Construction begins on $46M park project along Manhattan waterfront

LOWER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Construction has begun Thursday on a project to revitalize and transform an industrial waterfront in Manhattan into a new public park.

For years, the stretch of land along the East River has been a waste land, made even worse by Superstorm Sandy.

Residents nearby knew the potential for the land and are now finally changing laps along the shore.

"In the future there will be a sea rail and esplanade and seating area," said Daniel Bradley, the construction manager for LIRO Group.

The $46 million dollar plan is known as Pier 42 Park. It will include an upgraded sea wall, sewage lines, pathways and plantings, as well as ball fields and a playground across eight acres.

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"This could have easily been a mixed used development that blocked access to the waterfront, but the city said no -- we're going to take our best land and give it to the public," New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said.

A public that has long been left out of the kind of riverfront development that stretches along the Hudson River.

The plan to revitalize Pier 42 began in 2012 when the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) spearheaded the project with funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) joined the project team in 2017 and first managed the demolition of the vacant shed and preservation of the structural steel bays.

Nancy Ortiz is a community advocate and is thrilled that her Lower East Side neighborhood, which is on the waterfront, will now have access to that waterfront.

"My vision is the community has a safe place -- clean new park," Ortiz said.

The build out will be completed in two phases: the first, including the ball fields and pier front areas, will be done at the end of next summer, and the playground will be completed the following year.

This project is game changing for residents living nearby.

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