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Old Posted Oct 27, 2017, 9:24 PM
TowerDude TowerDude is offline
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Cuomo Says Barry Diller's Controversial Park On The Hudson Is Back ON
Just over a month after billionaire Barry Diller withdrew his controversial proposal for a $250 million park and performance venue in the Hudson River near 14th Street, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that he's managed to broker a compromise between warring parties and resurrect the project.
In exchange, the Governor said, he will invest state money to complete the full five mile length of Hudson River Park by the end of his second term, assuming he's reelected. That project has been stalled for years, according to advocates who have sued to block the floating park.

"I have spoken to the parties involved in the lawsuit against Pier 55 and expressed my belief that cooperative efforts to complete the overall park are more constructive than litigation and stalemate," Cuomo stated. "I believe all parties have a higher goal and desire that the park should be completed, and can be completed, in the near future."

"It is my hope that if the people of the State of New York grant me an additional term of office, that the park should be completed in that time period," Cuomo added.

The plan for Pier 55, initially approved by the city in February 2015, came from Diller and his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenburg. The couple planned to kick in $113 million to install 300 columns in the Hudson, designed to support a suspended, 2.5 acre park. Additional costs would fall to taxpayers, with funding for maintaining the park expected to come from concert proceeds.

The City Club first sued to block Diller's park in 2015, arguing that the Hudson River Park Trust failed to provide adequate time for public comment, engaged in a harried environmental review process for a project located in a protected estuary, and "violated the public trust doctrine by alienating public parkland to Pier55, Inc., a private entity."

The City Club is reportedly funded by real estate magnate Douglas Durst, who was a supporter of the nonprofit Friends of Hudson River Park, which raises funds for the Hudson River Park Trust, until he was "pushed out," the Times reports, in 2011.

"I applaud the Governor for his leadership, vision and achievements in rebuilding New York State and his commitment to Hudson River Park," Durst stated Wednesday.

Attorney Richard Emery, who represents the City Club, told Gothamist that "the stars aligned."

"It was well worth giving up our opposition, not withstanding our objections, if the ultimate goal here... could be obtained: finishing the park and protecting the estuary," he said.

"The park has languished for 20 years," he added. "It's been a disaster. And now we have a commitment to finish it."

Last month, Diller indicated to the New York Times that City Club showed no sign of giving up, and that the whole shebang wasn't worth it.

"Because of the huge escalating costs and the fact it would have been a continuing controversy over the next three years I decided it was no longer viable for us to proceed," he said.

His tune has since changed. "In the last month, I have been the recipient of so much importuning, from so many people, all with the same sentiment: they all express their hope that we not give up and instead find some way to proceed with building Pier 55," Diller claimed today, in a Cuomo-issued press release.

"I'm going to make one last attempt to revive the plans to build the Park, so that the intended beneficiaries of our endeavor can fall in love with Pier 55 in the way all of us have," he added.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's name was not mentioned in today's triumphant announcement. He reportedly attempted to resolve the dispute and save Diller's project back in July. Asked about today's news, de Blasio said in a statement, "This development is a crucial step forward in the path toward making Pier 55 a reality. I applaud Mr. Diller's philanthropy and steadfast vision in offering our city such a tremendous public space. My administration stands by ready to assist all those involved in making this project happen."
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