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The Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority (the “Authority”) is a public benefit corporation created in 1968 by the New York State Legislature to be responsible for planning, developing and maintaining the residential, commercial, parks and open space located along the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan in New York City (the “City”). Home to 16,000 people, the work place of 40,000 more, and visited by more than a half-million people each year, New York’s Battery Park City is an asset to both the State and City.
According to the Battery Park City Master Plan of 1979, Battery Park City was envisioned not to be a self-contained community, but rather a neighborhood woven into our city’s fabric. Through its contributions, the Authority is deeply committed to the mission of providing resources for the good of neighborhoods across the five boroughs.
Battery Park City Authority has a long history of environmental leadership. Since its inception, the parks and open spaces in Battery Park City were designed with environmental quality as a priority. In the early 2000s, the Authority released environmental guidelines for residential buildings and commercial buildings, leading to the development of buildings that were well ahead of city, and even global standards at the time. The BPC Sustainability Plan, released in 2020, builds on Battery Park City’s robust environmental legacy with a refreshed commitment to take and facilitate bold and effective action to enhance sustainability and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Board and management of the Authority remains committed to encouraging and pursuing resiliency and environmental sustainability among its top priorities.
Through its layout and geographic orientation, Battery Park City is an intentionally knitted extension of the City’s streets and blocks. The names of streets heading east and west are purposely the same as those on the opposite side of West Street. Battery Park City was never considered an addition to New York City, but rather, a continuation of this dynamic City’s development into the 21st century.
The Battery Park City Authority has continued to implement the BPC Sustainability Plan and elevate sustainability in the neighborhood since the plan’s launch in 2020. Developed in consultation with a broad range of residential, local, and governmental stakeholders, the BPC Sustainability Plan provides the framework for developing and implementing a carbon neutral Battery Park City by the middle of the century through achievement of progressive sustainability targets through 2030, and lays the groundwork for continued sustainability action thereafter.
As BPCA celebrates Earth Day 2023 with a weeklong lineup of free public programming, we also mark our progress across the Plan’s four topic areas: Energy, Water, Materials & Waste, and Site.
– **Climate Action Plan: **Released in April 2022, Battery Park City’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) focuses on the climate mitigation potential of BPC sustainability actions, quantifying and mapping greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions between now and 2050. CAP provides a high-level roadmap for Battery Park City to successfully achieve a carbon neutral neighborhood, where GHG emissions are net-zero over the course of a year with deep reductions and carbon offsets, as needed. GHG emissions reduction strategies in the energy, transportation, and waste sectors were modeled through 2050.
– Measure It To Manage It: The City of New York is targeting an 80% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050. In Battery Park City our goal is even more ambitious – carbon neutrality by the middle of the century. The Authority tracks and monitors its progress against this goal, and its 2020 and 2021 GHG inventory – for both its own operations and Battery Park City overall – can be found here.
– **Energy Audits: **The Authority set energy reduction goals for its own spaces in the BPC Sustainability Plan. In pursuit of those goals, BPCA completed ASHRAE Level II energy audits of its 75 Battery Place facility and 200 Liberty Street office space in 2022. The purpose of these audits was to determine potential energy conservation measures (ECMs) that can be implemented to reduce annual energy consumption and energy costs. The audits also included a lifecycle cost analysis to inform future decision making about the total cost and savings of the ECMs.
– **Replacing Gas-Powered Equipment: **As tools and equipment near the end of their useful life, BPCA’s Parks Operations team has transitioned to electric equipment options when possible. In 2022, a selection of gas powered equipment was replaced by electric snow blowers, an electric weed trimmer, electric leaf blowers, and an electric powered water pump. Moving forward, electric and/or zero-emissions equipment will always be assessed and reviewed for future equipment needs.
– **Energy & Sustainability Resources: **BPCA enhanced its role as a valuable facilitator of sustainability information in 2022. A “Sustainability Resources” section was added to the monthly BPC newsletter in 2022, which since launch has included information on service providers, educational, and financing opportunities items like New York State Energy Research and Development Authority grant opportunities, webinar sessions on LL97 and energy benchmarking hosted by the City, and rebate programs from Con Ed. In addition, the Authority collects and curates energy efficiency, building operations, energy retrofit, and technical and financial support opportunities, and shares this information with building management firms across Battery Park City.
