News > News > Preserve River Ecology > Riverkeeper Statement on Hudson River Park Trust Approval of Pier 55 Project Lease & Park Plan Amendment

Riverkeeper Statement on Hudson River Park Trust Approval of Pier 55 Project Lease & Park Plan Amendment


Leah Rae, Riverkeeper; Ossining ((914) 478-4501 ext. 238) or Mobile ((914) 715-6821)

OSSINING, N.Y. – February 12, 2015 – Yesterday’s vote by the Board of the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) approving a lease and park plan amendment for the proposed Pier 55 public arts complex fails to address environmental impacts and ignores significant public concerns about the process and nature of the project, in violation of New York State environmental law and the Park Trust Act itself. Riverkeeper and its partner organizations are weighing a range of legal options to halt this process until the required steps are taken to address river impacts and local concerns related to building an entirely new structure in the Hudson River.

Despite being pitched as a replacement of the deteriorating Pier 54, the Pier 55 project in fact envisions a new 2.7-acre pier – or “island” – rising up to seven stories above the water line, which will rest on 577 new piles driven into the Hudson River. This new pier will permanently destroy untouched river habitat that has been designated by New York State as an Estuarine Sanctuary that is supposed to be managed in a way that protects water uses and habitat. As envisioned, this proposal will result in years of construction impacts, the direct discharge into the Hudson River of significant amounts of stormwater, and a permanent shift away from water access, use, or historic preservation.

In addition to dismissing environmental impacts on the river, the HRPT also failed to consider alternative locations for Pier 55 that could result in fewer impacts, such as the original footprint of Pier 54, and utterly failed to respond to local residents’ concerns about noise and visual impacts from the construction and operation of Pier 55 on Manhattan’s waterfront. The Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) – relied on by the HRPT in claiming that no significant impacts will ensue – contains numerous inaccuracies and incomplete analyses, and is largely premised on unrealistic baselines and an inapplicable, nearly 20-year-old study of the Park.

The HRPT, in public statements on the proposal, touts the length of their EAF, instead of addressing the detailed and substantive concerns reflected in comments filed by Riverkeeper and NY/NJ Baykeeper in January which called for a full and transparent environmental review of the project through a complete Environmental Impact Statement.

In speaking to this faulty review process, every elected official giving testimony at the public hearing for Pier 55 also called for a full environmental review – a request that went unheeded by the HRPT when it made its decision yesterday to amend the Park Plan and issue the Pier 55 Lease.

“If the Park Trust were proposing to clear cut three acres of Central Park’s woodlands, you can be sure a thorough, full environmental review would be required,” said Sean Dixon, Staff Attorney for Riverkeeper’s Hudson River Program. “The Trust’s claim that building this new pier in the Hudson River will not cause any impacts does not pass the straight-face test – as a result, Riverkeeper will take all steps necessary to ensure that the Estuarine Sanctuary and the Hudson River are afforded the level of protection and review required by law.”

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.


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