The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) has begun installing life preservers along the Esplanade, following an extensive dialog with community leaders about the need for additional safety measures to aid in rescuing people who fall (or jump) into the Hudson River.
This map highlights (in red) the seven locations where the Authority plans to install life preservers.
The issue first arose at the October, 2017 meeting of the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1), where chairwoman Tammy Meltzer recounted a series of such incidents in recent years (some of which ended in fatalities), and observed, “there is no way to get up from the river once you’re in, and there’s no way for anybody who wants to help to get down. There are no chains, rope holds, or bars for people to hold on to, or use to climb out. The only ways to get back onto land are the docks at North Cove Marina, or the ferry terminal near 300 Vesey Street.” She also observed that, “on the water side of Esplanade wall, the cement is jagged,” which prevents anybody in the water from holding on.
Ms. Meltzer also noted at the October meeting, “the BPCA is now putting out a request for proposals for new way finding signage, and life preservers could be made a part of that package.” The following month, several residents raised the same subject at the BPCA’s Open Community Meeting.
At Tuesday’s session of the Battery Park City Committee, the Authority’s new president, B.J. Jones, announced that the BPCA had decided to implement this proposal. “The community asked, and we answered,” said Mr. Jones. “Accidents and emergencies happen, and while we urge people to always take care along the Esplanade, as a waterfront community we’ll always look to implement common-sense precautions aimed at keeping the public safe.”
Afterward, Justine Cuccia, a resident who is also one of the founders of the grassroots organization, Democracy for Battery Park City, reflected that, “the BPCA got two very important things right with this decision. The first is the outcome itself: Placing life rings on the Esplanade is a low-cost, low-risk way to save lives. The second win is how they came to this decision — through discussion, collaboration, and partnership with the community. This is a model for how the relationship between the BPCA and Battery Park City residents should always work.”
Battery Park City Authority president Benjamin Jones: “The community asked, and we answered. We always aim to be an agent of community well-being, and an integral part of that is listening to our residents, concerns and making improvements where we can.”
As part of the rollout, the BPCA has installed the first two cabinets containing life preservers and ropes in the southern end of Battery Park City, at the end of Pier A and at the tip of Wagner Park. In coming weeks, the Authority plans to position similar equipment at five additional locations:
* the North Esplanade, behind Stuyvesant High School
* the Rockefeller Park Esplanade, near the Ulysses statue
* the Rockefeller park Esplanade, near the pool tables
* the Esplanade, near Rector Place
* the Wagner Park Esplanade, behind the Museum of Jewish Heritage
Mr. Jones added, “we always aim to be an agent of community well-being, and an integral part of that is listening to our residents’ concerns and making improvements where we can.”