Gotham’s set to lose Wagner Park in Battery Park City

Two cheers for Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin’s belated opposition to the imminent destruction of Battery Park City’s beloved Wagner Park.

The state-driven “resiliency” scheme to close and tear up the park for two years in order to replace it with an unrecognizably warped landscape is a stroke of civic desecration in search of a legitimate purpose.

The Battery Park City Authority, a creature of the Democratic-dominated state government, plans to begin chopping up the 3.5-acre Hudson River leisure oasis and uproot its magnificent landscaping within days. The idea is to protect it from a monster future storm that exists only in the dreams of environmental extremists.

Unfortunately, Zeldin’s welcome outrage is too late, too little. He said, “Residents have pointed out that Wagner Park didn’t experience severe flooding during Superstorm Sandy.” Pointed out? It’s an undeniable fact. No “severe flooding?” It didn’t experience any.

He and other officials needed to howl more than a year ago when the $221 million (ha!) boondoggle was announced. It would raise the park 10 feet and inflict “exposed floodwalls,” “buried floodwalls” and “flip-up deployables” (whatever they are) on what are now some of Manhattan’s most enjoyable lawns and vantage points for sunbathing and sightseeing.

Gov. Hochul
Hochul has stood in support of the closing of Wagner Park for storm renovations.
Matthew McDermott

The reason: to protect the site from an entirely theoretical, “model”-based prediction of a “100-year storm” by 2050.   

Sure, climate change is real. But it isn’t occurring with the speed and intensity that “experts” would have us believe. It’s easy to cherry-pick snapshots of environmental damage. But a longer view recognizes that there are more polar bears today than in the 1960s.

Reasonable concern about climate change shouldn’t authorize government to ruin perfectly sound and beloved public facilities in the name of “saving” them from a theoretical future calamity that might never occur.

The BPCA’s assertion that it prioritizes “science” is as specious as early-pandemic claims that “science” justified shutting down the world. In truth, government bureaucrats prioritize voodoo environmentalism that would, if left unchecked, build a dome over Manhattan to protect skyscrapers from falling asteroids.

If there ever was hope to block or stall the Wagner scheme, our legislative leaders needed to throw their bodies in its way years ago when the BPCA, egged on by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, declared its intentions. 

Battery Park City Neighborhood Association board member Britni Erez praised Zeldin, saying, “Gov. Kathy Hochul should realize this is a big election issue for people across Lower Manhattan.”

Problem is, their elected representatives, all Democrats, are totally on board with the scheme. Among them: Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, state Sen. Brian Kavanagh (whose district includes Battery Park City!), Assembly Members Charles D. Fall and Yuh-Line Niou and City Councilman Christopher Marte.

Lee Zeldin.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin has recently spoken out against the closing of Wagner Park.
Robert Miller

After the Wagner plan was first made public, they picked nits over fine points — but steered clear of condemning the overall atrocity that it is.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, who endorses every one of Cuomo’s rotten real-estate and construction schemes, is unlikely to thank her opponent Zeldin for his input and announce she’s canceling the project.

The Post first howled over the Wagner Park drama two months ago. Local residents who’d given up hope of blocking the bulldozers rallied anew against it.

The BPCA tried to mollify them by proclaiming that the newly designed venue will have 74% more green space than in the original design. Goll-y! Yet it’ll still have slightly less green space than now, supposedly to allow other changes to make the park more “accessible.”

All this to protect it from an imagined, catastrophic future that’s beyond a worst-case scenario. Superstorm Sandy, which walloped the city with the greatest sea surge in its history, didn’t lay a drop of water on Wagner Park. The rest of Battery Park City suffered only minor damage at a few points near its northern end, far from Wagner Park.

Despite warnings from City Hall for Battery Park City’s 16,000 residents to evacuate as the storm approached, the apartment buildings never lost power and came through just fine. Residents returned to find their homes intact.

Why? Because Battery Park City, which is built on landfill, was designed to be storm-resilient from the beginning.

It might be too late for Wagner Park, but a Zeldin victory in November might steer the city (and state) back to some sanity on climate change — and head off the next Wagner Park we’d otherwise stand to lose.

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