Volume 22, Number 54 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 21 - 27, 2010
Bob Townley, executive director of Manhattan Youth and the new chair of the Hudson River Park Advisory Council at the Pier 62 opening.
Yet another chair for Bob Townley to sit in
BY Helaina N. Hovitz
Bob Townley, executive director of Manhattan Youth and chairperson of CB 1’s Waterfront Committee, will have one more chair to sit in this year: on the Hudson River Park Advisory Council.
Once every three years, the chairperson of CB 1 selects a member to chair the advisory counsel of the Hudson River Park Trust (the chairs of CBs 2 and 4 hold the seat for the other two years). The council is made up of residents and stakeholders in the Park along Manhattan’s West Side. CB1 chair Julie Menin selected Townley, who is more than familiar with the park, as this year’s chairperson. Townley sat on advisory committees in the early ’90s that conceptualized Hudson River Park, and worked with people like Tessa Huxley, executive director of Battery Park, while programs in Battery Park City were just getting underway.
Hudson River Park is now going through an expansion; a brand new park section in Tribeca opened in spring 2008, construction is underway at five park piers, and major parts of the Tribeca area of the park will open in fall of this year. Pier 64 in Chelsea, including the upland area to Pier 66, is now open and the programs and operation are something the advisory council taked under consideration. Pier 62 opened last week and includes a skatepark built by the California Skateparks/Site Design Group, a Lynden Miller-designed garden with a carousel, among other features.
The first order of business for Townley is to document and present all of the groups that use Hudson River Park, and acknowledge the organizations and businesses that operate there.
“The park has a long history of community involvement and I believe no other park in the city has the level of accountability and community support as the new Hudson River Park,” said Townley. “This old beat-up waterfront will be a great asset to community residents and tourists alike. I imagine millions go to the waterfront each year.”
Townley then asserted Hudson River Park “has as many permits and as many things operating… and is just as important of a [community] resource as Central Park.” And he noted that when the “promenade that will lead from the Statue of Liberty up to the Intrepid” is completed it might very well serve as a model for waterfront sustainability all over the world.
Most importantly, however, Townley wants to make sure the park is complete. Piers 26 and 25 are missing funds for a small portion of the upland area and lacking funds for the estuarium but are both slated for an October opening. Townley noted that both Piers were covered by debris after 9/11 and said they will be a great resource for the Tribeca and Battery Park City communities.
“I would like it to be a very public opening,” he said. “I don’t want to diminish any of the openings but I want it to be the biggest of all the openings in Hudson River Park. And hopefully we can block Canal Street off and anyone who tries to come down from there, we can keep them out,” added Townley with a smile.
Hudson River Park and the Hudson River Park Trust began working together in 1999. The five-mile park began construction in 2000, and in the ten years that Hudson River Park Trust has been operate without state or city funding, relying solely on rent, concession fees, grants, sponsorships and donations.
Townley’s interest spans beyond his own front door. “I want to do my part to help the other sections of the park…Pier 40 and other parts of Chelsea are all in need of completion,” said Townley.
— with reporting by John Bayles