Opponents of the Resiliency Plan Rally as BPCA Plans Imminent
Closure and Revamp of Park
On August 16, people gathered in Wagner Park to rally for changes to the resiliency plan.
As the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) prepares to close Wagner Park for two years (starting in early December), to implement a redesign that aims to make the green space safe against rising sea levels and storm surges, opponents of the plan are mobilizing to stop it. A rally held on August 16 by the Save Wagner Park organization attracted a small crowd of supporters.
Neighborhood resident and Green Ivy Schools founder Jennifer Jones said, “we will not tolerate being run over by a developer mentality. We need to get active and get involved and be part of the conversation that we should have been part of five years ago.”
The August 16 rally was also attended by members of organizations opposed to similar park redesign projects on the Lower East Side and Governors Island, which have been motivated by resiliency concerns.
Hours before the rally, the BPCA announced modifications to the Wagner Park design, which will increase lawn area for the project by 12,800 square feet. The BPCA says this revision represents a 74 percent increase in lawn space compared to the earlier design. The additional lawn space was achieved by reducing a portion of the space allocated to gardens under the prior plan, as well as nearly 7,000 square feet of hardscape, which was originally included to ensure universal accessibility throughout the elevated portion of the park. The revised design will also provide for the addition of 10 trees, for a total net increase of 126 trees compared to current conditions. The plan will entail demolishing the existing pavilion, with its picturesque arch, forming a frame through which to view the harbor and Statue of Liberty, and elevate the park by almost 20 feet, while burying a flood wall beneath the newly created terraces.
The planned new pavilion is slated to include a similar frame through which to view the harbor, public restrooms, a restaurant (significantly larger than the current eatery), and a publicly accessible roof. A BPCA spokesman points out that “the new building will also be carbon neutral and include a community room and green roof. Since it is placed on an elevated lawn, the building will have an additional floor below ground, which will be used for horticulture, maintenance, and programming needs,” as well as additional space for the restaurant. The BPCA argues that this additional commercial space will eliminate the need for the current large tent on Wagner’s public lawn, which creates additional dining space for the restaurant.
This double rendering provided by the BPCA shows the revised design of the future Wagner Park on the right. The lawn area will now be increased by 12,800 square feet, a 74 percent increase compared to the previous design on the left.
“Throughout the nearly six-year development of the South Battery Park City Resiliency Project, we’ve worked hard to balance the urgency of creating a more resilient Battery Park City and Lower Manhattan with the importance of incorporating community voices,” said BPCA president B.J. Jones. “We’ve been able to significantly expand lawn space, in addition to other modifications we’ve made over the course of this initiative, without losing momentum to provide critical protection against catastrophic storms.”
The Save Wagner Park group charges that the BPCA is using outdated climate data and projections to justify the Wagner Park project, which is slated to cost $221 million. This appears to be partially correct, in that the Authority’s modeling is predicated, to a limited extent, on 2013 and 2015 models from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that were later disputed and determined to be faulty. But the BPCA’s plans for Wagner Park rely primarily on 2019 data from the New York City Panel on Climate Change. This set of measurements and predictions is widely regarded as the gold standard for local modeling.
In a 10-page response to community concerns about the Wanger Park plan, issued in June, BPCA president Jones noted that the Authority has hosted 18 public meetings during the planning process, starting in 2016.
On May 27, Tammy Meltzer, chair of Community Board 1 (CB1) and Alice Blank (CB1’s co-chair, who also presides over the Board’s Environmental Protection Committee) wrote to Mr. Jones, outlining multiple ongoing concerns about the Wagner Park plan. “While we support the need for resiliency in Lower Manhattan, CB1 has repeatedly questioned the need to raze the park and pavilion and is on record opposing this approach,” Ms. Meltzer and Ms. Blank wrote.
