In 2005, the NYC Economic Development Corporation launched a plan to dramatically redevelop the waterfront of the Lower East Side and Chinatown, yet the plan was not viewed as sensitive to the local community’s needs. In response, Hester Street (HST) worked with the O.U.R. (Organizing & Uniting Residents) Waterfront Coalition to conduct a visioning process to incorporate community participation and input into the renovation of this important public space. HST compiled the results of this visioning process in a document called “A People’s Plan for the East River Waterfront.” Released in 2009, the Plan highlights the differences between the community’s vision and the NYC EDC’s plans for the space. Using the plan, O.U.R. Waterfront successfully advocated for the transfer of Pier 42 to the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, and for the initial $14 million of capital funding to start the master planning and construction process at Pier 42.
Waterfront on Wheels (2011)
After the release of “The People’s Plan for the East River Waterfront,” funding was secured to convert Pier 42 into public parkland, including a community master planning process. Between 2011-2013, HST conducted a series of workshops to engage local residents around envisioning the future for public park space on the East River waterfront, specifically around Pier 42. Called the Waterfront on Wheels, these workshops utilized a scale model of the Lower East Side waterfront attached to a bike trolley, which was brought to schools, parks, and community spaces all over the neighborhood.