Two proposals were set forth recently by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, overseen by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, to enhance the East River Greenway at Pier 42. The plan to develop the site, formerly a banana warehouse, adds another feather to the cap of Manhattan’s ambitious waterfront connection effort. With the help of U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and State Senator Daniel Squadron, Community Board 3 is now $9.8 million closer to the estimated $60 million in total costs. The funding was secured from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.
In discussing the community’s impact on the program diagrams, Noriko Maeda, project manager for Mathews Nielsen, acknowledged the clear objectives of locals. “Everything was developed from the meetings,” Maeda said. Mathews Nielsen associate Greg Leonard added that his firm sees the site as an opportunity for an environmental approach, as indicated by the slew of environmentally friendly terminology. It’s an appropriate response to Community Board 3’s guiding principles, outlined in its 2004 motion to improve the waterfront, to “add more nature.”
The FDR, as is the case with much of the East River esplanade, either severs cross circulation or pinches parallel programming to the point of discomfort. The same is the case with Pier 42, which sits between the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges across the estuary from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “Access is limited to two points, Montgomery Street and Corlears Hook Park,” said Leonard. “The priority is safety and access. Aesthetics is not a primary concern.”
The piers, which were built in the 1950s, will remain in place, having passed structural inspection. The warehouse, however, will be removed, opening this portion of the waterfront to more passive pleasures. “The opportunity is in the directions this design can go,” said Leonard.
This summer, a portion of the parking lot behind the warehouse will be open for public use. “Pier 42 is finally transforming from a blighted, abandoned warehouse into a beautiful open green space for children and families,” said Senator Schumer in a statement. It may be years before Community Board 3 cuts the ribbon to the park, but it is clearly already a special place to locals.