Volume 20, Number 36 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 19 - 25, 2011

Downtown Express photo by John Bayles

The north side of Pier 25 will soon host historic vessels on a long-term basis in an attempt to fulfill the Trust’s master plan for the park.

New Pier seeking old ships

The Hudson River Park Trust is looking for some old ships to dock next to its new pier in Tribeca. The Trust’s master plan calls for three piers with the ability to harbor historic vessels on a long-term basis and Pier 25 is the first to be completed. The other two are Pier 54 and Pier 97.

Certain infrastructure requirements are necessary for historic vessels to dock at a pier for an extended period of time.

“There are things like foam-filled fenders and provisions for utility hook-ups to pump out the sewage,” said the Trust’s Vice President Noreen Doyle.

The Trust released a request for proposals on January 7 announcing its search. Doyle said the programming of the ships and their role at the pier would be based on who applies.

The proposal outlines examples of possible programming including vessels with “room for a classroom that would be made available for environmental or maritime educational programs.” Another example is a vessel that might function as a museum, while a third might offer field trips or other excursions for visitors.

When Pier 25 was designed the Trust knew it would eventually host a historic vessel so there were certain assumptions made in the engineering process, said Doyle. The design included three sets of foam fenders, but that does not necessarily mean only three ships can utilize the space. It is possible that a cluster of smaller vessels such as sailboats could use one set of the fenders while larger ships used the other two.

It will not be the first instance that historic boats have docked next to piers on the Hudson River but it is the first time a boat would be docking for an extended period of time.

“There were some that predated the Trust, but this really is more a fulfillment of the original vision for the park,” said Doyle. “The plan was to incorporate elements of the park’s rich waterfront history.”

As far as any fees associated with the vessels and their programming, the Trust’s proposal does not prohibit activities that would charge a fee. But Doyle noted that there are certain expectations.

“If it’s something that would make a significant amount of money, there is an expectation that wouldn’t it fully be pocketed,” said Doyle.

Since it is a park, there has to be a balancing of the public interest, said Doyle.

Scenarios include possible dockage fees paid to the Trust or substantial and significant reinvestments back into the vessels by the operators.

“We’re not going to allow a penny in exchange for a lucrative operation,” said Doyle.

— John Bayles

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