Make ‘park’ a real park

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn Bridge Park — which was conceived decades ago as a public park along Brooklyn’s world-class waterfront — has seen nothing but bad news so far this year.

And we’re still in January.

First, officials with the state development agency that’s overseeing the condo and open space project announced that they had abandoned a plan to build a hotel on Furman Street near Old Fulton Street, a lodge that would have expansive vistas of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Lower Manhattan skyline.

Then, last week, the Brookyn Bridge Park Development Corporation admitted that it was also no longer pursuing the construction of roughly 800 units of luxury housing inside the park.

Here’s the problem: the hotel and condo units — along with an undetermined amount of additional commercial and residential development — were touted by state officials as the only way to raise revenue to cover the annual maintenance budget for the development’s public open space.

We’ve long questioned the notion of establishing such a dedicated revenue stream, but the project’s advocates have argued that such a funding scheme is necessary or else there would be no park at all.

Now this debate is framed anew, given the latest flops and last year’s endless parade of bad news: delays in the construction timeline, cost overruns that have more than doubled the original $150-million construction budget, and then the stunning announcement that, for now at least, the much-touted “world class park” will consist only of small passive recreation areas on Pier 1 at the foot of Old Fulton Street and Pier 6 at the foot of Atlantic Avenue — a tiny portion of the park’s footprint.

Taken together, it is reasonable to conclude that the Brooklyn Bridge Park development project must be abandoned and replaced with what many area residents have been calling for for decades: a simple public park, along the entire 1.3-mile stretch.

Not a waterfront development with an open space component.

Not a scheme to build a backyard for residents of 1,300 units — or more! — of luxury housing and the hotel guests.

No, a real, albeit modest, public park that would be maintained from the same pool of money that maintains every other public park.

Building a much-less grandiose public park along the waterfront — not the fantasyland that the development agency envisions — would require far less cash than the hundreds of millions of dollars (and still going!) that the state planners say they need.

And we’d all get what we’ve sought for decades: access to our beautiful waterfront — a goal that keeps eluding our illustrious state planners.

Updated 5:10 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Publius from Bklyn Hgts says:
Finally, people are coming to their senses.

How shortsighted to believe the vagaries and cycles of the private sector wouldn't doom this funding experiment.

Let's have a real park, with grass, fields, playgrounds.

We don't want to recreate Versailles on the East River. More active uses that don't require tens of millions of annual upkeep, funded by a variety of concessions: restaurants, events, bike rental, skating, concerts.

Now if we can only convince our officials like the Beep, and the City Council that the same doomed real estate market applies to the foolhearty Dock Street giveaway. You should recognize it too Gersh. At least the Brooklyn Paper has it half right.
Jan. 23, 2009, 12:52 am
David from Park Slope says:
If any of you had actually bothered to pay attention during the original planning process, you'd know that the upkeep costs are not so much related to some attempt to turn this into "Versaille".

The vast majority of the long-term costs that the ill-fated apartments has to do with the costs of maintaining wood-piling supported piers into the future - you know, so that they don't go floating - with the park along with it - down into New York Harbor.

The park design makes this more than a park with grass, fields and playgrounds - though those are all major components as well. To say otherwise is to be deceitful and to buy into the anti-park nonsense of Judi Francis et al. It's not that they don't like THIS park - they don't want ANY park.

The design also made this a uniquely WATERFRONT park - so to the extent that there were any more "not just a basic park" elements - they were there to re-connect Brooklynites to the water in a way that they haven't been in decades. Kayaking, that sort of thing.

Anyway, it's no surprise that the Brooklyn Papers is anti-Park. Their coverage of this issue is disingenuous and duplicitous. Rather than just report - due to the economic crisis, the park planners are doing the responsible thing and revisiting their funding scheme - they have to gloat about it.

Only in the Brooklyn Papers would you read something as ludicrous as their breathless reporting of the "stunning announcement" that "for now at least" the park will consist "only of small passive recreation areas on Pier 1 at the foot of Old Fulton Street and Pier 6 at the foot of Atlantic Avenue".

Belts are being tightened everywhere - why should Brooklyn Bridge Park be any different? Rather than laud the fact that after 20 years there are areas on Pier 1 and Pier 6 that are OPEN and ACCESSIBLE for the public, and that there actually is PARK being added to the City's infrastructure, these are presented as failures.

