An attempt to pause a plan to raze and then raise Battery Park City’s Wagner Park for flood protection has been thwarted, according to a court ruling Friday.
A New York Supreme Court judge denied a neighborhood group’s request for an injunction that would have temporarily stopped the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), a state agency, from building the $221 million resiliency project.
To protect the area from storm surges, the project would elevate the park, build a new pavilion and install a series of flood walls and gates from the Museum of Jewish Heritage to Bowling Green Plaza. The effort ties in with other coastal resiliency projects to provide wide protection for Lower Manhattan.
A group of neighbors known as the Battery Park City Neighborhood Association in December went to court to try to stop construction on the park, arguing the BPCA failed to comply with state environmental review law by not fully examining alternative designs and by using climate projections they alleged were exaggerated.
The BPCA agreed to halt work on the park until the judge heard the case.
In her ruling, Judge Sabrina Kraus called the plan a “critical flood risk reduction project” and warned of “considerable” costs that would add up if there were delay.
“The public interest here is incontestable. Residents, employees and visitors to southern Battery Park City and adjoining areas of Lower Manhattan should not be made to suffer further delay in the accomplishment of this Project,” she wrote. “One of the fundamental purposes of the Project is to ensure that the Park can be enjoyed by generations to come. The parties simply differ on the best way to accomplish this.”
Now BPCA will move forward with construction, though a spokesperson declined to say when that would begin.
“As we have said from the start, the South Battery Park City Resiliency project was planned and approved in full accordance with the law, and we are grateful for the Court’s decision affirming that,” said BPCA spokesperson Nick Sbordone in a statement. “We now look forward to continuing the urgent work of protecting our community and Lower Manhattan from the devastation of future storms in the decades ahead.”
Britni Erez, a Battery Park City resident and member of the Neighborhood Association, expressed her disappointment with the ruling and maintained the BPCA didn’t properly consider alternatives, including the one the association had supported.
“The Authority’s designs remain at odds with industry best practices, new federal guidance and the community’s best interests, all prioritizing green infrastructure over concrete,” she wrote in a text. “The Authority is using yesterday’s solutions for tomorrow’s problems.”
Lawyers for the Neighborhood Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.