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Foreshore improvement has been an ongoing preoccupation in Port Melbourne for at least the last 25 years. Port Phillip Council continues to involve the community in thinking of ways to energise Port Melbourne’s waterfront.

Chelsea Waterside Park has been ‘our’ place for the past two weeks. The generous waterfront pathway is used by walkers and joggers. A beautiful green lawn (think South Beach, St Kilda but with mounding at the edges) separates pedestrians from the bike greenway. There is ample seating. Considering how very pleasant it is, this section of the Park does not seem to be as well used as Beaconsfield Parade.

press ups, then check the phone

press ups, then check the phone

A brochure explains that Chelsea Waterside Park is part of the 5 mile Hudson River Park – opened in 2010 – the largest open space project to undergo construction in Manhattan since the completion of Central Park.

Rather than the creation of one single space as in Central Park, the Hudson River Park was integrated from a ‘string of diverse geographic components, each with its own peculiar history, physical circumstances, vested interests and legal constraints’. (1) Out of this challenging set of circumstances, an amazing and wonderful 21st century ‘green shoreline’  has been created that offers an experience for absolutely everybody. Work continues on the development of new areas of the Park as it is only 70% complete. ‘It is the product of civic vision, legal and financial creativity, and tireless advocacy extending over generations.’ (2)

We walked from Chelsea Piers to Battery Park, the southern most part of Manhattan. Along the way, we experienced the most astounding array of open spaces – multiple children’s play areas with fun water features, habitat gardens, formally landscaped gardens, sports fields, tennis courts, basket ball courts, dog runs, skate parks and  table tennis. And that is not all …

places to exercise - fake turf like at Princes Pier

places to exercise – fake turf like at Princes Pier

With a local government background, I always want to know how  infrastructure and maintenance are funded and what the governance arrangements are. While capital investment has come from the City and the State, Hudson River Park receives no government funds for its operations and maintenance. The funds come from limited revenues generated from within the Park and private donations. (Hudson River Park brochure) The Park is impeccably maintained with amenities such as water fountains, seating and toilets provided along its considerable length.

Striking is the de-coupling of places to sit from coffee shops. Abundant seating is provided, in a range of combinations. configurations and styles, mostly under beautiful shade trees.

lovely places to sit

lovely places to sit

The Park has its own legislation. Governance of the Park is by the Hudson River Park Trust, a public benefit corporation, which is a partnership between New York State and City, charged with the design, construction and operation of the five-mile Hudson River Park.

And as for funding:  ‘Construction of Hudson River Park occurs as funding becomes available. Every year, the State and City budget processes identify the amount that will be available for new construction. The Trust generally does not know from year to year how much we will have to work with. We meet this challenge by advancing design on multiple projects in different budget ranges so that we can maintain forward momentum once a given year’s construction budget is established.’ (3)

The Trust is supported by the Friends of the Hudson River Park who advocate for the completion of the park and raise funds for the Park.

(1) Rutherford H Platt in vol 51, no 4, p48 July/August 2009

(2) as above p51

(3) Hudson River Park – explore!


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