Its good they used that, but it gets an inordinate amount of traffic.
I would still look for the best way to regularly maintain it, or my guess is that durable wood would not be cheap to replace....
The installation of the lawn is governed by a maintenance contract, which strictly limits use and care for the first year which is why the lawn has been so often off limits since section 2 opened on June 9, 2011. Hopefully once that one-year mark hits then they'll be able have the lawn accessible more often.
Posters in Chelsea complain about High Line visitors
Link to video:
Updated: Friday, May 25 2012 10:16 PM EDT2012-05-26 02:16:43 GMTover 36 minutes agoMay 25, 2012 10:16 PM EDT
The High Line has become a popular tourist destination but at least one local isn't so happy about it. Someone put up fliers around Chelsea complaining to the thousands of tourists.
High Line: Too much of a good thing?
BY ANDY HUMM
The High Line is nothing if not a new perspective on a land we thought we knew, its third-story railroad bed rising from the once meaner parts of Chelsea and the Village and exposing our radically changing neighborhoods in unexpected ways hidden from us at street level (or even from upper-floor apartment windows) while providing an unprecedented view of the rest of Manhattan, the Hudson and the United States proper across the river.
Now, this unique park that lets us look at the city anew is getting a new look from residents and community leaders. As it becomes part of our landscape, its extension is poised to tie us in with the nascent neighborhood to the north at the Hudson Yards. While most profess love and appreciation for the High Line, some are starting to voice reservations about its crowds, its relationship to skyrocketing residential and commercial real estate prices, its elite status as a city park financed almost entirely privately, and the fairness of its success at a time when many other parks — including the new Hudson River Park, not to mention anything in Bushwick — are struggling for funding.
Joshua David, the founder of the High Line with Robert Hammond (and a longtime Chelsea resident), said that the users of the park are roughly half tourists and half from Greater New York — with half of the latter group from the surrounding neighborhoods. Before the first section from Gansevoort to West 20th opened in June 2009, “we anticipated 300,000 visitors. We’re up to 3.7 million a year,” more than visit the Museum of Modern Art annually. It is a public city park, with the Friends of the High Line providing 90 percent of the operating costs.
It is now one of the city’s top tourist attractions. That recently prompted a Chelsea resident to post an anonymous sign. The note reminded visitors that this is a place where people live, not one big exhibit — the writer ended on a xenophobic note, telling “those who don’t speak English” to have someone translate for them.
Joan Tramontano has lived in London Terrace (West 23rd between Ninth and Tenth) since 1968 and loves the High Line. She remembers David setting up a card table on the street to educate the community about the need to save the High Line. “I didn’t believe the city would permit it. I supported it and still do.”
She also remembers when there was virtually no foot traffic through West Chelsea in the late 1960s. “There were lots of homeless people on the street,” she said. “When I lived on the 24th Street side of the building, we entered from 23rd Street. People wouldn’t walk on the side street at night. There was no place to eat in the neighborhood. All the townhouses on the south side of 23rd across from London Terrace were boarded up. You could get one for $100,000 and it had to be renovated.”
Tramontano now says, “Chelsea is the most expensive neighborhood in the city. When I moved here in ’68, nobody I knew had heard of Chelsea.”
Bill Hayes of the New York Times recently wrote of his experience ascending to the High Line: “What I had not anticipated was how crowded it would be, like being stuck on a moving sidewalk at an airport.” He tempered that criticism with: “But the night was too nice to begrudge anyone anything, particularly a chance to experience beauty. So I imagined I was a tourist, too, headed for a distant gate to board a plane to a place I had never been.” (He said he took the “lowlife route,” walking home from 34th Street down below “in the shadow of the High Line,” where he encountered some of what all of West Chelsea used to be: gas stations, a prostitute, homeless people and even a phone booth).
David said that local residents including himself are coming to realize that if they don’t like crowds on the High Line, it is to be avoided on weekends between 12 and 5pm. “All other hours are pleasurable,” he said. “People adapt.”
