Park, what park?

The Brooklyn Paper
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“It’s My Park Day” is the city’s bi−annual celebration of its parks, during which New Yorkers are encouraged to care for their parks with a variety of clean−up and planning projects.

But some North Brooklyn residents are in no mood to celebrate, and are instead planning a protest. Pointedly entitled “Where’s My Park Day?” they want to call attention to the parks they say they were promised in the 2005 rezoning but have not yet come to fruition.

“We’d love to pitch in on ‘It’s My Park Day,’ but our parks are missing!” reads the flyer for the event, which begins at 2 p.m. on May 16 at the site of the proposed but not−yet­construc­ted Bushwick Inlet Park and proceeds up the Greenpoint waterfront.

The protest is being put together by two community groups: Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) and the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning (GWAPP).

Specifically, they are protesting the current absence of three parks called for in the 2005 rezoning, which enabled high−rise development on the waterfront but promised more parkland to residents of an area with a notoriously low open space ratio: The 28−acre acre Bushwick Inlet Park (N. 9th to Quay Street on Kent Avenue); WNYC Transmitter Park (Greenpoint Avenue at the waterfront); and a site currently owned by the MTA (66 Commercial Street on Newtown Creek).

“In the four years since North Brooklyn was promised parks and open space in the 2005 rezoning, we have not seen even one new blade of grass,” said Susan Albrecht, co−chair of NAG.

The protest will take the form of a “ghost tour” to “shows parks that have been left for dead,” said Emily Gallagher, another NAG member.

“We’re trying to let the city know that we remember these things that were promised and they can’t sweep them under the rug.”

In the memorandum of understanding in the rezoning, the city does not promise to build parks by any specific date.

But Michael Freedman−Schnapp, another co−chair of NAG, says that doesn’t men that the city hasn’t broken any promises.

“If you’re talking about the spirit of the rezoning, which was to provide parks as the area’s population grows, then I think a promise has been broken,” he said.

But things are improving, according to Parks Department Officials.

At a recent Community Board 1 meeting, Stephanie Thayer, the Parks Department Administrator for North Brooklyn parks and the Executive Director of the Open Space Alliance, announced that ground will be broken on Phase I of Bushwick Inlet Park in early June.

This phase, a synthetic turf multipurpose field, will be completed next summer, Thayer said.

Also, Parks Department officials said construction of Phase II of the park – which will include a community building, playground, paths, and a waterfront esplanade – will begin in fall 2009 and finish in early 2011.

Parks Department officials said WNYC Transmitter Park is expected to begin construction in spring 2010, with an expected opening date of summer, 2011.

“With extensive community and public review throughout the planning process, the city is making an historic investment (the largest in any Community Board District) in the creation, improvement, and expansion of parks in Greenpoint and Williamsbu­rg,” read a statement by the Parks Department.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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