Calls for a New Park on the East River

New York Times | February 21, 2008

By Anthony Ramirez

Federal, state and city officials joined several civic organizations today to express support for a new four-acre waterfront park that would be built in the shadow of the United Nations and cost as much as $100 million, but the project faces considerable logistical and financial hurdles.

The park would be at the northern end of Glick Park, at 36th Street and Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive in Manhattan, where decaying concrete is blocked off by a gate and a fence with barbed wire. The area, which houses a now-defunct Consolidated Edison, is one of the largest parcels in Manhattan facing redevelopment in the next few years.

City Councilman Daniel R. Garodnick, whose district includes the East River waterfront area, told reporters Thursday morning that this was an ideal time to press for park development. He said an aging off-ramp towering over the proposed park needed to be rebuilt as part of the overall reconstruction of the F.D.R. Drive.

But he also conceded that park development would be complex because the site was close to the United Nations. Concerns over security from terrorist attacks would have to be resolved, a large private parcel across the street from the site might make access difficult, and the park would have to be planned as part of an overall development plan for the area, which was formerly owned a giant Consolidated Edison plant.

Cost estimates vary between $80 million and $100 million for the waterfront park, said Mr. Garodnick, a Democrat. He said his City Council district, which covers part of Midtown Manhattan, had the least park space per capita of any in the city.

Mr. Garodnick was less precise as to where the money would come from. "For the question about who would pay, we expect it will be a combination of forces," he said. "We have a lot of activity that is happening in this neighborhood right now. There’s lots of redevelopment, lots of reconstruction. This is an opportunity for the city, and for the state and the federal government to come together and say we want to elevate people over cars."

Also attending the event were Representative Carolyn B. Maloney and State Senators Thomas K. Duane and Liz Krueger, and representatives from organizations like the Municipal Art Society and Transportation Alternatives.