CB1 Outlines Four Score and Eight Priorities for Lower Manhattan
The administration of Mayor Eric Adams is being urged by Community Board 1 (CB1) to allocate funds to 88 local needs in the coming (2024) fiscal year, ranging from retirement communities and bike lanes to parks and community centers.
In Battery Park City, CB1 wants the Adams administration to examine the possibility of creating a “naturally occurring retirement community” (NORC) in Gateway Plaza, where several hundred current residents moved in as young parents when the complex opened in the early 1980s, and are now struggling to age in place. (NORCs receive funding from the City’s Department for the Aging, for programs such as case management and assistance, and healthcare support.) More broadly, CB1 is asking the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development to look for opportunities to create more affordable in Battery Park City, while also devising ways to preserve the dwindling stock that currently exists.
The Board has a wide range of priorities related to parks, spanning the length and breadth of Lower Manhattan. CB1 wants to restore the legacy bluestone pathways in City Hall Park, while also rehabilitating and upgrading the park’s northeast plaza at the corner of Chambers and Centre Streets, and adding a public restroom to the plaza in front of the adjacent David N. Dinkins Municipal Building.
At the historic Bowling Green Park (the oldest in New York City, still enclosed by an original wrought-iron fence from the 1700s), the Board is requesting a full restoration and redesign, which could include new amenities, such as a playground.
Duane Park (wedged into the fork of Duane Street, where it meets Hudson Street) and Finn Square Park (at the convergence of West Broadway and Varick Street, between Franklin and Leonard Streets) are both due for expansion, CB1 says, with the latter also needing sidewalk reconstruction.
CB1 is also calling for major capital investments to improve access to the waterfront along the length of the East River Waterfront Esplanade, while also pushing for a new public pool. (If this project comes to pass, it is likely to take the form of a floating pool anchored offshore, near the South Street Seaport, which would filter river water.) The Board also wants a new pool built on Governors Island, for use as part of the aquatics program at the Harbor School, but it is not clear whether the public would have regular access to such a facility.
On the cultural front, the panel wants to see greater government support for the South Street Seaport Museum, with particular emphasis on that organization’s goal of restoring the historic Thompson Warehouse (an Italianate cast-iron and stone structure on Water Street, built in 1868). The Seaport Museum aims to transform the building into an education hub and a community gathering space—a project that will include new elevators, climate control systems, and full ADA accessibility. Elsewhere in the Seaport District, the Board wants a budget earmarked to fund the buildout of a permanent home for the highly regarded Fulton Stall Market.
CB1 also wants to extend hours and expand programs at two existing branches of the New York Public Library, in Battery Park City and on Murray Street, while also creating a new branch “for the growing population east of Broadway.”
Transportation infrastructure ranks high on the list of CB1’s asks, with a call to improve traffic and pedestrian safety on South End Avenue, along with a study to gauge the feasibility of a left-turn lane on West Street as it approaches Albany Street (southbound).
The Board wants a new bus stop installed in front of PS/IS 276 on Battery Place, and is also urging the City to begin implementing longstanding plans for a new network of bike lanes along Church, Varick, Murray, and Barclay Streets, as well as West Broadway and Park Place.
Pedestrians will get a dedicated space of their own if City Hall heeds CB1’s call to set in motion the Downtown Alliance’s “A More Welcoming Wall & Broad” initiative, which seeks to beautify the area within the security perimeter that surrounds the New York Stock Exchange.
CB1’s primary ask about resiliency is that the City fully fund the FiDi/Seaport Master Plan, which aims to protect the nearly mile-long stretch of East River waterfront between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Projected to cost between $5 and $7 billion (none of which has yet been allocated) and take a minimum of 15 years to construct (with no start date yet announced), the plan focuses on “passive” flood defense, which translates into a network of decks, berms, and breakwaters that will extend into the East River between 90 and 200 feet. The outermost edge of this complex would rise to an elevation between three and five feet above the waterline, while its landward side would reach as high as 15 feet, thus creating a physical barrier that will stop flood waters.
The Board is further pushing for the creation of a series of new community spaces, as sites such as the Brooklyn Bridge anchorages and at the former site of the New Market Building (which was demolished in the fall of 2021) in the South Street Seaport. In a resolution about the New Market site enacted last October, CB1 noted that “the proposed new Center is intended to provide urgently needed recreation and multi-purpose spaces for a part of the district east of Broadway that has seen a rapidly increasing multi-generational residential population but has very little open space and facilities to meet the needs of this area.” The proposal calls for gymnasiums, indoor play spaces and meeting venues, and a landscaped roof for active and passive uses, along with, “a public dock providing maritime access that could accommodate historic ships and other craft.” Additionally, CB1 wants funds allocated to allow for the replacement of the climate control system at the existing Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center, located in Tribeca.