Read more about the BPCA’s past work in this topic area: Energy.
– BPC Ball Fields Resiliency: Resiliency measures at the BPC Ball Fields and Community Center were completed in 2022. The project entailed construction of an approximately 800-linear foot flood protection system along the fields’ perimeter to protecting the 80,000 square foot playing surface – used by some 50,000 local youth annually – and adjacent community center from the risks associated with storm surge and sea level rise. See more about this work here.
– Permeable Paver Pilot: In line with the actions and goals laid out in the BPC Sustainability Plan, the Authority’s permeable paver pilot project aims to make the neighborhood’s stormwater infrastructure and management more resilient. The project will replace existing impermeable pavement with permeable ones in selected areas in BPC. Permeable pavers allow stormwater to infiltrate into the park’s soil profile and help mitigate run-off. The pilot will assess the permeable pavement’s efficacy in reducing stormwater runoff, mitigate water accumulation, and decrease existing pooling of water after storms have passed. The initiative will also assess the ease of procurement and installation, purchase price, and ongoing maintenance costs of each of the permeable paver options. As of April 2023, installation at two of the four pilot locations is complete – one at the top of South Cove (look for the light colored pavers by the cul-de-sac at South End Avenue), and on the South Esplanade, near The Upper Room.
– **Snow/Ice Removal: **Parks Operations uses Magic Salt Ice Melt for sidewalks and pathways in BPC in the winter months. Magic Salt is a blend of salt and leftover mash from alcohol distilleries and is more environmentally friendly than traditional salt, having a low corrosion value and releasing fewer chlorides into the landscape and stormwater. Learn more about the Authority’s leading snow and ice removal practices here.
Read more about the BPCA’s past work in this topic area: Water.
MATERIALS & WASTE
– **Recycling Expansion: **In 2022, the Authority executed on a key waste diversion action from the BPC Sustainability Plan – “Expanding recycling and composting activities through additional infrastructure, education, and training.” More than 100 blue recycling cans were added to Battery Park City’s park space in 2022, expanding recycling into the open space for the first time. This new recycling infrastructure, combined with recycling education for BPCA staff and the neighborhood, sets the stage for Battery Park City to significantly reduce its landfill numbers.
– **Zero-Waste Open Space and Operations Certification Year: **Building on the momentum of BPCA’s Zero Waste Gold certification for our 75 Battery Place facility, the Authority set a new goal of zero waste open spaces and operations in 2021. While 2021 served as the baseline year, Fiscal Year 2022 served as the certification year for this goal. Throughout 2022, multiple waste audits were performed of park and street trash. In addition to the waste audits, daily weighing and the review of historical waste data has informed the baseline and future measures for achieving zero waste park space. Moving forward, the results of these audits and insights from BPCA’s Zero Waste Advisory Committee will inform the strategy for educating Authority staff and the broader BPC community so that all can play a role in achieving this goal.
– **Resource Reduction & Salvage: **Parks Operations continues to identify creative opportunities to salvage and reuse materials in its daily operations; these opportunities can often then inform the Authority’s future purchasing decisions. For example, the set design for the Giuletta e Romeo opera last summer reused more than 40 park bench slats. Plexiglas salvaged from BPCA’s 200 Liberty Street offices has been used for windshields of electric carts. As part of the South Battery Park City Resiliency Project, our Horticulture division facilitated plant salvage opportunity for other State and City parks. BPCA regularly reaches out to vendors to create or utilize opportunities for “take-back” programs, repurposes items often sent to landfill, and works with vendors that can help recycle items that are considered “hard to recycle.” Taken together, these are the strategies that BPCA will use to reduce the amount sent to the landfill and change the mindset about waste in Battery Park City.
– **BPCA Procurement Guidelines: **The purchasing and procurement of materials by BPCA is a key place to include sustainability in decision-making and reduce waste. Sustainability guidance was added to the Procurement Guidelines in 2021, and it has become a regular practice to annually review the language included in the Authority’s Procurement Guidelines to ensure best practices are included for greener procurement.
– **Organics Collection & Composting: **BPCA continues its robust composting program, composting more than 75,247 lbs. in 2022. As just one example, composting was provided at BPCA’s Swedish Midsummer Festival in June 2022, one of the largest annual events. Over 92 lbs. of food waste was composted and diverted from the landfill as a result.
