Red hook fence must come down

The Brooklyn Paper
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“A huge victory for Brooklyn.”

That’s how an attorney for the city characterized a Brooklyn Supreme Court ruling this week ordering the removal of a steel barrier blocking views in the Red Hook Recreational area.

“Red Hook Park is a popular destination with its lively soccer games and family-friendly atmosphere,” attorney Daniel Greene said. “With the removal of the fence, the public will once again be able to enjoy views of the storied Brooklyn waterfront from the park.”

Anyone familiar with Red Hook Recreational Area, located between Bay and Columbia streets, has probably been struck with the incongruity of seeing an 18-foot-tall, 200-foot-long steel fence standing directly in front of benches intended to overlook the Henry Street Basin.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Robert Miller gave Gowanus Industrial Park – the group that originally erected the fence without permission – 90 days to remove it, saying that the barrier “significan­tly and unreasonably restricts the common use of the waterfront and does not serve the public good.”

The owner claimed the fence was needed to prevent trespassers from entering its property.

The city first brought the lawsuit to Kings County Supreme Court in 2005 in an effort to remove the fence and restore the public’s access to the waterfront.

“Red Hook Park is a popular neighborhood destination which offers both active recreational opportunities including handball, basketball, soccer, and fitness, and passive recreation including strolling along the park grounds, communing with friends, and relaxing on a park bench,” Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe said. “The removal of the fence opens up Brooklyn’s picturesque waterfront and gives Brooklyn residents and New Yorkers another reason to visit this fabled community park.”

John McGettrick of the Red Hook Civic Association welcomed this week’s ruling, but lamented that it has taken this long to finally get the fence removed.

“It’s long overdue,” he said. “It was really outrageous. This is a view corridor. It should not be allowed.”

Attorneys arguing for the removal of the fence charged that the fence violated the city’s rights as the waterfront landowner and that it constituted a public nuisance by denying the public physical and visual access to the waterfront.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation also issued a ruling directing the removal of the fence.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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