Estuarium still afl oat, park offi cials promise
BY GABE HERMAN
An estuarium in Hudson River
Park, for research and education
of the river and its creatures,
has been a decades-old idea that
somehow never has gotten out of port,
so to speak. But park offi cials are now
confi dent it will soon become a reality.
A main building would be located
in Tribeca at Pier 26, which is soon to
undergo construction for its other elements,
including a wetland tidal pool
that is part of the Estuarium’s concept.
Those other parts of the pier are scheduled
to be completed by 2020, though
the Estuarium building is still in the
fundraising phase and has no specifi c
A spokesperson for the Hudson River
Park Trust said of the Estuarium, “This
spring, there will be a determination on
how to move forward with the facility.
And in March, Pier 26 will be in full
The Estuarium would be at the pier’s
mainland end. The Trust — the statecity
authority that is operating and
building the 4.5-mile-long park — is
working with Clarkson University to secure
funding for the long-awaited project.
The Upstate school in Potsdam won
a request for expressions of interest, or
R.F.E.I., put out by the Trust in 2013
looking for a partner.
“It’s been a labor of love and a work
in progress,” said Nicolette Witcher, a
vice president with the Trust who runs
all Estuary Lab programming.
She said she is confi dent the Estuarium
will be funded and happen.
“We are super-excited about it and
continue to work on it,” she said.
Witcher noted the park has 400 acres
of state-protected water and a mandate
to provide educational programs and
research for the public. The park’s Estuary
Lab has held more than 400 educational
programs throughout the park
and worked with more than 7,000 city
Witcher said it has been a long road
for the Estuarium to fi nally happen. Perhaps
no one knows this better than Tom
Fox, who was involved in early stages of
developing the waterfront park and in
the 1990s was director of the Hudson
River Park Conservancy, a predecessor
to the Trust.
Fox noted that in the late ’80s and
early ’90s, the River Project, led by
Cathy Drew, which studies and educates
about the river, was stationed at
Pier 26 and run on a shoestring budget
out of an old building.
“The Estuarium was to be the institutionalization
of this concept she brought
to the river — which was using the river
as a classroom,” Fox said.
The River Project was at Pier 26 from
1986 until 2005, when it moved to its
current spot at Pier 40, at W. Houston
St. The group is an independent tenant
A photo of the eastern end of Tribeca’s Pier 26 in 1990, sporting the Downtown Boathouse, which housed
A rendering of what the revamped Pier 26 will look in the future, after
it is freshly landscaped as a park. The Estuarium — depicted as a
roughly massed white structure — is at the pier’s eastern end.
A rendering of how the western end of Pier 26 will look after the pier’s
of the park. But Drew said she has a lot
of contact with the Trust and that her
organization is part of the new Estuarium
plans, and slate to have space on its
ground fl oor.
“The Estuarium was our idea many
years ago, and we are part of it,” Drew
said. “We’re really excited about it.”
However, Fox said he felt the Estuarium
project was cast aside for years,
PHOTO BY TOM FOX
and wondered why a local organization
wasn’t involved instead of Upstate
Witcher said before the R.F.E.I. was
issued, the Trust worked informally with
local institutions like City University of
New York, The New School and New
York University. But operating issues
came up, leading to the R.F.E.I., which
drew two responses — from Clarkson
and the River Project.
Witcher acknowledged it is logical to
ask why a nonlocal organization is involved,
but she said Clarkson was best
equipped as an institution to handle the
facility’s operations. She said the school
has direct involvement with the Hudson
River through its Beacon Institute for
Rivers and Estuaries. And Clarkson’s
work with the city’s New York Hall of
Science was also a factor in choosing
the university, she added.
The Estuarium will extend beyond
the physical building at the base of Pier
26, and will include other parts of that
pier, Witcher added.
“This is intended to be our eco-pier,”
And Pier 57, on which renovations are
ongoing in Chelsea, and the upcoming
Gansevoort Park, near the Meatpacking
District, will also have aquatic teaching
areas, as will other parts of the park.
Witcher said it’s important to include
Drew and the River Project in the Estuarium,
acknowledging the work they
do to teach about the river through its
animals and environment.
“Everyone sees that’s really unique
and special, and so we wanted to fi nd
a way to preserve that,” she said. “We
want to be able to fi nd a way to share
some of that programming and have
that live exhibit concept at the Estuarium.”
Schneps Media DEX February 21 - March 6, 2019 3