Volume 17 • Issue 29 | Dec. 10 -16, 2004



Little West park dreams seem over

By Josh Rogers

The little known street known as Little West St. once was thought to be an area for more recreational park space in Battery Park City, but that idea has been scrapped to keep the street open and add trees to a promenade along the bigger West St.

Community Board 1 has long advocated active recreation space just about anywhere possible in Lower Manhattan and some members were surprised to learn last week at a state Dept. of Transportation hearing that there would be none near the south end of West St.

Tom Goodkind, a C.B.1 member, said Little West St. could be closed and the buildings that are expected to be built in the south would still have streets on three sides.

“It would be a win for the community to get some recreation,” Goodkind said this week. “We don’t need another road. They’ve got three-way access.”

Tim Carey, president of the Battery Park City Authority, said park space on Little West is based on an old and never-implemented planning document that included parks on Little West between First and Third Place. The authority hired landscape architect Ken Smith to come up with the plan in 1997.

“Things change,” Carey said in a telephone interview. For instance, he said Site 2 has been divided into two to allow for a residential building on Little West and Second Pl. and a women’s history museum at the west half of the site. Construction on the residential building being developed by Millennium Partners is expected to begin in January and the museum has been delayed. Carey said the building will need Little West access.

A Millennium executive did not return a call seeking comment.

Carey implied there was room for active recreation along West St. itself but said there was a desire to create a friendly pedestrian walkway connecting the World Trade Center memorial to Battery Park, which includes Pier A and the Statue of Liberty ferry site.

“The governor and mayor feel there should be a grand promenade — a Champs Elysees where you could walk from ground zero to the ferries and Pier A,” said Carey, an appointee and friend of Gov. George Pataki.

The West St. promenade is just outside the authority’s authority, but the agency does have control of Little West St. until 2069, based on a 1993 agreement with the city in which the B.P.C.A. paid the city $150 million, Carey said.

Anthony Notaro, chairperson of C.B. 1’s B.P.C. committee, said there is enough room for what everyone wants. “You could have a tree-lined promenade and you could have active stuff too,” he said.

Notaro said he has had several discussions with state Transportation officials and he is hopeful there can be a change. He said D.O.T. officials have given him assurances that they are still open to comments and they will make another presentation. Construction is scheduled to begin later this month on the $140 million project, but Notaro said a final decision about Little West could be made six months or so after construction begins.

State Transportation officials did not comment on Dec. 9.

The southern part of the project goes from Battery Pl. to W. Thames St. and Notaro said it looks to him like the narrow open space area would double if Little West were included.

Dan Flannery, general manager of the Ritz-Carlton at the southern tip of Battery Park City, said Little West St. must remain open at least near the hotel.

“Little West St. is our driveway,” he said. “There is no other place for the cabs to line up.” And if the street closed, “it would put us out of business.” Flannery said it wouldn’t hurt the hotel if the street were closed immediately to the north, but he had no way to assess whether that was a feasible solution.

He said D.O.T. and the authority have been very open and accommodating and have adjusted the plans accordingly. Originally, D.O.T. wanted to reduce Little West from three to two lanes, but agreed to build a layby area near the hotel for cabs and to allow the bus and limo traffic moving.

“We love the plans, we love the park space,” he said. “There has to be a balance between the different interests.”


Josh@DowntownExpress.com



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