The posh River Café has dished up a $3-million complaint against everyone associated with last summer’s tree-killing Waterfalls art installation, charging that salty mist from the falls damaged the eatery’s manicured grounds and facilities.
The complaint, filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court on June 29, blames everyone from the city Parks and Recreation Department to the artist Olafur Eliasson for killing trees and warping the windows, lighting and painting, among other alleged misfortunes, due to the design and location of the man-made cascade beneath the Brooklyn Bridge.
The suit says that the River Café, owned by Michael “Buzzy” O’Keeffe, “continues to suffer damage and business loss as a result of the defendant’s negligence.”
Despite the court paperwork seeking $2.983 million in damages, O’Keeffe told The Brooklyn Paper that “the River Café is not suing anyone.” He declined to elaborate.
Earlier in the week, he was more talkative. He told the New York Post, the Manhattan tabloid that first reported the litigation, that the spray from the Waterfalls “left the place destroyed.”
“They did nothing. They knew it was happening, but the waterfall kept on going,” O’Keeffe told the Post.
The the Public Art Fund denied that Eliasson’s art spigot caused substantial briny harm.
“Trees and other vegetation impacted by the waterfalls have almost without exception shown excellent new growth this spring. The few trees that may need to be specifically addressed are being addressed,” said Gabby Fisher, a spokeswoman for the group. The lawsuit culminates almost a year of denunciations by O’Keeffe and others in Brooklyn Heights about damage inflicted on flora from the nearby cataract.
Last October, the Brooklyn Heights Association revealed a soil study that showed levels of salt 10 times higher than normal in samples taken from the River Café. The report also showed elevated levels on the fabled Promenade, though far lower than at the refined restaurant.
That high-sodium diet allegedly contributed to the silent spring in the Weeping Birches at the River Cafe, as the trees failed or delayed to grow new leaves.
The Brooklyn Heights Association says however that foliage on the Promenade recuperated from the misty monster.
“The plants are coming back,” said Judy Stanton, the group’s executive director. “The Parks Department did a soil test and the levels were normal.”
The waterfall near the River Café was one of four included in Eliasson’s landscape East River exhibit, which ran from June to October.