– **Dog waste composting expansion: **Battery Park City’s dog waste compost program, first launched in September 2019, the Authority has collected more than 5,700 lbs. of dog waste – creating nearly 7,000 lbs. of compost – with the first two fully-tested and cured dog waste compost applied along the West Street / Route 9A median in January 2022. Later that year, BPCA installed a new drop-off location on the BPC Esplanade, just south of Esplanade Plaza, to make participating in this program easier than ever. The Authority is now collecting between 15-25 lbs. of dog waste daily from our three dog runs and new collection bins along the BPC Esplanade.
Read more about the BPCA’s past work in this topic area: Materials & Waste.
– **Biodiversity & Habitats: **Expanding and enhancing existing ecological habitats is a goal outlined in both our Resilience Action Plan (the Authority’s first-ever strategic plan) and the BPC Sustainability Plan. By increasing biodiversity where appropriate across Battery Park City, the Authority will improve habitat resilience to different climatic conditions, improve their ecological health, and provide and support broader ecosystem services. BPCA uses the iNaturalist platform for documenting biodiversity in the neighborhood along with citizen scientists from across the city. With iNaturalist and stand-alone wildlife inventories, the Authority can better monitor and track birds, insects/pollinators, and other wildlife in BPC. A Kestrel box was installed in Rockefeller Park this summer, providing a place to build a nest and/or rest during migration, and recent creation of 10 “bee hotels” tucked away across our parks allows these buzzing buddies to safely nest and lay eggs.
– **New York State Birding Trail: **With more than 100 species of bird identified as living in or passing through Battery Park City, the neighborhood is a biodiversity haven across its 36 acres of parks and public space. Last October, Battery Park City was officially welcomed as part of the New York State Birding Trail, which highlights world-class birding opportunities across the state. The trail provides information on places anyone can go to find birds amid beautiful settings.
– Tree Power Program: During the autumn 2022 planting season, BPCA participated in the New York Power Authority’s Tree Power Program for the second consecutive year. The Authority planted 18 trees, which will store 491 lbs. of CO2 equivalents annually. All the trees selected are native to New York State, and provide particular value to birds, butterflies and moths, beneficial insects, and other wildlife.
Read more about the BPCA’s past work in this topic area: Site.
New York City was hit with an estimated $19 billion in damages and lost economic activity after Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012. The historic storm displaced thousands of residents from flooded homes, inundated subway tunnels, and left much of Manhattan in darkness. But when B.J. Jones talks about that disaster, he often focuses on a less dramatic storm impact — the storm surge that left the baseball and soccer fields at Battery Park underwater.
Jones, the president and chief executive officer of the Battery Park City Authority, brings up the ballfields to show that, amid the high-rises, there’s a real neighborhood here in this low-lying area at the southern tip of Manhattan, with roughly 16,000 full-time residents and its own Little League. A decade after Sandy, Jones is the head of the state-chartered corporation overseeing the Battery Park City Resiliency Project, a massive effort to reshape the coastline to prevent future catastrophic flooding.
“If we don’t change it, Mother Nature will,” Jones said.
Like so many such projects in New York City and around the nation and the globe, the resilience projects around Battery City are billed as critical in an era of climate change. They’re also expensive: The first phase of this effort, the South Battery Park City Resiliency Project — which will run from the Museum of Jewish Heritage through Wagner Park, Pier A Plaza and the Battery to a topographic high point near Bowling Green Plaza — is expected to break ground in September, with an estimated price tag of at least $221 million; a second phase estimated to cost at least $630 million that will stretch along the neighborhood’s northern and western boundaries is predicted to finish in 2026.
With global design firm AECOM working as lead architect and engineer, the project amounts to a wholesale reconstruction of the already artificial Battery Park City — 92 acres created from soil and rock dug during the construction of the World Trade Center. An unnatural creation, this land didn’t even exist 50 years ago, yet it’s dense with infrastructure and underground tunnels managed by various city departments, each of which must be involved in every aspect of design and construction for the costly project. Advocates insist this investment is necessary to shield Lower Manhattan, a crucial node in the global economy and site of some of the most valuable real estate in the US. The overall objective: protection against so-called 100-year flood events, which are expected to be more frequent and intense.
