If you thought the roller coaster that is Pier 55 was over since construction began in November, you may not want to step off the ride just yet. Just yesterday, a federal judge ruled in favor of the City Club of New York, who took legal action against the $200 million Barry Diller-funded offshore park way back in the summer of 2015. As reported by the Times, Judge Lorna G. Schofield agreed with the group’s claim that the Army Corps of Engineers had not conducted a sufficient environmental review on how the 2.4-acre park would affect fish and wildlife. She ordered that work stop at the site and called for a review of alternatives for building along Hudson River Park, a maritime sanctuary.
A brief history of the legal saga: The City Club first served the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) and Pier55 Inc. (the nonprofit manager established by Diller) with a lawsuit in June 2015, which led to a stop work order in June. Shortly thereafter, an appeals court lifted the order, and by the end August, the first nine piles were installed. This past September, a State Appellate court upheld the decision by a lower court, and the following month, after the City Club fought the decision, it was once again upheld by the State Court of Appeals.
Despite all of these court decisions that Pier 55 had conducted an adequate environmental review and was not required to solicit ideas from other developers, along with the fact that the park has the support of Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo, several local elected officials, and the community board, this ruling by a District Court judge is a major setback. The City Club’s lawyer Richard D. Emery said, “In my view, the decision makes it virtually impossible for Pier 55 to proceed.” In response, the Hudson River Park Trust put out a statement: “We have won four challenges in four courts and are deeply disappointed by this decision. We are reviewing the ruling to determine next steps.”
Neighborhoods : Meatpacking District