NEW YORK (AP) _ Move over, Central Park.

The Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday cleared the way for a major new park along the west side of Manhattan. The corps issued a permit allowing major construction of Hudson River Park, a five-mile strip along the river from the island's southern tip to 59th Street.

``This is a momentous occasion, one that New Yorkers have been awaiting for years,'' said Robert Balachandran, president of the Hudson River Park Trust, a fund-raising group.

``Now the Hudson River Park Trust can do what state law has charged us with doing _ building the largest park in New York since Central Park,'' he said.

City and state permits were issued more than a year ago and the first 1,000-foot section at the southern end, featuring green space and benches facing the New Jersey skyline, was opened in September. Federal approval was required for the overall project, primarily for environmental reasons.

The section is already popular with joggers, bikers and others in the crowded city. The 550-acre park will include 13 piers, beaches, overlooks for fishing and other facilities.

Marcy Benstock, founder of the Clean Air Campaign, said the plan would lead to commercial development blocking views of the river and severely disrupting its ecology.

``Unless there is a provision for public comment on this permit, there definitely will be legal action,'' said Benstock, whose 1980s lawsuit was instrumental in blocking a riverfront project called Westway.