The project is a rare exception, in many ways. The Battery Park City Authority can leverage bond funding and coordinate the endeavor in ways other local government entities can’t. It’s an example of an empowered local government entity in a wealthy neighborhood tackling rising water with immense financial resources.
“It’s a good model for climate change resilience, in that they have this more collective organization that can represent the neighborhood,” said Thad Pawlowski, a professor and managing director at Columbia University’s Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes. “Frankly, most climate change adaptations are just cleaning up messes from disasters and waiting to tap into disaster recovery programs. In this case, the Battery Park City Authority is stepping up to do this. They recognize the urgency.”
Few waterfront areas have the resources of the Battery Park City Authority at their disposal, but there are broadly applicable lessons available to municipal and local groups embarking on climate change infrastructure, Pawlowski believes. The federal infrastructure law passed last year included $47 billion for spending, in part, to shore up coastal communities in the path of rising waters.
“A rising tide lifts all boats,” Pawlowski said. “Spending billions here shouldn’t take away from high-priority projects elsewhere; it’s not zero-sum. If anything, people should look at this project and ask, ‘Where’s the government, where’s our tax dollars, where’s the public investment we need in my neighborhood? Wow, a billion dollars was spent on Lower Manhattan. We need a billion dollars here, too. We need a Green New Deal.’”
Battery Park City’s transformation is part of an even larger climate mobilization: the multibillion-dollar Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency plan, an effort that traces its evolution to a series of post-Hurricane Sandy efforts to protect the city from future flooding. The 2013 Rebuild by Design competition asked cities to focus on resilience and reworking coastal areas to right past design wrongs; Bjarke Ingels Group’s BIG U design, the winning Manhattan project, proposed a horseshoe-shaped series of landscape projects that would layer social infrastructure atop flood prevention.
It also starts in the shadow of the adaptation project around Manhattan’s East River Park, which broke ground last year. That process became fraught as the city and various community and advocacy groups sparred over the planning process. The city’s decision in 2018, under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, to ignore a previous plan developed via thousands of hours of public meetings — and essentially abandon the BIG U concept and go in a different direction that in effect buried a cherished public park — incensed many.
“It was just a failure in the public process,” Pawlowski said of the East River initiative. “There’s a lot of public conversation to have about how we adapt to climate change, because it’s not like there’s just a one-size-fits-all solution. It challenges our idea of what a public process is, because we need communities to be deeply involved in this work and to have a stake in it, or it just won’t happen.”
Betty Kay, a Battery Park City resident and community board member who has been involved in the planning and discussions around the project since 2016, said their resiliency project was more transparent and responsive. There has been extensive documentation and collaboration along the way, and videos of every meeting can be found online. While many residents and newcomers were surprised by the degree of change, including the razing of beloved green space, it has moved relatively fast for such a complex undertaking.
That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some community pushback: Daniel Akkerman, president of the Battery Alliance, told The City that he wanted more direct outreach and felt surprised by plans for the park. Others have complained about parks being temporarily closed and beloved trees removed, as well as construction noise and disruption that, for older residents, recalls the rebuilding after Sept. 11. Using the hashtag #Pausethesaws, members of the Battery Park City Neighborhood Association have called for rethinking the current plans and adding more neighborhood representation in decision-making. In letters sent to New York Governor Kathy Hochul, Jones and other leaders, they raise questions about the scale, scope and science behind the project, as well as what they see as misleading claims about the flooding risks faced by the neighborhood. Columnist Steve Cuozzo recently echoed those complaints in the New York Post, writing that the end results would be a “grotesquely warped” Wagner Park.
But Kay says the Battery Park process did better outreach, and gained more community support, than its counterpart on the East River. The public campaign was focused on boltering those who supported resiliency, convincing those on the fence, she said, and being fair with the naysayers, who weren’t expected to ever back up the effort. In particular, she felt that the series of public tours with architects and engineers to explain the larger vision helped address concerns. Tour leaders held up poles showing the projected height of floodwater at different sites, helping to dramatize the need for specific flood infrastructure, and showcasing a hands-on methodology for other cities and neighborhoods.
“The in-person tours really mattered,” Kay said. “You could show that there isn’t a lot of land to work with, and when someone had an objection or asked a question, they would be faced with the question, ‘Well, how would you reimagine it? How would you like to maintain it?’”
