By Nicole Breskin
CHELSEA — The planned fall opening of the second section of the High Line has been pushed back to 2011, officials said Thursday.
The park’s second stretch — running from 20th to 30th streets — was slated to open later this year after the initial section debuted last summer.
But Parks Department and High Line officials say that date could be pushed back to as late as the spring or summer of 2011.
"Scheduling construction projects is never a perfect science," said Kate Lindquist, a spokesperson for the nonprofit Friends of the High Line, which oversees maintenance and management of the park.
"A recent review of the construction schedule shows that Section 2 will open in spring 2011."
She added that construction of the second section is already fully funded.
“Fundraising is the biggest challenge,” said Joshua David, cofounder of Friends of the High Line, about the park's reliance on private donations. “In the toughest fundraising year, in the 2009 calendar year, we expanded our staff and our budget. It’s an ongoing issue, but I’m eager and optimistic.”
“Great parks don’t come for free,” added Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe of the fundraising efforts. “This park had a huge private investment.”
The news came as the Parks Department, which handles security and some maintenance for the park, marked the High Line’s 2 millionth visitor by the planting an eastern red bud tree near the park’s Gansevoort Street entrance Thursday afternoon. The number of visitors is an estimate based on park rangers’ counts, Friend of the High Line said.
Construction has continued on the second section during past six months, with work being completed on the park’s “great lawn” and a “woodland tree-top canopy walk,” officials noted.
“There will be a diverse set of experiences,” Benepe said at the event. “The High Line is and will continue to be one of the world’s most unusual parks.”
The event saw speeches by Benepe and City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden, as well as Congressman Jerrold Nadler.
“The High Line, a symbol of New York’s great past as a transportation and manufacturing hub, has become a spectacular resource for New Yorkers and visitors to this great city to enjoy and admire,” Nadler said.
City Speaker Christine Quinn added in a statement: “The High Line has really raised the bar of what park space can be.”
Friend of the High Line is currently working to secure $50 million in private funding for additional capital costs. So far, approximately $44 million has been raised.
The funds are expected to meet construction costs for the second section and build an endowment for the High Line’s maintenance and operations.
The Parks Department estimates the total cost of the High Line is $152 million.
The first of the High Line’s three sections, running from Gansevoort to 20th streets, opened in June 2009. The third section, which extends up to the Western Rail yards development site, is currently undergoing the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure to allow the park to acquire the remaining rail tracks.