News > News > Preserve River Ecology > Riverkeeper, NY/NJ Baykeeper Call on Hudson River Park Trust To Conduct Full Environmental Review Prior to Approving Pier 55 Project

Riverkeeper, NY/NJ Baykeeper Call on Hudson River Park Trust To Conduct Full Environmental Review Prior to Approving Pier 55 Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Leah Rae, Riverkeeper, (914) 478-4501 ext. 238 or (914) 715-6821

Loss of River Habitat Is Among Many Concerns Over Pier Construction in Hudson River Park Estuarine Sanctuary; Park’s Governing Documents Explicitly Protect Undeveloped Areas

NEW YORK – January 26, 2015 – Riverkeeper and NY/NJ Baykeeper filed comments Friday to the Hudson River Park Trust, calling for a full and transparent environmental review of the proposed Pier 55 project, which would involve the construction of an entirely new pier in an undeveloped area of the river off the West Side of Manhattan.

Despite a wide range of potentially significant environmental impacts from the project – including the loss of valuable river habitat – the Trust has failed to conduct a sufficient review or consider alternatives to avoid or lessen the impacts. The Pier 55 project would raze the existing Pier 54, turning it into a pile field, and construct an entirely new pier, up to seven stories high, in an undisturbed area of the river within the Park that is designated an Estuarine Sanctuary. The Park’s governing documents explicitly protect and preserve undeveloped areas of the river, and generally restrict in-water construction to renovation or repair of existing piers, within their current footprints.

To comply with state law, this project application must undergo a full review before any decisions are made, including the proposed lease on Park Trust land and a proposed amendment to the Park plan. The project will also require permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Riverkeeper has significant concerns about the Park Trust’s effort to accelerate approval of this new pier in the Hudson without careful consideration of its impacts, and opposes the project moving forward without the required review,” said Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River Program Director at Riverkeeper. “The Park Trust must not allow financial pressure to influence its decisionmaking when it comes to building in the Hudson – the river is an invaluable public resource that demands the utmost protection.”

The proposed park and public arts complex would range from a few feet to over seven stories above the water line, and create a 2.7-acre structure resting on at least 577 new pilings in the Hudson River. It would encroach on the existing Pier 56 pile field, a designated “ecological pier.”

Potential impacts include habitat destruction from dredging and pile driving, long-term shading of habitat caused by the pier and an “actors barge,” discharge of stormwater from the development, as well as noise, traffic and visual impacts to the river and surrounding area.

The Park was created with the idea that very little of the Hudson River within the Park’s boundary – the Estuarine Sanctuary – would ever be disturbed. The new pier, estimated to cost over $100 million, would alter a large portion of the 400-acre park and stand in stark contrast to earlier plans for renovating Pier 54, which focused on creating a base for historic ships.

When it passed the Hudson River Park Act, the New York State legislature specifically noted its intention that the Park be managed in a manner that protects the River (“including its role as an aquatic habitat”) while providing “for meaningful public notice, participation, consultation and review.”

Instead, the Trust has prepared an inadequate environmental assessment and skirted any meaningful public participation.

Riverkeeper NYNJ Baykeeper Comments HRPT Pier55 Lease 1_23_15

Riverkeeper is a member-supported watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River and its tributaries and protecting the drinking water supply of 9 million New York City and Hudson Valley residents.

NY/NJ Baykeeper’s mission is to protect, preserve, and restore the ecological integrity and productivity of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary.

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