This paper does a disservice to the entire community with their continued dissembling of the facts and distortion of real progress.
Jan. 23, 2009, 1:44 pm
Gersh Kuntzman (Brooklyn Paper) says:
The Brooklyn Paper has been covering plans for the Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO waterfront for 30 years.

The Paper is not "anti-park," as David from Park Slope states. Editorially, we've supported construction of a practical and easily accessible park; in our news columns, we've sought to present an honest picture. The fact is that during the economic boom just ended, the state's project planners, obsessed with housing and commercial development over open space and public access, built nothing along the waterfront.

David states that "there are areas on Pier 1 and Pier 6 that are OPEN and ACCESSIBLE for the public." This is not a statement of fact. Those areas are not open to the public.

The Brooklyn Paper does a service to the community by continuing to cover this issue when most other newspapers choose not to.

GERSH KUNTZMAN Editor The Brooklyn Paper
Jan. 23, 2009, 4:17 pm
Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
A "park" that has to have private housing in it in order to be "self-sufficient" is not a park at all. Sounds more like a gated community.

Funny that this "park" needs to be self-sufficient, but Yankee Stadium does not. How about we put a couple apartment towers in the power alleys to pay the debt service on the Yankees' bonds, instead of saddling the taxpayers by allowing the Yankees to forego taxes?

The claim that opponents of the current plan for Brooklyn Bridge Park don't want a park at all is spurious. We want a park alright -- minus the private residences. New Yorkers deserve truly public parks -- not privatized "parks" and publicly subsidized ballparks.
Jan. 25, 2009, 12:35 am
David from Park Slope says:
Dear Brooklyn "Paper"

Are those not members of the public accessing Pier One? Or are they just cardboard cutouts photo shopped in by Van Valkenburgh?

I suppose disputing that those are actual people enjoying Pier One last summer are the kinds of "facts" your readers can expect from this bastion of community "journalism."

There is nothing honest in your description of the Van Valkenburgh plan by putting "park" in parentheses, nor in the hysterical cries of the Francis crew, which suffers from historical amnesia.

You might reasonably disagree with the plan - and you might reasonably dispute the inclusion of housing at the park's fringes - but that doesn't make it not a park, and it doesn't make the planners "obsessed" with housing, when it accounts for a miniscule percentage of the land being turned into open space.

As professional "journalists" there is a reasonable assumption that you are reporting on issues objectively and fairly. You fail on that consistently.

Jan. 26, 2009, 11:41 am
Gersh Kuntzman (Brooklyn Paper) says:
Pier One was open to the public this summer, but it is now closed and dismantled. It does show the promise of a simple park plan outlined in this week's editorial.

As policy, The Paper puts "park" in quotation marks for a reason: Calling it a park (without quotation marks) would be false. Even the state, in court documents, doesn't call it a park, instead using the term "civic and land-use project." (See our editorial here:

We've further explained our rationale for doing so here:

Thanks for the feedback!
Jan. 26, 2009, 2:16 pm
William Harris from Boerum Hill says:
Rant and promise all who may, this "park" will not be finally ready for development until about 2025. That's when the rebuilding of the
"triple-decker" part of the BQE is complete. At that time, the full footprint of the planned area will be clear of NYS DOT activity. This delay is undeniable even though BBP officials
will claim otherwise. To avert this delay I pro-
pose tunneling BQE under Brooklyn Heights from
Atlantic to Flushing Avenues and then revising all of the now-planned infrastructure related to the "rebuild." This should save some time and let the "park" unfold.
Jan. 26, 2009, 3:23 pm
Robin from Heights says:
Thank you, Brooklyn Paper, for your thoughtful, award-winning and wonderful editorials on Brooklyn Bridge Park. I am one of countless others who have felt this park plan is ridiculous. And where will they get the money to build it in this economy? They are running around spending every last dime on berms and greeery for the real estate that they hope will one day turn around. It was ill conceived from the start, their plan to fund the operations from just one thing - real estate. The destructive board of this unaccountable public authority must go. Let's just green up what we have and forget about fancy landscaping. We want a park and not Battery Park City!
Jan. 30, 2009, 5:21 am

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