Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Planning Board Public Hearings This Week

On Thursday, March 8, the day after the storm, when we have dug ourselves out of the snow, the Planning Board will hold two public hearings. 

  • The first is about the Hudson Sloop Club's application for site plan review of the Nack Education Center, to be constructed between the two embayments south of Rick's Point. The center will include an information kiosk, outdoor classroom and storage--all uses to be water-related.
  • The second concerns an application from Backbar, 347 Warren Street, to amend its previously approved site plan to expand the hours of operation to allow the outdoor space to be used after 10 p.m.
The public hearings begin at 6 p.m. at the Council Chamber at City Hall.


  1. Do people understand the Sloop Club's ambition to take over nearly half of the waterfront park?

    Alarming, right?

    Has anyone else wondered why Rick's Point is within the perimeter of the Club's site plan?

    Oh wait, that's only in the "proposed site plan" submitted to the DRI. The Club's request for $1.2 million of DRI money actually includes three maps illustrating the project's perimeter.

    By contrast, the Club opted not to include this information in its application to the Planning Board. (Read that again.)

    Although one would hope that a Planning Board might take an interest in every Applicant's intended uses, and further inquire how these uses might impact the interests of others who also use, say, a public park, our Planning Board's application asks nothing about the outline of anyone's project area.

    Seeing this, the Sloop Club simply reported the entire area of the park (6.4 acres), and then omitted from its site plan for the Planning Board any indication of the three-acre project perimeter it hopes will be approved by the DRI's Local Planning Committee alone.

    Then, once the LPC decides to fund the wasteful pier proposal (wasteful because the Club knew all along that it couldn't deliver on its inflated promises), it will be discovered that the Planning Board had already approved a 6.4-acre "parcel" area for the Club, the park's total area in which the Club would situate its 1.2-acre Everett Nack Estuary Education Center (a.k.a. Phase I of its DRI proposal).

    The unspecified but total "parcel" area of the Nack Center in the park will pave the way for subsequent Planning permissions for the project's final Phases.

    Does anyone other than me detect something vaguely underhanded here?

    All of the above should be the subject of tomorrow's Public Hearing. But first, people need to ask what it means that the Sloop Club wants half of the Henry Hudson Riverside Park.

    The big question to the Planning Board should be: Do you know everything that you are approving?

  2. If the total combined footprint of the structures will come to 1,310 square feet, then why can't the Planning Board be informed of an outer limit to the intended project area?

    To be generous to the applicant, the Nack Center's proposed uses described in both the Planning Board application and the DRI materials fit nicely within a 1.2-acre section of the waterfront park. (The site plan asks approval for landscaping and a design of the grounds as well.)

    But with no discernible boundary in the site plan, the Planning Board will be a party to the Sloop Club's takeover of 48% of the waterfront park, the ultimate project size given in the DRI proposal but not reported to the Planning Board.

    So rather than giving this applicant the benefit of the doubt, as many seem willing to do, when evaluating the Nack Center the Planning Board would be wise to look for signs that it is being exploited to facilitate the applicant's funding opportunities in the DRI.

    In DRI funding, the Sloop Club is requesting 12.47% of the available funds, and for something it knows it cannot deliver as described. Then, its subsequent project phases will require nearly half of the waterfront park!

    Tonight's Public Hearing will mark a significant moment in a greater power shift in the City which I'm sorry to say I once supported. What I will never support is sneakiness and sleight-of-hand.