Maintaining Hudson River Park

Madelyn Wils argues that preserving Pier 40 as a source of operating revenue is essential to the long-term survival of Hudson River Park.

“Looking back, the park’s funding blueprint did not anticipate the financial challenges of maintaining a park that was mostly built in the water with aging infrastructure. In order to make that model work, we’ve needed to be innovative about how we raise the money needed to keep the park running smoothly and looking beautiful.

Aside from leases and permits with tenants ranging from Chelsea Piers and the Intrepid to Classic Car Club and Grand Banks — an oyster bar on a historic wooden schooner — we’ve worked side by side with the community to advocate for other creative ways of funding our build-out and operations. One of those is through the sale of unused development rights from the park’s commercial piers; leadership from our community partners, together with our local politicians, helped us successfully advocate for and secure the 2013 amendment to the Hudson River Park Act that now allows us to tap that potential funding source.

Without that innovation and the community’s willingness to make hard choices in support of a broader goal, we would not be able to say that we have begun work on $100 million in critical repairs to Pier 40’s decaying steel piles. We are currently moving through the public review process of a second potential air-rights sale that that will result in nearly $50 million more to advance construction of new park areas in Chelsea and Clinton, as well as funds to maintain infrastructure. These upgrades wouldn’t be possible without the broad community support for the air-rights sales that will make them possible…

In short, for the first time in 20 years, after all the hurdles, we can see the finish line. Through all the challenges, really just one major hurdle remains: making sure Pier 40 remains a significant source of operating revenue for the entire park while providing ball fields and park amenities. We expect to continue working with the community and the local politicians who serve it on a long-term plan for Pier 40 that balances financial self-sufficiency with equally important community goals.

Getting the future of Pier 40 right is critical for the entire park’s long-term sustainability, and for our neighbors who depend on this W. Houston St. pier as a resource.” – Madelyn Wils

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