While the project covers just a small cross section of Manhattan, Battery Park City’s varying topography means even among this relatively small stretch of waterfront, different approaches to resilience and mitigation will be used. Wagner Park will be elevated 10 feet and include a buried flood wall, which requires the demolition and replacement of an existing pavilion. Other sections will have elevated berms and pop-up walls.
Pier A Plaza, meanwhile, will be envisioned as a bi-level landscaped park, with tiered seating that acts as a water barrier during low-level flooding, and flip-up gates on the upper level to be deployed for more severe weather events. The entire project is built with flooding in mind; the wood used for seating can stand being submerged for days at a time, new trees will be resistant to saltwater, and formerly brick structures will be rebuilt with structural concrete to resist erosion.
This underscores one of the prime selling points of the current plan: the effort to create public amenities that double as flood protection, adding and enhancing shared space instead of merely erecting large bulkheads — social infrastructure as climate resilience. Gwen Dawson, Battery Park City Authority vice president of real property, described the approach as using a “scalpel, not a sledgehammer.”
“Climate change will redefine our waterfront in terms of ownership, access, and natural versus hard edges,” said Pawlowski, who believes much of the city’s coast may ultimately be turned back to marshland and beach. “It’s a real civic asset today, and people love to walk along the promenade, and I think it will continue to be a great place for people to enjoy New York City’s waterfront and understand how it's changing.”
Part of the reason Battery Park City can move forward like this is how it’s footing the bill. The public authority is leveraging its ability to issue its own bonds, using revenues from ground leases and property tax payments (known as “payment in lieu of taxes,” or PILOT) from Battery Park City. (Residents will see no increases in ground rent or PILOT, per the Authority.) It’s a good mechanism, according to Pawlowski, and speaks to the reality of resilience: Climate change adaptation is going to cost a lot of money, so it’s up to public agencies and government to structure such payments in ways that create jobs and become drivers for the economy.
That fundamental logic should hold even for local governments that lack the kind of economic means found in Lower Manhattan.
“There’s a lot of money that has to be found,” said Kay, about the dire need for increased resilience spending across the city. “No one knows where it’s coming from, and there’s a 20- to 25-year time frame to get it done.”
The urgency can’t be overstated. The rising sea level — a foot in the harbor already, potentially three to six feet by midcentury— means every tropical storm and nor’easter could have that much more impact. The reality of this changed landscape can be seen elsewhere in New York City: Residents of Staten Island and Jamaica Bay are raising homes — or taking post-storm buyouts to leave.
Pawlowski hopes this Battery Park City plan and development helps elevate the idea of what can be done for the public within resilience projects and proposals. Ideally, he sees this raising the standard, and helping other neighborhoods — such as Red Hook in Brooklyn or Hunt’s Point in the Bronx, which don’t have Battery Park City’s resources and face some of the highest risks from climate change — demand and receive more.
There’s a sense that there’s no time to waste, and the community seems to accept that. Kay recalls one resident who wanted to have a farewell party for the old Wagner Park before renovations and reconstruction begin.
“When you start putting concrete in the ground, you’re really admitting what’s happening,” she said. “You’re gearing up for war and about to fight, and that’s very scary.”
The Battery Park City Authority released its industry-leading Climate Action Plan, a detailed roadmap of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction strategies in the energy, transportation, and waste sectors. The Battery Park City Climate Action Plan, developed by BPCA through its consultant Buro Happold, an international sustainability consultancy, was crafted by calculating current GHG emissions for the neighborhood, as well as projections of how those emissions would change year-by-year through 2050. It comes on the heels of the newest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change outlining the dire need for swift action to avert the worst effects of climate change.
Lower Manhattan Climate Resilience Study (March 2019)
Sustainalytics Second Party Opinion - Sustainability Bonds
FY2019 Sustainability Bonds Reporting
Sustainability Plan April 2020
Green Guidelines September 2020
Sustainability Plan September 2020
Sustainability Implementation Plan September 2020
FY2020 Sustainability Bonds Reporting
FY2021 Sustainability Bonds Reporting
How NYC's Battery Park City Is Preparing for Rising Seas (Bloomberg) - 7/26/22