Park Resiliency Plans for Rockefeller Park and Belvedere Plaza
The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) hosted a public meeting about its North/West Battery Park City Resiliency Project on Wednesday, February 8, at Stuyvesant High School (345 Chambers Street), starting at 6:30pm.
The session gave participants an overview of evolving plans for the creation of a flood-risk management system stretching from a point near First Place and the Esplanade (in the neighborhood’s southern section), where it will link up with the BPCA’s South Battery Park City Resiliency Plan, which is slated to begin construction in the near future. From this southern anchor, the North/West Battery Park City Resiliency Project (NWBPCR) will proceed along the Hudson River waterfront to behind Stuyvesant High School, before hooking to the right and then stretching into Tribeca, where it will terminate at a high point on Greenwich Street, north of Chambers Street.
With early budget estimates pegging construction costs at approximately $630 million, the Authority’s plans for resiliency along the Esplanade divide the scope of the project into seven “reaches”—discrete stretches of waterfront and adjacent upland acreage. Tonight’s session (the eighth in a series of public discussions dedicated to NWBPCR) will focus on both Reach Three (the stretch of Battery Park City adjacent to Rockefeller Park), and Reach Four (Belvedere Plaza, between Vesey Street and the uptown side of North Cove Marina).
In Reach Three (above), the design team has focused on the construction of a flood barrier aligned at the farthest feasible line east of the waterfront, adjacent to River Terrace. This would include a passive structure with deployable systems at park entrances and pedestrian crossings, as well as wave attenuation measures within the existing park. While this design aims to minimize impacts to the existing Rockefeller Park lawn and its waterfront views, it will likely entail some changes to portions of the park’s grading and the addition of drainage infrastructure, along with some tree clearing and replacement along River Terrace.
In Reach Four, one approach under consideration involves a newly-elevated platform with flood defense components integrated into the design, which would split the Esplanade and adjacent Plaza into two different levels. In this version of the plan, the playground and the surrounding area would be elevated, including the lily pond, which could be replaced with a new water feature. (This concept also envisions the temporary relocation of the ferry terminal roughly one block northward, eventually bringing it back to the current location, near the foot of Vesey Street, once work is complete.) As part of this evening’s meeting, the design team will discuss with attendees these and other potential options for Reaches Three and Four.
In its December meeting, Community Board 1 (CB1) examined these plans and prepared a detailed response to the BPCA’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the North/West Resiliency project. This response was enacted as a resolution by CB1.
Among the reservations CB1 voiced about Reaches Three and Four were “questions centered around preventing the need to rebuild a children’s playground in Reach Three if the flood barrier were instead moved between the play area in question and River Terrace,” and “the design for Reach Four… depicted a water feature replacing what is known as the Lily Pond or Duck Pond, which evoked a significant negative response from much of the committee and community members present.” The Board also raised concern that “there were a large number of attendees who opposed moving the ferry pier northwards.”
The resolution enacted by CB1 reflected that the Board “values the current design and use of the Lily Pond/Duck Pond in Reach Four and believes that this important community amenity can be preserved in the final design of the resiliency project.”
The measure went on to urge “the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the BPCA and Brookfield Properties to come to an agreement to move the ferry terminal south during construction, which appears to be the preferred temporary location for Battery Park City residents.”
The Feb. 8 public meeting began with a brief overview of the project, following which participants joined small group discussions with BPCA planners about design options for the Rockefeller Park and Belvedere Plaza reaches.
“We look forward to this next round of meaningful community engagement about the North/West Battery Park City Resiliency Project,” said BPCA president B.J. Jones. “These reach-specific meetings are intended as working sessions, where attendees can sit side by side with the architects and engineers doing the tough and necessary work of designing protective measures that meet Lower Manhattan’s resiliency needs, while keeping our parks and public spaces vibrant and appealing. We invite everyone with an interest in this important work to attend and be part of this ongoing process.”
For more information about the NWBPCR, please visit bpca.ny.gov/nwbpcr/ or email email@example.com.