“It is crucial that the public has a full understanding of the SBPCR plan, the implications for its implementation, and impacts during phases of construction,” Ms. Meltzer and Ms. Blank continued. They also urged the BPCA to supply “a plan showing the pedestrian, bike and car traffic flow to better understand exactly what will, and will not, be available to the public for the next two years.”
Reacting to the August 16 news of expansion of the lawn area, Ms. Meltzer said, “We hope these improvements to the public realm will continue to influence the discussions about the Pavilion/new building and how it may best serve Lower Manhattan residents, workers and tourists.”
The August 16 rally concluded with speakers from Save Wagner Park alluding to the possibility of legal action to prevent the BPCA from commencing demolition. Thus far, no such lawsuit has been filed.
Editor’s note: At press time, another rally hosted by the Save Wagner Park organization is being scheduled for 5pm on September 7 at Wagner Park.
To the editor,
“Save Wagner Park” is catchy. But the reality is that glacier melting in Greenland alone (https://time.com/6209385/greenland-melting-ice-sea-level-rise/) will increase sea levels by 10 inches, and we can expect more from Antarctica and elsewhere. We desperately need measures to ameliorate the effects of greenhouse warming in Lower Manhattan, and the effort to raise barriers in Wagner Park, even if it requires closing the park for some time, is essential The people that oppose this are obviously wrong, and retrograde to the requirements to keep Manhattan, and particularly, Lower Manhattan safe in the face of inexorable climate change.
Eyes to the Sky, September 6-20, 2022
Great Bear, Little Bear, and North Star
As darkness gathers on early September evenings, the Big Dipper appears in the northwest, about 30 degrees above the horizon. Composed of the brightest stars of the Great Bear, Ursa Major, an ancient constellation, the Big Dipper is an asterism, a star pattern made up of stars of one or more constellations. The bowl stars, Dubhe, 1.79 magnitude, and Merak, 1.80m, termed pointer stars, are guides to the pivotal, though dimmer, Polaris, 1.98m and 48th in luminosity. Polaris is commonly referred to as the North Star or Pole Star. Always in its place, it is useful to know for orientation to location anywhere. To find it, eyeball the distance between Dubhe and Merak, then count about five lengths out from these pointer stars. You will discover Polaris.
The Great Bear’s tail is also a guide: follow the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper to “arc to Arcturus,” a red giant star with an orange hue. Arcturus, minus 0.06m, is the 4th brightest star visible with the naked eye and brightest in the summer sky. Also known as the “Guardian of the Bear,” Arcturus sets in the west at 11:22pm on the 6th, and earlier each successive night.
Returning to Polaris, we find that the star marks the tip of the handle of a rather dim asterism, the Little Dipper. On clear nights in the absence of light pollution, or with binoculars or a telescope, find a second magnitude star, Kochab, 2.08m, at the bottom left of the Little Dipper’s bowl, and top left, Pherkad, 3.00m. The Lesser or Little Bear, Ursa Minor, contains the Little Dipper within: Polaris at the tip of its tail, the bowl of the dipper outlined in stars. Scan the sky to the left of Polaris.
The image of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, is by Sydney Hall (1788 – 1831). It is Plate 9 in Urania’s Mirror 1825, a set of celestial cards. Notice three bright stars on the tail followed, to the right, by four bright stars that form a rectangle. These seven brightest stars outline the handle and bowl of the Big Dipper, an asterism within the Great Bear constellation. Image courtesy of Wikipedia: Featured Pictures. Top image courtesy of EarthSky.org.
Lower Manhattan Picks a New Member of Congress, and Returns a State Senator to Albany
Preliminary results from the August 23 primary election point to likely victors in the races to represent Lower Manhattan in the U.S. Congress (Dan Goldman, above right) and the New York State Senate (Brian Kavanagh, above left). Read more.
Observe and sketch the human figure. Each week a model will strike short and long poses for participants to draw. An artist/educator will offer constructive suggestions and critique. Drawing materials provided, and artists are encouraged to bring their own favorite media. Free.
