It seemed this spring that billionaire Barry Diller's dream of a park/performance venue hovering over the Hudson River would actually become a reality, after it got the go-ahead from the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with construction as soon as this summer. But the $130 million park, dubbed Pier 55, has been facing a legal challenge from the City Club of New York, a good government group, and though a Manhattan judge dismissed their suit earlier this spring, a state appellate court yesterday granted a preliminary injunction ordering that work on the park stop at least until this September.

The park's funding is coming almost entirely from a foundation formed by Diller and his wife, fashion mogul Diane von Furstenberg: the two have committed $113 million to its construction, with the rest of the funding coming from the city and state. Diller started pitching ideas for the park back in 2012, but the public wasn't made aware of those plans until November 2014, and in a lawsuit filed last summer, the City Club argued that the Hudson River Park Trust, with which Diller and von Furstenberg partnered for the project, "violated the public trust doctrine by alienating public parkland to Pier55, Inc., a private entity."

The suit also argued that the Trust hadn't provided adequate opportunity for public comment and had rushed through environmental review processes, despite concerns that the 300 columns on which the park would rest would disturb the surrounding aquatic life. The project is now halted, and, depending on a forthcoming ruling, may have to undergo another environmental review.

Michael Gruen, president of the City Club, called the appellate court's ruling a "valuable step in ensuring that this secretive and misguided project will not get off the ground, potentially damaging the environment of the Estuarine Sanctuary in which the island would be located, until the courts have definitively determined whether all applicable laws have been complied with." The Club's lawyer, Richard Emery, said that the court's ruling "confirms that Diller Island would cause irreparable harm to the Hudson River and to the public," and he's hopeful that they'll successfully put a permanent stop to the plan.

The park is planned to go near 14th street, between the pile fields of Pier 54 and Pier 56. Its early plans were only seen by a small group of people, including Hudson River Park Trust CEO Madelyn Wills and chair Diana Taylor. And before the public had much chance to give any input on the park, Diller had already gone ahead and appointed a group of prominent producers such as George Wolfe, Stephen Daldry, and Scott Rudin to put on events at the park, which are intended to generate revenue that will help sustain it.

In a statement, a Pier 55 spokesperson said that "by continuing its misguided crusade, the City Club is obstructing the will of the local community and undermining a much-needed effort to create new public parks in New York City. This is a temporary delay for a project that has won approval from all levels of government and consistently withstood legal scrutiny. We are committed to making Pier55 a reality and providing nearly three acres of public green space for all New Yorkers to enjoy."

The Hudson River Park Trust has insisted that it followed the law and invited public comment on the project, and said in a statement on the court's most recent ruling that "this time-wasting and out-of-touch lawsuit is an insult not just to the local community board, which overwhelmingly supports this project, but to the New Yorkers from across the city who will enjoy this park for years to come...It has become dishearteningly clear that this case has nothing to do with environmental impacts, and not once have the plaintiffs produced an expert who can say the project will cause environmental harm."

Indeed, though environmental concerns might be enough to get a court-ordered delay on the park's construction, the real outrage has been over the fact that a billionaire can dream up an island thrust out over the Hudson River and present it to the public essentially as a done deal, keeping even politicians representing the district out of the loop.

"It's been a project born in secrecy and foisted on the city and public without proper procedures," Emery told the Times. "We're challenging that nontransparent process."