Plans to renovate Pier A, the last remaining pier on the lower west side, are staggering forward again. The Victorian-era three-story pier was built immediately after the Brooklyn Bridge, using much of the same equipment, and was once one of the city’s proudest points of entry, boasting visits from boldface names like Amelia Earhart and the Queen of England. Today it’s a dilapidated eyesore that clashes with the rest of the lavishly rehabilitated west side waterfront, and Governor Spitzer’s office is stepping in to coordinate renovations.

Of course, we’ve been here before. In 2005 a surge of excitement about the pier's restoration – first proposed during the Koch administration – fizzled out in a dispute between the New York Waterways ferry company and the city; the ferry company had been leasing the pier and planned to expand operations at the location, but in 2006 the city's Economic Development Corporation refused to grant permission because of litigation over the slow pace of renovation. Last year, the city bought back the lease for $8 million.

012208pierA2.jpgOnce again the plan hinges on the National Park Service using the ground floor of the 19th century building for security and screening for Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tourists. But the Park Service involvement – or lack thereof – was another factor in the stymied plans of 2006 when the deal broke down in D.C.

This time is going to be different! The Battery Park City Authority, controlled by Spitzer, will sell bonds to finance the $30 million renovation. Officials hope the Park Service will oversee the Liberty and Ellis Island tours from the pier and share the ground floor with retail and dining. The Authority has begun searching for an architect to design the renovation, which could be done in as soon as 2011. Or maybe 2013.

Photo of the pier as it looks today by Knobelsp.