The West 105th Street staircase in Riverside Park may soon be getting a revamp like its neighbor staircase at West 102nd Street. Community Board 7’s joint Parks & Environment and Transportation Committees met on January 23 to discuss.
Margaret Bracken from the Department of Parks and Recreation presented plans for the reconstruction of the two existing and deteriorating staircases at West 105th Street and Riverside Drive. These steps connect the passive area of Riverside Park along the promenade level to the active recreation area along waterfront below.
The project would involve removing and resetting the granite risers, though it is expected that the existing risers will be reused. The pavement incline will be replaced with a “bit of repointing.” The foundation underneath is reportedly in “fairly good” condition, but portions will need to be replaced. ADA-compliant handrails will be installed down the center of the staircases, and guard rails will be reinstalled on the top of the walls.
The park is landmarked, so any features that will be replaced will need to retain the historic palette. This includes the natural cleft New York State Bluestone sandstone and the Milford pink granite, the same style as the West 102nd Street staircase, which is currently under construction.
The total budget for the two 105th Street staircases is estimated at $2.7 million with the funding as follows: $200,000 from the borough president, $1.5 million from city council, and $1 million from a mayoral contribution. The West 102nd Street budget was just under $2 million.
Only minor concerns were expressed when it came time to talk dollars and cents. The original steps are from the 1930s, and the lift expectancy of the upgrade is at least fifty years, according to Bracken, who also confirmed that reconstructing the steps is ultimately a safety issue given their decline over the last eighty plus years.
A formal resolution was not voted on but all Parks & Environment Committee members who voted did so in favor of the project that Bracken presented. Non-committee members followed suit. Bracken expects to present to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in a couple of weeks.
If the LPC ultimately approves the project, the construction will be broken into two phases so that the staircases aren’t impacted at the same time. The restroom near the ramps, which at least one person in attendance suggested could use an upgrade, will not be impacted by the project because there is no funding to improve or modify this part of the park.