The project has been advertised as a coming attraction for over six years. As early as mid-2003, Mayor David Roberts said the park could open in 2005, but now it's slated for a 2008 opening.
Part of the problem is that the plans have been scaled down in order to make the project less expensive.
A brief history For decades, Pier C was the broken pier that jutted into the Hudson River from Third Street. In the 1990s, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in an effort to fulfill a congressional mandate to breathe new life into the area, agreed to spend $80 million to help the city redevelop the southern waterfront. Much of that money went to build the 5-acre Pier A Park, which, as most Hoboken residents know, is one of the city's most popular parks.
But a portion of that money was set for demolition of the rotting Pier C, and the Port Authority was to pay for the reconstruction of the new pier park.
In the summer of 2002, contractors razed the ramshackle Pier C. Now there are plans to build an approximately 2-acre park with the Port Authority's money.
The project's construction drawings have been completed by the architectural firm Van Valkenburgh Associates.
The award-winning firm's recent and current commissions include Pittsburgh's Allegheny Riverfront Park, a master plan for Brooklyn Bridge Park, Teardrop Park in Battery Park City, and the redesign of Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House.
Van Valkenburgh's design calls for a "play landscape," featuring space for volleyball, a play area for children of all ages, a fishing pier, and a picnic area with tables and grills.
Bids rejected In mid-2005, the city received bids from a general contractor and subcontractors who will build the project.
According to the city's Director of Community Development Fred Bado, those bids ranged from $22 million to $43 million, but were rejected because they were too high.
In order to protect the city's negotiating position, Bado declined to say exactly how much the city has left to build the park. He did say that it has less than the lowest rejected bid.
Possibly scaled down To get the project moving again, the city is now rewriting its bid. To save money, Bado said, the city is including alterative bids, which eliminate the volleyball court and "several hundred feet" of the large fishing pier that would stretch into the Hudson River. Bado said that if more money becomes available in the future, those elements could be added at a later date.
"We are hoping go out to bid for the project soon, hopefully by the end of June," Bado said.
He said that if that happens, and the bids are for an acceptable amount, construction could start this year. Once construction begins, he said, it will take 12 to 18 months to build the park.
But considering the normal delays in municipal projects, it could take longer.
Some reasons for delay Bado acknowledged that this project has been slow in coming to fruition, but that this type of project is particularly involved.
"Obviously, it's taken longer than a normal type of park project that is built on land," Bado said. "There's a lot of money involved, and it's complex to build a project on water."
Bado said that the city can't just put some playground equipment down on a vacant lot and call it a park. He said that there is a lot of structural engineering that goes into building a 2-acre pier.
For example, he said, the project needs permits from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which it has already received.
It also needs permits from the Army Corp of Engineers, which are still being processed.
"My understanding is that the Corp has accepted [the project], but we haven't gotten the official sign-off yet," Bado said. "We expect to get that sometime in June."
Bado added that the permitting process with the Corp of Engineers was delayed several months because many of the area engineers were dispatched to New Orleans to aid in the repair of the levees that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.