Take a self guided tour of the tall ship Wavertree, and visit the 12 Fulton Street galleries to view the exhibitions “South Street and the Rise of New York,” “Millions: Migrants and Millionaires aboard the Great Liners,” and a special Eric Carle children’s exhibit. Through Sunday. Free.
The Wetlab aquarium features Hudson River wildlife and provides guided tours for visitors of all ages. During Wetlab Look-ins, you can join a drop-in tour led by our River Project team to learn more about fascinating local wildlife including oyster toadfish, lined seahorses and blue crabs. Free.
Reading. A perfect storm of comedic proportions erupts in a DC bookstore over the course of one soggy summer week–narrated by two very different women and punctuated by political turmoil, a celestial event, and a perpetually broken vacuum cleaner.
Detroit-born, Berlin-based troubadour Daniel Kahn’s music mixes Yiddish, English, Russian, and German with a distinctly punk and folk flavor. The Museum’s welcomes Kahn to the stage with his friends Jake Shulman-Ment, Sarah Gordon, Lorin Sklamberg, and others for an evening of songs that cross the borders of languages, cultures, generations, and worlds. Experience Daniel Kahn’s return to the US with his bag full of broken ballads, crooked klezmer, prison laments, revolutionary hymns, and apocalyptic blues. $10 suggested donation.
Today in History
Lusitania arrives at Pier 54 in New York City.
1571 – Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, is arrested for his role in the Ridolfi plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I of England and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots.
1776 – According to American colonial reports, Ezra Lee makes the world’s first submarine attack in the Turtle, attempting to attach a time bomb to the hull of HMS Eagle in New York Harbor (no British records of this attack exist).
1857 – Mormon settlers in Utah kill most members of peaceful, emigrant wagon train.
1907 – Cunard Line’s RMS Lusitania sets sail on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England, to New York City.
1911 – French poet Guillaume Apollinaire is arrested and put in jail on suspicion of stealing the Mona Lisa from the Louvre museum.
1927 – The first fully electronic television system is achieved by Philo Farnsworth.
1940 – In World War II, the German Luftwaffe begins the Blitz, bombing London and other British cities for over 50 consecutive nights.
1978 – While walking across Waterloo Bridge in London, Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov is assassinated by Bulgarian secret police agent Francesco Gullino by means of a ricin pellet fired from a specially-designed umbrella.
1996 – Rap artist Tupac Shakur shot multiple times in Las Vegas, dies 6 days later.
2014 – Asteroid 2014 RC makes a close approach to Earth (24,800 mi)
2021 – Texas Governor Greg Abbott signs law restricting voting rights in the state, including limiting use of drop boxes and empowering partisan observers.
923 – Suzaku, emperor of Japan (d. 952)
1533 – Elizabeth I Tudor, Queen of England and Ireland (1558-1603) and daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn (d. 1603)
1860 – Grandma Moses, American painter (d. 1961)
1867 – J. P. Morgan Jr., American banker and philanthropist (d. 1943)
1912 – David Packard, co-founded Hewlett-Packard (d. 1996)
1930 – Sonny Rollins, American saxophonist and composer
1936 – Buddy Holly, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1959)
1202 – William of the White Hands, French cardinal (b. 1135)
1362 – Joan of the Tower (b. 1321)
1601 – John Shakespeare, father of William Shakespeare (b. 1529)
1951 – John French Sloan, American painter and etcher (b. 1871)
1978 – Keith Moon, drummer, (b. 1946)
2003 – Warren Zevon, singer-songwriter and musician, dies at 56
2021 – Phil Schaap, jazz historian, DJ, author and educator, dies of cancer at 70
Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8am-3pm (compost program: Saturdays, 8am-1pm)
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Broadway & Whitehall St
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8am-5pm (compost program: 8am-11am)
World Trade Center Oculus Greenmarket
The Outdoor Fulton Stall Market
91 South Street, between Fulton & John Streets
Indoor market: Monday through Saturday,11:30am-5pm