70 million to complete the section south of Pier 40.

Gottfriend added that bringing the Concorde to a barge at the Intrepid Sea/Air Museum Pier 86 last month should also have been a subject of public discussion. “I assumed that the Concorde was to be on the deck of the Intrepid,” he said. “Parking a barge for a land-based plane like the Concorde is in my opinion an improper taking of water in the park jurisdiction for an inappropriate use,” he reasoned.

“Whether it was a good idea or a bad one, there should have been public notice and consultation.” Gottfried added.

“I’ve also been unhappy with the Trust’s relationship with Chelsea Piers Management,” said Gottfried. “Chelsea Piers has gotten away with a lot of things that the Trust should not have allowed to happen. The Target store on a barge at Pier 62 in the Chelsea Piers complex last November was improper and a clear violation of the law. Luckily no one has followed it as a precedent this year,” he said.

Gottfried also said that Chelsea Piers’ attempt three years ago to “park a so-called jazz boat at Pier 62” was overstepping the law. “It didn’t happen, but no thanks to H.R.P.T.; they should have said ‘no’ from the start,” Gottfried said.

The Trust has indicated it would appear at the Dec. 17 hearing, according to the office of Assemblymember Richard Brodsky, of the 92nd Assembly District in Westchester, chairperson of the Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee.



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