Duck Pond May be Casualty of Massive BPC Flood Protection Project

The duck pond, one of Battery Park City's favorite attractions for visitors and residents alike, may be in the way of a flood barrier that is planned to go through the park. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Dec. 12, 2022

Mind-numbingly complex is the ongoing work of devising Battery Park City’s most extensive flood barrier system. From as far east as Greenwich Street in Tribeca and as far north as Stuyvesant High School, the fortification against future storm surges and sea level rise will snake all the way down to 1st Place, near the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Walls must be erected, subsurface gates installed, landscape redesigned, and major structures potentially rebuilt. The impact to the neighborhood is yet to be studied.  

The estimated $631 million North/West Battery Park City Resiliency Project is not designed, but the “preferred” path that it will take through the neighborhood’s river-facing landscape is now up for review. Most recently, the Battery Park City Authority and its contractors have been preparing for a legally required environmental impact study of the project. The scope of what to study has been the subject of three public meetings this fall, and the period for comment is still open.

Many questions have been raised about the possible loss of trees, play space, views and more. But one potential casualty, above all others, seems to tear at the heartstrings.

The duck pond.

“Maybe I’m missing it, but is it gone?” Community Board 1 Chair Tammy Meltzer asked during a presentation this month to the board’s Battery Park City Committee. Shown to the committee during its remote meeting was an aerial illustration of the southern end of Rockefeller Park, and there, where the beloved pond would be, was instead a flood barrier. 

Peter Gius with the engineering firm Arcadis, said the fate of the pond was up for discussion with the Battery Park City Authority. “We’ll work with the Authority to respond more specifically about what is the future of the duck pond region and we’ll provide more specific input as to what the concept plan is,” Gius said. “And then we’ll have a comment period on that.” 

“It looks like we kind of wiped it out there,” he added. 

“I love the duck pond. It is such a beautiful feature,” said Committee Chair Justine Cuccia. “People of all ages go to relax and commune with nature. It’s a beautiful little enclave.”

Britni Erez, a Battery Park City parent, said kids go to the pond in the spring to watch ducklings being hatched, and students from local school PS 89 are taken there as well. “The duck pond is such a critical component of our neighborhood character,” she said.

A different, smaller water feature is rendered in the drawing, but it appeared to be no match for the original. “It’s not the same,” Meltzer said bluntly. “It’s not what we’re asking for.”

(In earlier written questions and answers about the entire project, the Battery Park City Authority said that maintaining the current duck pond would “likely be incompatible” with the need for a flood wall, universal access to the area, and avoiding impacts to the Irish Hunger Memorial, which is just to the east of the pond.)

Lee Altman of Scape, the landscape architects on the project, called the feedback valuable to the design process. “It’s very helpful for us to hear directly from you and understand specifically the characteristics and the value of the duck pond,” she said.

(The entire Battery Park City Committee meeting can be viewed here. Comments on what the Environmental Impact Statement should include are open until Dec. 31 and can be sent to

The North/West Battery Park City Resiliency Project, anticipated to be completed in 2027, will be part of a planned flood barrier system (and one of three such projects by the Battery Park City Authority) that will help protect Lower Manhattan from future storm surges and sea level rise. 

Below are the seven reaches, or sections of the project with their preliminary proposed barrier alignments. Each one is being studied separately. Solid red lines indicate above ground, permanent barriers. Dashed lines represent underground flip-up gates or deployable gates that would only be used when needed. All images are by the Battery Park City Authority.