The High Line is surrounded by an explosion of new luxury residential buildings. The Caledonia and two others yet unbuilt-all bisected by the park-are obliged to kick in substantial sums to the City's High Line Improvement Fund under the deal that rezoned wide swaths of the area from manufacturing to residential - while curbing residential development in the blocks that have become saturated with art galleries, the pioneers in changing Far West Chelsea from desolate to hip. Other developers voluntarily contribute to the Friends of the High Line, which runs the park for the City, but they are not obliged to do so.
It’s an old story, but the influx of wealthy people has pushed up real estate values — a boon to those who already own (as their apartments increase in value and a challenge to anyone who wants to buy or rent in Chelsea). It has also vastly increased commercial rents by pushing out small neighborhood service stores and replacing them with upscale boutiques and restaurants.
The High Line operates on a budget of $7 million a year, David said, a chunk of that going to the development of the unfinished northern and final section. The financing system for the High Line — contributions by developers and donations very large and small through membership in the Friends of the High Line — raises the question of whether it is fair for desirable neighborhoods to get upscale parks when poorer ones do not. Indeed, government funding for the Hudson River Park has been slashed from $20 million to $6 million.
This, too, is not a new controversy. Fifth Avenue and Central Park West residents started the Central Park Conservancy to rehabilitate the city’s crown jewel with private money and did so, imposing a lot of new rules in the process. Is it fair?
“If New Yorkers wanted to increase taxes to reduce the need for private philanthropy, that would be great,” David said, “but that’s not reality. Parks get cut first when city budgets are cut.”
David said the Friends have been able to attract big donations “because donors see the High Line as something optimistic and promising about New York. It gives them a new perspective on the city and positions New York as a leader.” In fact, Chicago, Detroit and Jersey City are looking at developing parks along this line, and the Lower East Side is looking at developing a LowLine.
“The High Line is not just an expression of affluence,” David said. “It’s about a group of community members who rallied around it,” and it is those community roots that have made it so successful. David contrasts this with the similar government-built elevated rail park in Paris — the Promenade Plantée — which is “appreciated, but not beloved.”
George Boras, another longtime London Terrace resident, said, “What does the High Line do for us? There are no supermarkets opening, no shoe repair stores, nothing that would enhance the neighborhood for those who live here with basic services. But there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s the wave of the future.”
David said that the gentrification of West Chelsea did not begin with the High Line. When Rudy Giuliani was mayor, he opposed saving the High Line but was accelerating the process of rezoning the area for residential development. The initial resistance to the High Line was from developers who wanted it torn down so they would have more space for their projects — an instinct that goes to show that people with money are not always the brightest bulbs in the lamp. They have benefited greatly in terms of the values of their properties because of the light and style provided by the High Line. As outgoing Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, who has presided over its development with the enthusiastic support of Mayor Bloomberg, said, “It is not just a park. It is a work of art.”
Brad Hoylman, who worked with the founders on developing the High Line as chair of the Village’s Community Board 2, talked about the park’s “growing pains.”
“I’ve supported it for years,” he said. “I met Robert and Joshua when they hatched the idea at a community board meeting. I don’t think anyone thought it would become the big attraction that it has or have such an extraordinary effect on real estate values.”
Hoylman, now a candidate for Tom Duane’s state Senate seat, said, “Here’s the deal. On the upside, the High Line is preserved. The downside is that it is changing the neighborhood. But it is important that we keep it in context. The High Line is a great asset. The more we can get the local community involved, the better. The High Line is undertaking a lot of outreach and education programs through the Hudson Guild — arts programs, horticulture programs — involving local residents. We should think of it as a community asset. Local organizations should be able to access it for benefits. It’s not beyond solving. We need to find a way to make the community feel more integrated with it.”
The Friends of the High Line has a whole department of Programs, Education and Community Engagement headed by Danya Sherman (who did similar work for the Central Park Conservancy). On a recent late spring evening, she was hosting a lively step dancing competition of mostly African-American girls from city high schools on the High Line’s walkway under The Standard Hotel and attracting a diverse crowd of spectators. In addition to scheduling public entertainments, they run education programs with local schools and a lecture series for all. They also have started a Youth Corps for interns, some of whom have gone on to jobs with the Friends.
“Our focal point is running a park that serves its community first and foremost,” David said, “and New York City as a whole. The High Line is not going to be a place for basketball or barbeques or dogs — and those were hard decisions.”
