Standing at the entrance of Pier 42 on Sunday, State Senator Daniel Squadron told local residents and activists, revitalization of the dilapidated space is “no longer just an idea. It’s becoming a reality.” During the next hour or so, he and Parks Department officials led a rare tour of the old “banana boat pier,” which is destined toone day become a new park and recreational area.
Last year at about this time, Squadron and U.S Senator Chuck Schumer announced they’d persuaded the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to devote $16 million to the first phase of the large redevelopment project. Now the Parks Department has brought on a design firm, Mathews Nielsen, to oversee the transformation of one of the last green links in Manhattan’s riverfront.
What exactly is going to be constructed on Pier 42 will depend, partially, on what the community wants to see. Community Board 3 will be holding the first visioning session this coming Thursday, at 6:30 p.m. at the Hamilton Fish Rec Center, 128 Pitt Street. Yesterday it was announced that the northern end of the pier will be activated on November 3, when a “fall festival” will be held, a program planned by Hester Street Collaborative, a non-profit specializing in reclaiming public space for the community.
People who showed up today at Pier 42, located at the end of Montgomery Street, got to walk through the massive old shed, which was part of a banana cargo business until the late 1980’s. The shed, which takes up around 2.5 acres, will probably be torn down, but that’s a topic that will be taken up during the community visioning process. The entire pier, including a parking lot adjacent to the shed, spans about eight acres.
One of Pier 42’s best features is the spectacular view along the East River. Residents posed for pictures during the tour and snapped photos of the bridges and the Statue of Liberty. An engineering firm has already started studying the structural integrity of the pier. It’s clear the pile structure and the concrete slab are weak in a number of places, but more surveys are necessary before city officials know how much effort (and money) will be required to stabilize the pier.
One big priority will be connecting newly refurbished East River Park to Pier 42. There’s a staging area, used all these years for the big East River project, that will be refurbished as part of the Pier 42 revamp. Given the size of the undertaking, it’s bound to cost tens of millions of dollars. While Squadron acknowledges it won’t be easy to find the funds, he’s told us in the past that momentum (created by the initial infusion of money) will make the campaign for more cash a lot easier.
More money has already materialized. Recently U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez was able to allocate $2.5 million in Transportation Department funding for improvements to the outer pathway alongside Pier 42.