Park Space Is Coming to a Promenade in Battery Park City

Graphic by the Battery Park City Authority shows concept for block-long park space between Second Place and Third Place. The space would occupy 18 feet of what is now a 30-foot-wide promenade from Battery Place to Third Place.

May. 01, 2023

The Battery Park City Authority is taking its first steps to turn part of a three-block-long stretch of wide promenade into park space. 

With Wagner Park closed for resiliency reconstruction for the next two years, the Authority aims to help make up for the loss by “activating” a portion of the 30-foot-wide sidewalk that runs between Battery Place and Third Place. But it will be cautiously completed in phases, Authority officials told Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee at its April meeting.

“Instead of trying, in one shot, to create one set of designs and then executing it, we thought it might be a better approach to break up [the space] into smaller chunks, smaller phases,” said Varun Kohli, the Authority’s Vice President for planning and design. The first phase, actually a “pre-phase,” he said, would be a “light touch” to the block-long segment between First Place and Second Place. There will be temporary resurfacing, with picnic tables and chairs added—things that could be changed if they didnt work out.

The promenade north of Third Place narrows to 12 feet, so the plan calls for maintaining 12 feet of walkway through the lower three blocks, and creating new uses for the remaining 18 feet of width.  

“We’re trying to get some excitement going and announce that more will be happening,” Kohli said, noting that the Authority aims to complete the block-long section by mid-May.

Last fall, the Authority began seeking ideas from the community on how the space, located between Little West Street and the bikeway, could be programmed. The initiative came on the heels of protests over the planned closure of the park. Construction was expected to take place during the winter but planners continued to get input from local schools, after-school programs, residents and others for ideas on how they would like to use the space. (The idea for picnic tables comes from PS/IS 276, some of whose students ate lunch in Wagner Park.)

At the April CB1 Committee meeting, most members seemed to support the Authority’s slow approach to the project, though some questioned the potential for noise from people gathering at night, and whether the remaining space for pedestrians would be wide enough. 

The good thing about the current plans, said committee member Jeff Galloway, “is that it is inherently temporary. It’s an experiment.”