Wagner Park construction paused after neighbors sue

The Battery Park City Neighborhood Association has sued the Battery Park City Authority — and successfully (for now) paused construction there by court order. The suit, brought in New York Supreme Court, alleges that the authority failed to look at less costly and more effective design strategies and they also failed to consider the appropriate climate studies when determining how to rebuild the park. A judge will hear arguments today.

More on the current plans of the BPCA are here.

You can read the petition itself here, and here are some exceprts:

  • In the name of climate resiliency, the Battery Park City Authority—a group of unelected state bureaucrats—has approved a $221 million
    dollar plan that needlessly demolishes this Picassoesque green oasis into a spiritless concrete-laden amphitheater with a reduced-sized horseshoe-shaped lawn.
  • The Authority’s plan not only harms the community and negatively impacts the natural environment, but its approval was irrational and arbitrary, for two general reasons.
  • First, the Authority failed to give an appropriate hard look at a reasonable, less costly, and more effective alternative design proposed by the initial firm hired to evaluate the need for a resiliency project
  • Second, the Authority also failed to properly consider the appropriate climate science studies and information when determining their design for climate protection barriers.
  • Petitioners request that the Court issue a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction because the Authority violated its duty to strictly comply with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) by failing to give fair and reasonable consideration to an available and effective alternative plan that is less destructive, costly, time consuming and has broad community support.

The neighborhood association was able to assemble a design team to work pro-bono — landscape architecture firm Olin (who also designed Pier 26 and Wagner and even worked on the BPC Master Plan) and architects Machado Silvetti — to reimagine the park with minimal impact to the current design and minimal disruption to the park so it can remain open, yet still provide protection in the case of floods. (You can also flip through a PDF of the plan on their site here.) The video of that presentation is below, but in short, it leaves the pavilion as-is with a flood wall built into the eastern side of the park. In the case of flood, the park would go under but the water would stay out of the neighborhood.

The architects maintain that this plan will protect the neighborhood just as well from flood, but will be quicker to complete, require less fill and keep the park at a lower elevation, and preserve many of the mature trees currently in the park. The BPCA plan will close the park for two years.

They also noted that this is not a design, but a concept. They said they cannot estimate construction time exactly, but it could be 12 to 16-month project. They also do not have cost estimates of course, but thought it would be lower than the BPCA’s current estimate for Wagner, which is coming in at $221 million.