Brooklyn Bridge Park: The City Steps In
December 8th, 2009
Gotham Gazette parks topic page writer Anne Schwartz filed this post.
Promising to spend an additional $55 million on the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge Park, the city is proposing to take over responsibility for the project from the financially strapped state. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe discussed the proposal at a town hall meeting last night sponsored by State Sen. Daniel Squadron, who was elected in part because of his opposition to the existing plan to bookend the park with high-rise condos.
While many in the overflowing room came hoping that city control would mean a fresh look at the design and funding mechanism, the city’s proposal — while adding active recreation and another access point, committing to building the park ahead of the development, and opening the door to more community involvement — looked very much like the current controversial plan.
Brooklyn residents have been asking for a park and active recreation on the downtown Brooklyn waterfront for 25 years, and many were angry when the final plan by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp., the city-state authority overseeing the project, greatly altered the original design developed with extensive community input. The most controversial change was the inclusion of residential towers to meet the requirement — set as a condition for creating the park — that upkeep would be paid for by commercial development on part of the site.
Squadron said he had asked the city to bring its proposal to the public while still in the discussion stage and added that he hoped the meeting would be a step toward “lowering some of the temperature,” and bringing people together for more of a shared vision. Several speakers in the audience made a point of noting that what they heard and saw at the meeting represented a step in the right direction, even though they would like to see further changes.
Audience member Dorothy Siegel summed up the reaction of the crowd with this comment to the commissioner: “We are hoping that you will take back to the mayor the overwhelming sentiment that we do not want housing and we want active recreation.”By Gail Robinson on December 8, 2009, 5:07 pm
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