Disagreement over future of Pier 40 repairs leads Durst, Korman to resign from board

December 17, 2012 01:30PM

Developments on Hudson River Park’s Pier 40 were once the park’s largest single source of funding, but now that over-development and storm damage are causing the pier to sink, the floating 14-acre area has become more of a liability than an asset. According to the New York Observer, Douglas Durst, chairman of Friends of Hudson River Park, and the organization’s  vice president, Ben Korman, have stepped down after failing to find support for their plans to renovate the pier among the Friends of Hudson River Park or the park’s trust. The two board members were also major financial backers of the park.

Durst had proposed adding offices targeting tech firms and even gallery space to the pier’s parking and recreational facilities. He even paid for his own study that found repairs to the pier’s piles would cost between $30 and $44 million — much less than the Hudson River Park Trust’s estimate of $80 to $125 million.

However most of the board members advocated bringing in a private developer to make the fixes to the sinking pier, in contrast to Durst who had argued that the trust should front the money for development and then cover the costs by attracting new tenants.

“There was a difference of opinion of the direction that the park should go in,” Jordan Barowitz, a spokesperson for Durst, told the Observer. “Douglas is still deeply committed to the park, but given his difference of opinion from the leadership of the park, it became impractical for him to continue with the trust and with Friends.”

Madelyn Wils, president and CEO of the park’s trust who opposes development to the pier, has insisted that the park simply cannot afford to make the investment without private capital. “If it was up to me, not one more dime goes into Pier 40,” Diana Taylor, a board chair of Friends of Hudson River Park, said at a recent board meeting. “Period.” [NYO]Christopher Cameron