It’s official: It’s no park

The Brooklyn Paper
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A park is a park, and a project a project. As a policy, The Brooklyn Papers has, when reporting on the proposed development along the Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO waterfronts, generally referred to it as a “project” or a “development,” but certainly not a park.

And we’ve taken a lot of flack for it.

State officials and backers of the plan — which they devilishly labeled Brooklyn Bridge Park — have claimed The Papers’ refusal to use the term “park” in our coverage exposed a bias.

We have no bias. We’re just sticking with the facts.

Faced with a lawsuit by proponents of a REAL park, Brooklyn Bridge Park officials felt compelled this week to concede the accuracy of The Papers’ terminology. Lawyers for the Empire State Development Corporation — notice the lack of the word “park” in the agency’s name — finally abandoned their use of the term “park.”

In state Supreme Court in Brooklyn on Wednesday, where the ESDC is defending its plan to put luxury apartments along the waterfront, state lawyer David Paget backed up our semantics.

“The project,” Paget said, “encompasses park and development.”

The “project,” he said. Imagine that.

No longer was the state clinging to the fiction that its waterfront housing and commercial development (with some pseudo-public open space promised down the road) is a “park.”

Words are powerful things, and how anything is described — be it a city’s master plan for an area, a neighborhood’s finding itself renamed by a real-estate agent, or a screaming headline above an otherwise well-balanced story — goes a long way toward people’s understanding of it.

For us, the Empire State Development Corporation’s use of the term “park” to describe this “project” has always been a way to hide the fact that the state has, from the very beginning, been intent on developing the waterfront with condominiums, restaurants, hotels and the like — all the while appeasing the public with suggestions of green space in the guise of a park.

A park that is — now, by its backers own admission — not really a park.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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