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Foes of Barry Diller-Funded Park Appeal Ruling in Favor of the Project

By Danielle Tcholakian | September 22, 2016 5:11pm
 A peninsula at the southern end of Pier55.
A peninsula at the southern end of Pier55.
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Pier55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio

MEATPACKING DISTRICT — The opponents of the $130 million Barry Diller-funded island park being built off Hudson River Park filed a motion with the state's highest court on Thursday seeking to appeal the Appellate Division's ruling against them.

READ MORE: Barry Diller-Funded Park Can Proceed After Court's Approval

The motion, filed by Richard Emery, lawyer for plaintiffs City Club of New York, Tom Fox and Rob Buchanan, seeks to persuade the New York State Court of Appeals to take up their case arguing that the project known as Pier55 is an unauthorized use of public parkland, has not undergone a full environmental review, and does not adequately ensure public access.

Michael Gruen, president of the City Club, slammed the project in a statement as "a prime example of a public-private partnership run amok."

The Court of Appeals chooses whether or not to take up cases that are brought to it, and typically chooses cases that have a large affect on the public or have broad or significant legal impact, the opponents noted.

"This is a major potential case for the Court of Appeals,” Emery said in a statement. "It presents new aspects of current legal issues relating to putting public land in private hands and building a major entertainment space as an island in the Hudson without adequate environmental review."

“More than that,” Emery added, “the issues deeply affect the public. Our goal is to ensure maximum public access to parks, preservation of incomparable views over the Hudson, and maximum enjoyment of the Hudson River Park.”

Two courts have already ruled against them, in decisions by lower court Judge Joan Lobis and the Appellate Division that dismissed their claims as "without merit" and said they did not have proper standing to bring the case because they did not have a bid to compete with Diller.

READ MORE: Judge Dismisses Pier 55 Lawsuit as Being 'Without Merit'

Construction on the 2.7-acre pier is already underway, with nine piles driven in over the summer and another 46 planned for the fall.

READ MORE: Summer Construction Complete at Barry Diller-Funded Island Park

The park — complete with an amphitheater for performance events surrounded by undulating hills and walking paths — is expected to be unveiled in 2019.

David Paget, lawyer for the Hudson River Park Trust, dismissed Emery's motion as "without merit," echoing Lobis' earlier ruling.

"The plaintiffs' application does not meet the exacting standards of the New York Court of Appeals for securing permission to appeal to that court," Paget said in a statement. "Their arguments — part of a relentless delay tactic campaign — are without merit, as plainly and decisively determined by the recent opinion of the Appellate Division, First Department."

Here is the motion Emery filed on Thursday:

Pier55 Opponents Motion for Leave to Appeal