City Parks Commissioner Adrien Benepe is licking his lips at the prospect of the city taking control over the development and administration of Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Currently, the state is the lead agency in developing the 85−acre waterfront park spanning from the Manhattan Bridge to Atlantic Avenue.
The park currently has about $231 million available from city and state allocations with a $350 million estimated full park build−out cost.
Speaking to this newspaper, Benepe said that while negotiations between the city and state over control of the park are ongoing, he feels that ultimately something will be worked out. “It’s something the mayor would like to see and City Hall would like to see and we have a lot of experience managing parks, and also working with non−profits managing parks,” said Benepe.
Benepe noted that the Parks Department currently partners with the Central Park and Battery Park Conservancies in Manhattan as well as the Prospect Park Alliance in managing parks.
“The good news is the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation (BBPDC) already has been getting in place the ability to operate the park in its opening days. They are recruiting staff and getting ready to be the park manager as well as park developer,” Benepe said.
Benepe also gave high praise to BBPDC President and Brooklynite Regina Myer, calling her a great public servant.
“If you cut her she bleeds public parks in Brooklyn, so we in the city and the Parks Department have a great deal of confidence in her,” said Benepe.
Benepe, though, seemed less impressed with State Sen. Daniel Squadron’s recent proposal to fund maintenance of the park with a portion of revenue generated through rezoning areas within .4 miles of the park.
“We’ve seen his idea, but there’s no successful model for that just yet, and so it seems unlikely that will happen,” said Benepe.
Benepe said, on the other hand, there is a lot more certainty in having a small portion of the park accommodate market−rate residential housing along with a hotel and restaurant in the park to help pay for its annual maintenance.
There is a model for that as it has worked in Hudson River Park, said Benepe.His comments came as this newspaper’s sister publication, The Brooklyn Paper, reported that River Cafe owner Michael O’Keeffe is concerned about how the iconic eatery will be incorporated into the park.
BBPDC spokesperson Warner Johnston called the River CafÉ “a unique New York dining experience” that for more than 30 years has lured both visitors and New Yorkers to Brooklyn’s Waterfront.
“That is why we are working with the River CafÉ to ensure that they are a part of Brooklyn Bridge Park and a destination favorite for years to come,” he said.