Friday, April 8, 2016

Diller Island Pier 55 Lawsuit Dismissed

The Hudson River Park Trust is proposing to build a $ 170 million dollar park and entertainment complex between 13/14th Street in the West Village. The Trust may have finally found a solution for the crumbling Pier 54 delema - get a billionaire to foot the bill and exclude the public from having any say.  The proposed Pier 55 project would be built between the soon-to-be-demolished Pier 54 and the already demolished Pier 56. 

The Barry Diller-Diane von Furstenberg Family Foundation will contribute $ 130 million dollars to design and build the off-shore pier then lease it from the park trust for 20 years.   The city and state are contributing $39 million for construction.  The nonprofit Pier55 Inc. will run the pier’s programming and fund day-to-day operations. The crumbling Pier 54, which juts 875 feet into the Hudson River will be demolished and replaced by a 2.4 acre off-shore park and performance spaces according to the plan.    (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)


By Geoffrey Croft

The Hudson River Park Trust and Barry Diller's secret plan to build a massive park and entertainment complex passed it first legal hurdle on Thursday when State Supreme Court  Justice Joan B. Lobis dismissed the lawsuit ruling the 
claims were "without merit."

"It would appear that a significant purpose of maintaining event spaces in the Park is to generate funds for the ongoing upkeep of the Park, which is surely a park purpose,"  Judge Lobis bizarrely ruled.

The complaint was filed by the City Club last summer New York Supreme Court alleging that HRPT violated the Public Trust Doctrine, illegally alienated public parkland,  and "presided over a rushed and secretive process, prejudiced by outdated analyses and false comparisons that failed to comport with the basic requirements of New York State and New York City environmental laws," according to the suit.

Rob Buchanan, Co-Chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee of the NY/NJ Harbor & Estuary Program,  and Tom Fox, co-founder of  Friends of Hudson River Park, and former president of HRPT are named plaintiffs in the suit.

The $170 million plan was finally announced in November 2014 after negotiating with Mr. Diller and on Furstenberg for two years according to court documents.

Shortly after the announcement a confused Madelyn Wills, president and CEO of the Hudson River Park Trust attempted to get around a reporter's question regarding whether the deal was done behind closed doors.  Ms. Wills misrepresented and claimed that the issue was discussed with many in the community including elected officials and contradicts herself all in a matter of seconds in the brief interview.

"The funding of this, although discussed with many in the community and many electeds was obviously a funding agreement is (sic) done not in the public…." Ms. Wills told WCBS.    

"The Trust also said they kept and elected officials and community leaders apprized during the process," WCBS's Dick Brennan reported.

Area representative State Assemblymember Deborah Glick had a very different view on that subject according to the New York Times.  

" is deeply disturbing that the trust failed until now to disclose what it is doing,” she said in the November 17, 2014 article.

Elected officials weren't the only ones left in the dark.  Several members of the Trust's own Advisory Council also expressed not knowing as well.

This rendering of the proposed Pier 55, which will be built between the soon-to-be-demolished Pier 54 and the already demolished Pier 56, calls for undulating lawns and an amphitheater.
Proposed Diller Island (Renderings: Heatherwick Studio) 

Read More:

$ 170 Mil. Secret Pier 55 Deal: Barry Diller To Create Park & Entertainment Complex
A Walk In The Park - November 17, 2014 - By Geoffrey Croft

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