A group of lower Manhattan residents held a rally to stop a $220 million project that they say will ruin a popular Hudson River waterfront.
The so-called reconstruction of Wagner Park, found at the very southern tip of Manhattan, will come at a cost of more than 100 trees and the loss of acres of landscaped lawns, according to a local neighborhood association.
The Battery Park City Authority had been planning on stating the resiliency project come September, which the agency said is designed to provide urgently needed flood risk reduction for that vulnerable section of Manhattan. But those who live in the area say the plan goes far beyond that, paving over important public space.
"It will tear up 112 trees, tear up all the grass that you see, reduce green space up to 50 percent," said Britni Erez, the founding board member of the Battery Park Neighborhood Association.
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Wagner Park is also a daily space for local children and students attending at least two nearby schools — the founder of which said she felt left out of the process.
"We knew the city was addressing resiliency, but no one knew the depth of the planning, no one knew the intention to demolish Wagner park," said Jennifer Jones, founder of Battery Park Montessori and Pine Street School. "Because trust me, if the schools had known, there would have been pushback a long time ago."
Concerned residents also sent letters and signed a petition. Just before Tuesday evening's rally, the BPCA announced a new proposal that they said would add more trees and increase lawn area for the project by almost 13,000 square feet.
But parkgoers said they still need to have their say.
"This community really cherishes this park, and they also cherish process and participation. So we are not going to just stand by and let an organization that has no buy-in or stake whatsoever, doesn't even live here, make decisions that impact us and our families forever," Jones said.
Construction on the park is still expected to start after Labor Day in September. The park could be closed for up to two years.