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No Party Boats at Pier A, Battery Park City Residents Say

The new public plaza that will surround Pier A, which residents worry could become overrun with tourists.
The new public plaza that will surround Pier A, which residents worry could become overrun with tourists.
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Rogers Marvel Architects

LOWER MANHATTAN — Don't bring the party to Pier A.

That's what Battery Park City residents told officials Tuesday night, after hearing that a new oyster bar and catering hall under construction at the historic Downtown pier would serve as a launch point for dinner cruises and other boat excursions several times a week starting next summer.

The residents worried that party boats would bring noise and pollution to their neighborhood, and also expressed fear that hordes of tourists drawn to the cruises would overcrowd the new public plaza encircling Pier A.

"A tourist-friendly amenity creates [a space that is] resident-unfriendly," said Jeff Galloway, co-chairman of Community Board 1's Battery Park City Committee.

"I would hate to see this little jewel of a space be thrown in with Battery Park, be akin to the South Street Seaport…and become resident-hostile."

Gwen Dawson, senior vice president of asset management for the Battery Park City Authority, which is repairing the 126-year-old landmarked pier, replied that she would discuss the community's concerns with Pier A's developers, who include the Poulakakos family.

Dawson added that the boat trips would only take place two to three days a week, and they would likely include wedding parties as well as ticketed sunset cruises leaving from the south and west sides of the pier. The boats would not dock at Pier A for extended periods of time, she noted.

Residents asked how the authority would handle crowds coming on and off the boats, and whether the authority would limit the vessels to those that have low emissions.

"Our concern is that you put more strain on that open space than we had ever anticipated," said Anthony Notaro, a CB1 member and Battery Park City resident. "That's really an issue."

A representative of the Poulakakos family did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

The residents raised concerns about the boats Tuesday night after getting an early glimpse of designs for the 34,000-square-foot public plaza around Pier A, which is one of the main community amenities in the public-private development of the pier.

Rogers Marvel Architects presented plans for a lushly landscaped plaza that includes a curved wall of pin oak trees, a large central gathering space for markets and food festivals, benches and movable seating along the water, and white stones set into the pavement marking Manhattan's changing shoreline.

"You can start to understand how the water line was moving out and Manhattan was expanding," said Scott Demel, an associate at Rogers Marvel.

Pier A opened in 1886 as the headquarters for the New York Harbor Police and Department of Docks, before later serving as an FDNY fireboat station and workshop. It has sat vacant and closed to the public for more than a decade. 

The Battery Park City Authority expects to complete its repairs to the crumbling pier by the end of the year, and then the developers will begin building out its $18 million interior, including an oyster bar, a catering hall, a sitdown restaurant and a tourist information center.

The historic pier building and the new plaza are both scheduled to open in the summer or early fall of 2013.