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New York Celebrates Waterfront Park

  • Maha Saad

New York's Hudson River Park is about to undergo a surge of construction to mark its 10th anniversary. The 222-hectare park is second in size to Manhattan's Central Park. But unlike Central Park, Hudson River Park celebrates New York's waterfront. VOA Intern Maha Saad reports from New York.

The new construction plans include boathouses, cafés, miniature golf, playgrounds, recreational fields and facilities, and an esplanade offering native grasses, trees, and gardens along with landscaped seating areas.

The Hudson River Park Trust, a partnership between New York City and State charged with the design and maintenance of the open space, was created in 1998. Today, the Park is 40 percent complete. Connie Fishman, the trust's president, outlines some building plans.

"The next several years will be an exciting time for the park with ongoing construction simultaneously in several areas. We are currently completing about $170 million worth of overall construction and another $100 million-plus expected during the next two years," she said.

Diana Taylor, chairwoman of the Hudson River Park Trust, says that the Park is not only about recreation, but also the wildlife of the region.

"The park is also home to everything from anchovies to sea robins and clams, crabs, oysters, and of course, striped bass. While New York City might be best known for its pigeons, Hudson River Park serves as a home, or at least a rest stop, to many species of birds, including American Coot, Bufflehead, and Double-Crested Cormorant to name a few. The beauty of the park is accentuated by its vast assortment of trees. Hudson River Park is home to pines, tupelos, sweetgum, and as many as 11 species of oak," she said.

The latest segment of the park will open in July in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan near the site of the former World Trade Center. Taylor says much of the funding for the segment came from the federal Housing and Urban Development agency, or HUD.

"This segment of the park was completed with a portion of the $70 million in funding provided by HUD and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation as part of the effort to rebuild New York City in the aftermath of 9/11," she said.

Taylor says there is still debate about how to develop two revenue-generating commercial piers within the park. "The park must be self-sustaining as far as its annual operating and maintenance expenses are concerned. To accomplish this, there are several commercial nodes, or places in the park where commercial activity is permitted, so we can charge rent to cover those costs," she said.

In addition to recreation and wildlife, Hudson River Park offers visitors a variety of free entertainment from public art projects to movie nights, concerts, and dancing under the stars.

Park trust officials say 17 million visitors a year now enjoy what the park has to offer.