Hoylman, like Duane, has expressed dismay that while the High Line attracts great philanthropic support, the waterfront Hudson River Park that they worked long and hard for “is not getting its share,” with proposals on the table to turn more of it over for commercial purposes in order to subsidize it.
Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and a likely candidate for Christine Quinn’s Council seat next year, is also a fan of the High Line. “I love it. I utilize it frequently. I was an early supporter,” he said. “My organization got part of it listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” saving it from demolition.
“With its success,” Berman noted, “come big issues such as an incredible number of tourists who come through West Chelsea, a formerly very quiet, lightly trafficked neighborhood. So it is having some undesirable impacts and wonderful impacts as a recreational space where you get a very different perspective.”
While this public amenity is what Berman wanted, “what we also got was the upzoning of an entire neighborhood to create thousands of units of luxury housing,” he said. “The mayor and Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff saw the High Line as a way of leveraging that. It was a high price to pay,” noting that the city didn’t seem to care about the ancillary effects on traffic, schools and city services. “Just build, build, build! The rich that move in can pay for whatever they need.”
The latest conflict between the community and the High Line, of course, is the bid of Jamestown to win the rezoning necessary to build hotel and commercial space over the Chelsea Market. Despite a requirement for Jamestown to kick in as much as $19 million for the High Line, the vertical expansion of Chelsea Market is strenuously opposed by Community Board 4.
In the summer of 2012, the High Line continues to be hot, attracting a steady flow of visitors. But it might not always be so.
Douglas Jennings, 24, and a student, said, “I was on a New York dating website and for a while, everyone trying to connect with you would text, ‘Let’s meet for coffee and walk on the High Line,’” the way such seekers used to express the desire for long walks on the beach. “Now,” Jennings said with a chuckle, “the tendency is for people to say, ‘How about doing something that doesn’t involve the High Line?’”
David is most pleased that he and Hammond have brought something into existence “good enough to make people visit our neighborhood. The vast majority of people are extremely positive about it. They go up and have a transformational experience. People are passionate about it.”
Mayor Bloomberg devoted his weekly radio address on June 24 to what he called “the huge growth in city parks” in line with his goal of all New Yorkers “living within a 10-minute walk of a park,” which he said is true for three-quarters of residents now. He cited unprecedented improvements to Bronx parks and the development of 2,000 acres at Staten Island’s Fresh Kills, the former city dump — “730 acres of new parkland” in all.
Docu/tribute to High Line
There is a good possibility that somewhere in these 50 pages this video is already posted, but even if it is it's worth reposting. Not only for members who haven't seen it yet but non-members who've taken a recent interest in the High Line. Thoughtfully created docu-short/tribute of what was (including ancient footage with pov from the train itself) and what's coming. Uploaded in July 2010. I always wondered how all that wildlife got there. Cool.
^ Hadn't seen that. Thanks, maria .
If you don't like the public visiting an adjacent public park, move to the exurbs and get a ten acre backyard. If you don't like mere mortals visiting your hip and cool neighborhood, move to a gated community. If you don't like changing demographics of Manhattan, zip your lip unless you are a Lenape Indian, a descendant of the island's original populants.
New Yorkers complain. Big surprise. If you don't like that then move to LA.
Critics Question $5M City Donation to High Line Expansion
By Mathew Katz
Park-goers will be able to access the undeveloped portion of the third section using an interim walkway.
CHELSEA — The High Line is set to get a whopping $5 million in extra cash from the city — more than almost any other park — even as it reported pulling in $85 million in private funds and established a lucrative concessions deal, city records show.
The High Line cash, appropriated by the City Council as part of the 2013 budget's capital expenditures, will be paid to the Friends of the High Line for use building the estimated $90 million construction on its third section.
By comparison, the nearby Hudson River Park, which has projected an $80 million deficit over the next 10 years and desperately needs some $100 million to rehabilitate a crumbling Pier 40, is only set to get $618,000 for capital projects from those appropriations, according to City Council budget documents.
The move has some park advocates questioning why the city is set to spend on the High Line such a large part of its $105 million, 2013 appropriations for 142 park projects — when the taxpayer money could go to other city parks that have greater infrastructure needs and fewer wealthy donors.
Matt Weiss, who's spent years leading the charge to build a park on a 10,000 square foot Department of Sanitation lot at 136 W. 20th St. said that the High Line is a treasure for the city, but questioned the $5 million allocation — particularly because he said the elevated park is not a children's playground and was hard to access for families living on the eastern portions of the neighborhood.
"In reality, less than half of that amount could bring the first new playground to Chelsea in 44 years," Weiss said. "It ... makes you ask where our elected officials' priorties are."
A spokeswoman for the City Council was unable to respond to requests for comment for this story.
Bob Trentlyon, a longtime watefront activist who helped develop Chelsea Waterside Park, said he was also surprised that the city alloted $5 million to the High Line.
"I was under the impression the High Line got its capital funds from contributions or from air rights of buildings being built next to the High Line," Trentlyon said.
While Trentlyon did not have any problems with cash being spent on the the High Line, he did see other areas where it could have been spent.
"One place it could have been spent was the repair of the bulkhead for Pier 84, which was damaged in Hurricane Irene," he said.
Outgoing Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe previously called the High Line a "great deal for the city" because he said most of its expenses would be covered by Friends of the High Line. The organization covers about 90 percent of the park's operating costs, roughly $3 million a year.
Friends of the High Line co-founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond told the New York Times in 2011 that they had raised $85 million of its $150 million fundraising goal for both construction and operating costs, and added that they expected to have to cover most of the costs of construction of the park's half-mile final section through private donors because of constraints on the city's budget.
Among the private donors who have filled the High Line's coffers are the Tiffany and Company Foundation — which gave the Friends a $5 million challenge grant in 2011, and The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation — which gave a record $20 million gift to pay for construction on the third section last year.
Future sources of High Line cash include the windfall it stands to gain if the City Council approves a massive expansion to Chelsea Market. Under the plan, developer Jamestown Properties would have to contribute anywhere from $17 million to $19 million to the city-managed High Line Improvement Fund.
Friends of the High Line is also slated to get funding through its lucrative concessions, including a 1,600 square-foot restaurant under the park set to open in October 2013. Unlike some other parks in the city, the High Line keeps the bulk of the revenue it generates from foodsellers on or under it, without having to share profits with the city's Parks Department.
“We are fortunate that private donors have stepped forward to support the High Line, and we are very grateful for this City funding, which is vitally needed," said Joshua David, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, in a statement.
"We have a long way to go to raise the estimated $90 million cost of completing the third and final section of High Line.”
Other city parks set to recieve city cash include Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is set to get $5.5 million from the Council to build the Pier 4 Beach and Habitat Island and a pedestrian entrance to the park on its north side, at Jay Street.
However, unlike the High Line — which pulls in massive cash from fundraising and private donations — Brooklyn Bridge Park relies almost entirely on the city for its capital costs.
The Brooklyn park is also 85 acres, compared to the High Line's 6.73.
Its own fundraising organization, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, puts most of its funds toward programming at the park. The park itself has received only two donations for capital projects so far — a carousel donated in 2011, and a $40 million gift from New York City Fieldhouse Chairman Joshua Rechnitz to build a recreation facility near pier Five.
The Hudson River Park Trust sought changes to the state legislation that governs it that would allow it to bring in more private funding through residential development, but that process stalled in Albany.
Lee Alman, a spokesman for the Hudson River Park Trust, said that the organization hopes to get the operations funding it needs without having to rely exclusively on city and state budgets — not unlike the High Line.
"The idea is to allow the park to be as self-sustaining as possible," he said. "This is all part of a larger discussion taking place over the course of the year."
Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates, called the difference in city allotments to park space discouraging — pointing to several other parks that could use city cash for improvements, including Ferry Point Park in the Bronx and Highbridge Park in Washington Heights.
"When you consider the dramatic needs of other parks that need a tremendous amount of help, the disparity is unbelievable," he said.
"The High Line and Brooklyn Bridge Park, they’re exciting new additions to the parks system," Croft said. "But clearly that money could be used to take care of longstanding needs in other, poorer communities. But it’s not a priority."