The legality of Pier 55 was addressed again in court yesterday, as the Hudson River Park Trust and the City Club of New York duked it out in front of the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court in Manhattan over whether or not the futuristic pier park has undergone the necessary rigor before moving forward.
The City Club of New York contends that the park needs to undergo not just a state Environmental Assessment Form, but a full Environmental Impact Statement before construction on the park can proceed.
In June the state supreme court decided to narrow an injunction, allowing nine of 550 piles that would support the park to be driven—a small, but meaningful advancement in the pier’s construction. Now the Hudson River Park Trust and City Club are back in the courts.
The Journal reports that Richard Emery, who’s representing the small civic group, is arguing that the park worked its way around undergoing a more stringent environmental study by "comparing the impact of the new park not with current conditions, but to Pier 54, which no longer exists and which the trust had no intention of rebuilding."
Emery also argued that between the park and Google’s nearby HQ, the area will give way to "mass hysteria," and that the lease the Hudson River Park Trust has agreed on with the pier’s private funder, billionaire Barry Diller, essentially privatizes the public area by giving Diller control over the nonprofit he’ll create to fund the park.
Emery alleges that through the agreement, Diller’s company InterActiveCorp (IAC) would hold any (very lucrative) rights to rebroadcast performances that occur at any of the island’s three performance areas.
The trust’s lawyer, David Paget, didn’t take kindly to that claim, "It’s outrageous. It’s scurrilous to make that assertion." Paget reinforced that all revenue garnered by Pier 55 would go back into the park. Similar to Brooklyn Bridge Park’s contentious housing stock that funds its upkeep, the various piers along Hudson River Park (including Chelsea Piers) help to fund the maintenance of Hudson River Park.
Yesterday, the Times released an article wondering if New York City real estate tycoon Douglas Durst is quietly funding the broke City Club’s legal battle.
The lawyer who’s representing Pier 55 asked the appeals panel to return a decision promptly so as not to waylay the project. Construction season ends in 44 days, and if the decision is issued too late it could push construction on the pier back another year.
When all was said and done in the court room, Diller rode off on a black Vespa in an elegantly captured moment:
Biggest excitement at today's Pier55 hearing was Barry Diller really not wanting to be photographed on his Vespa. Said he was "embarrassed"— Danielle Tcholakian (@danielleiat) September 6, 2016
The Hudson River Park Trust has issued the following statement:
We’re eager to move forward with a spectacular public park that was strongly supported by the local community board and respected civic organizations, and approved by an array of state and federal agencies. We’re confident the court will rule in our favor and we’ll resume construction soon.