The process of designing the new eight-acre Pier 42 park got underway last night as Lower East Side community members, representatives from various city organizations, and Signe Nielsen of landscape architecture firm Mathews Nielsen convened to brainstorm a list of what the community wanted for their new park, and what they did not. Nielsen emphasized that during this meeting they were simply putting together a wish list, repeating, "Tonight, let's just dream." For a moment we allowed ourselves to hope that a "no bad ideas in brainstorming" frenzy might take over—Giant panda enclosure! Twenty-four seven fireworks! Human foosball table!—but, alas, the community members limited their suggestions to reasonable, realistic park elements that would benefit the highest percentage of residents and be usable year-round.
Nielsen started things off with a PowerPoint presentation where she outlined a few of the elements that she'd determined to be desirable based on preliminary outreach. Those included open spaces, green space, habitat diversity, public sports venues, something that incorporated the water, a local artists/farmers market, and something to buffer the FDR. (She also mentioned that the pier itself is in very poor condition and would need to be either restored, eroded, or some combination of the two.) In general, her preliminary research appeared to be pretty accurate, as community members requested, among other things, more green space, some sort of open field, a public rec center-type building (to protect against the elements and be usable in the winter), natural-looking wildlife, and a place to get snacks. Ultimately, the ideas were wide-ranging and too numerous to list, but the upshot is this: There will be a park. It will have stuff. Get excited! There will be a Waterfront Community Day on November 4, and the next public meeting will occur on November 28.