Will the Fat Lady Sing for Wagner Pavilion?

The existing Wagner Park pavilion, which may be demolished and replaced under a BPCA plan to create resiliency measures for the southern tip of Battery Park City.

The existing Wagner Park pavilion, which may be demolished and replaced under a BPCA plan to create resiliency measures for the southern tip of Battery Park City.

The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) and Community Board 1 will co-host a public meeting about resiliency plans for the southern section of Battery Park City, around Wagner Park, tomorrow (Tuesday, March 12), starting at 6:00 pm, at Six River Terrace, next to Le Pain Quotidien and opposite the Irish Hunger Memorial.
This session will include updates about evolving aspects of these plans (such as the fate of the pavilion building, which may be demolished), as well as opportunities for comments and questions from residents.

Recent developments on this project have included a BPCA board meeting held last summer, at which Authority officials indicated there may yet be an opportunity to revise the controversial proposal to demolish the pavilion, but also signaled that the potential scope of such modification appears to be limited.

At the July 24 Authority board meeting, Gwen Dawson, the Authority’s vice president for real property, reviewed the recent hiring of civil engineering firm AECOM, to implement the plan developed over the past three years by the architectural firm of Perkins Eastman.

 

The most contentious aspect of this design is a proposal to demolish the the current Wagner Park pavilion, and replace it with a multi-story structure that will also have a roof deck. These enhancements, along with the elimination of the arched passageway that provides a framed view of the Statue of Liberty in the current structure, would enable an expansion from the pavilion’s present size of 7,825 square feet to as much as 17,000 square feet. Under this plan, the restaurant space within the structure, which currently houses Gigino’s, would grow from the current 3,450 square feet to as much as 10,000 square feet.

 

As Ms. Dawson outlined the qualifications of AECOM to implement the plan devised by Perkins Eastman, BPCA board member Martha Galloasked, “is the assumption that this resiliency plan should include the replacement for the pavilion? Is that still up for discussion? Or is that going to be part of this set of optional designs?”

Ms. Dawson answered, “we will discuss that. There were certain conclusions drawn during the assessment project. Those will be revisited to an extent. So there will be an opportunity to raise questions and to request additional explanation or clarification as to what is required. Nothing that we have done thus far with this Perkins portion of the project is set in stone. But we will be taking — using that as a baseline to go forward.”

Ms. Gallo then asked, “and what’s the mechanism to keep the community engaged and up to date on the discussions?”

 

A conceptual rendering of the larger structure that might to take the place of the current pavilion, which has inspired spirited opposition among community leaders, who fear that the larger edifice will block the view and mar the landscape of the park.

 

“There’s a very extensive community engagement portion of the process,” Ms. Dawson explained. “It’s spelled out in great detail and was a significant part of the selection process and evaluation process, as to keeping the community involved, and engaged, and communicated with on a regular basis in a variety of formats.”

To what extent this consultation with the community will allow for modifications of the plan to demolish the pavilion, which has inspired opposition from local leaders, is not clear.
But Ms. Dawson’s use of the phrases, “revisited to an extent,” and, “nothing… is set in stone,” appeared to imply at least some flexibility on this point.

 

This exchange was followed by an introductory public meeting hosted by the BPCA in November, at which engineers from AECOM (and three other consulting firms, which have been hired as subcontractors) presented a preliminary overview of planning for Wagner Park, explaining that the scope of the project was, “the creation of a continuous flood barrier from the Museum of Jewish Heritage, through Wagner Park, across Pier A Plaza, and along the northern border of Historic Battery Park,” as far as State Street. They also noted that construction on this project is slated to begin in 2019, and projected to be complete in 2022.

The November public meeting was followed by a resolution from Community Board 1 (CB1), enacted in December. This measure noted that, “Wagner park is home to the award-winning landscape design by landscape architect Laurie Olin and award-winning park pavilion designed by Machado Silvetti Architects,” and observed that, “at Wagner Park’s opening in 1996, architecture critic Paul Goldberg called [its] 3-1/2 acres ‘one of the finest public spaces New York has seen in at least a generation.'”

The resolution also called upon the BPCA to, “develop several flood protection proposals for this area, including options that do not destroy the existing cultural resources such as Wagner Park or the Battery Bikeway,” and urged the Authority to, “leave Wagner Park Pavilion restaurant and its water-side landscape intact.”

Comments

  1. Betty Reeder says

    As an annual visitor to the RC, rebranded the Wagner, I am in favor of leaving the Wagner Park Pavilion and restaurant as is!!

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