Schumer, Squadron Call for Downtown Redevelopment Funds to Be Used to Complete East River Waterfront and Development of Ribbon Park

Daniel L. Squadron

November 21, 2010

Schumer, Squadron and Lower Manhattan Community Want to See ‘Continuous Green Ribbon’ Around Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan Development Corp to Meet on Monday to Begin Considering Where to Invest Remaining Dollars; Schumer, Squadron and Dozens of Community Leaders to Urge Funding of Lower Manhattan Ribbon Park Project, Including Development of Pier 42

Schumer, Squadron: Lower Manhattan Development Corp Should Seize this Opportunity to Weave East and West Sides Together for Unified Harbor Park

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and NYS Senator Daniel Squadron, joined by numerous community leaders, called on the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) today, to commit funding from the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Fund to complete the East River Waterfront park project, including the redevelopment of Pier 42. The LMDC will meet on Monday to begin considering what investments to make with remaining federal dollars. Schumer, who secured $20.4 billion in funding to help rebuild lower Manhattan in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, will call on the LMDC to fund the redevelopment of Pier 42 and complete the continuous green ribbon around Lower Manhattan, from Hudson River Park to East River Park and beyond.

"This is the final link in a fully connected East Side-West Side ribbon park that will unchain untold potential for Lower Manhattan, and the whole city,” said Schumer. “It will be an extraordinary amenity for those that live here; it will attract tourists by the millions; and it will create an even more attractive reason for businesses to locate here.”

“In deciding how to use its last dollars, LMDC has an opportunity to revitalize all of Lower Manhattan, bring new life to New York's harbor and leave a legacy for generations of New Yorkers by supporting the completion of the entire East River Waterfront, including Pier 42,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “The Lower East Side and Chinatown communities have long needed more open space, more green space for recreation and better access to the river – all goals we can address by building a world-class park along the East River. Completing this park will mark a vital step toward a unified Harbor Park--a Central Park for the center of our city. I am pleased to partner with Senator Schumer, other elected officials, and leaders of the Lower Manhattan community in this ambitious bid to complete the East River Waterfront, build Pier 42 and take a giant leap toward a true Harbor Park that will serve the community and the city.

Pier 42 is currently used for public parking and parking for movie productions. It is situated directly between Gouverneur and Jackson Streets, creating a major gap in the East River Waterfront park plans. Original plans for Pier 42 included removing an empty shed on the property and bringing the esplanade to the river’s edge. The reclaimed pier was scheduled to also be redeveloped with grassy open spaces and a sandy beach. Those plans were put on hold earlier this year when the City announced it did not have the funds to finance the project. The LMDC will be meeting on Monday to begin consideration of how it invests the remaining federal funds it is charged with administering. Schumer, Squadron, and local community leaders are calling on members of the LMDC to use federal redevelopment dollars to see the East River Waterfront park completed.

According to LMDC’s own estimates, the project would be possible for less than $45 million and would not affect other critically important projects, like the Performing Arts Center, which the LMDC announced last month it would allocate $100 million to. Schumer and Squadron noted that the project will not only complete the East River waterfront for recreational purposes, but would serve as a catalyst to revitalize a neighborhood that has all too often been left behind. In their letter to the LMDC they noted that to finish the Esplanade but leave Pier 42 unfinished would be a glaring omission that would be unlikely to be rectified for years or decades.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “Building a world-class park along the East River has always been a top priority of mine. That is why I successfully fought plans to turn Pier 42 into a construction staging area for the World Trade Center rebuilding. Along with members of the community, I have consistently advocated for the vision of public, open green space on the East River waterfront. This will provide a unique opportunity to create the urgently needed recreational space that my neighbors on the Lower East Side deserve.”

Susan Stetzer, District Manager of Manhattan Community Board 3, said, “A community waterfront would be a dream come true for the Lower East Side. It has long been the highest priority for our community to have access to our waterfront—and to enjoy beautiful park space and recreational area on the water and on piers over the water. We are very thankful to our senators – State Senator Squadron and Senator Schumer for working so hard on this initiative.”

Julie Menin, Community Board One and LMDC board member, said, “Developing Pier 42 and completing the East River waterfront will finally mean that the East River waterfront will serve as a critically needed amenity on the east side of our district and allow New Yorkers to enjoy access to the waterfront – one of New York City’s true gems.  Particularly in this tough economic climate, it is important to use Lower Manhattan Development Corporation funds for job creation and large infrastructure projects.”

Damaris Reyes, Executive Director of Good Ole Lower East Side, said, “A public place to play, learn and hold family events on the waterfront at Pier 42 would mean so much to the communities of the Lower East Side and Chinatown. We greatly appreciate Senator Schumer and State Senator Squadron's advocacy, and hope that we will soon be able to spend time with our families enjoying recreational amenities on Pier 42.”

“We’re excited that with the support of Senator Schumer and State Senator Squadron, Chinatown and Lower East Side residents’ vision for an accessible, community-oriented waterfront is one step closer to being realized,” said CAAAV Chinatown Tenants Union Director Esther Wang. “Immigrant and working-class neighborhoods - not just the Upper East Side or Chelsea - deserve and need world-class parks and open space, as well as community space. We hope that the LMDC agrees with us that funding should be allocated to develop what residents want on the East River waterfront and most importantly, on Pier 42.

Victor Papa, President of Two Bridges Council, said, “We welcome the initiative that Senator Schumer is making today because it finally brings major attention to the East River Waterfront and our community’s great need to access and enjoy it. Also, the senator’s words in support of the development and improvements of the East River promenade is a fulfillment of Senator Squadron’s own promise to treat this issue as a priority for a precious resource our community has too long been deprived of. We thank both of them and all the elected officials that are making these improvements possible.”

Christopher Kui, Executive Director of Asians Americans For Equality, “AAFE would like to thank immensely the hard work of Senator Chuck Schumer and State Senator Daniel Squadron in fighting for funds that would enable our waterfront to realize its greatest potential. A waterfront park at Pier 42 would give residents of the Lower East Side, Chinatown and East Village access to quality open space so needed in our community.”