It will be years before the dream of building a large new park at Pier 42, near Gouverneur Street, is realized. But this past weekend, community activists, non-profit organizations and local politicians took an important symbolic step toward claiming the parcel along the East River for public use. A community day was held Saturday on Pier 42, the kickoff to a summer-long effort to engage residents in the future of the pier.
A year-and-a-half ago, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. allocated $16 million for the first phase of the project. A design firm, Mathews Nielsen, will present preliminary master plans to Community Board 3 later this week, following a series of community vision sessions during the past several months. On Saturday, Sen. Squadron, who helped secure the funding along with U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, and representatives from non-profit organizations, who have led a long campaign for public access on the waterfront, celebrated the partial opening on Pier 42.
A section of the pier closest to East River Park was recently paved. Several groups, including Hester Street Collaborative, Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, CAAAV, Good Old Lower East Side and the LES Ecology Center teamed up to create Paths to Pier 42, “a series of art, educational and design installations and public events.” They’re being supported by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Waterfront Alliance and Senator Squadron. Five artists were selected to take part in the project, which will be installed in July. They include:
We’ll have more on their individual projects in the weeks ahead. Anne Frederick, head of Hester Street Collaborative said, “we’re excited to open the site and to begin to test out ideas,” and to explore the community’s “relationship to the water in the context of Hurricane Sandy.” Each artist is working in tandem with a member of the Waterfront Alliance. CB3 Chairperson Gigi Li, noting that the neighborhood has less green space than any other community district, said, “it’s imperative that community members have a say in how their park space used. Damaris Reyes, executive director of GOLES, said many of the low income residents her group represents were afraid years ago when the city signaled its desire to redevelop the waterfront. “That’s why we need to be engaged… in making sure we have a voice and that the waterfront is for everyone.” Victor Papa of Two Bridges Neighborhood Council said he’s happy the project is finally moving forward but urged Senator Squadron to cajole the city into moving more quickly on other stalled projects along the waterfront. “The Lower East Side is always waiting,” he observed. “The promenade on South Street is not completed. Pier 35 is not completed. No one is working.”
The Pier 42 master plans will be presented Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. at the BRC Senior Center, 30 Delancey St. Parks Department officials have estimated it will eventually cost at least $50 million to build the park. See below for more photos from Saturday’s event: