Community Board Likes Pier55 Floating Park Overall, but Wants More Transparency

January 9, 2015

It’s been relatively quiet over the past six weeks or so as far as news about the proposed offshore park and performance space in the Hudson River known as Pier55. But this week, Community Board 2’s Parks and Waterfront Committee reviewed the project, and though they liked Thomas Heatherwick’s design overall, they cited their main concern as transparency.

The board’s issue stems from the fact that billionaire media mogul Barry Diller, who committed $130 million to the 2.7-acre park, and the Hudson River Park Trust had been working secretively for two years on the plans. According to Curbed, committee member Arthur Schwartz said, “Probably the main public critique of this project has been the way that so much of the design was developed in infinite detail before it even became a matter of public knowledge.”

Pier 55, Heatherwick Studio, Barry Diller, floating park

As far as the futuristic design goes, though, most seemed pretty content, even calling the floating park an extension of the High Line (also majorly funded by Diller and his wife Diane von Furstenberg). Some residents voiced concerns about how the park would be seen from the shore, but new renderings of the vantage point addressed the street-level view.

Pier 55, Hudson River Park Trust, Barry Diller

Along with the lack of transparency, which park insiders said was not their intention, the issue of funding also came up. The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation will fund the park for 20 years, and maybe an additional ten, but no financial plan is in place after that. Madelyn Wils, president and CEO of the Trust assured the Board that “section three of the lease includes an agreement that monies will be secured regardless of what happens to Barry Diller.”

Pier 55, Hudson River Park Trust, Barry Diller

The committee was planning to arrive on a resolution at Wednesday’s meeting, but ran out of time and will do so through email before the full community board meets. It will likely include notes about how the trust should include the public in future design scenarios (though a similar situation is highly unlikely) and how the community will be involved in the process moving forward.

[Related: Barry Diller Pledges $130M for Futuristic Offshore Park on the West Side]

[Related: Thomas Heatherwick Reveals the Inspiration Behind Pier 55 Floating Park]

[Via Curbed]

Renderings via Heatherwick Studio

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