Jane’s Carousel is good news for Brooklyn Bridge ‘Park’

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Kids of all ages got some good news this week when the developers of Brooklyn Bridge Park accepted Jane Walentas’s gift of her restored 1920s-era carousel for a spot in what is currently Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park.

Of course, critics of Walentas’s husband, the DUMBO development titan David Walentas, seized on the announcement as another chance to take a deep quaff from the mug of Haterade.

Yes, David Walentas is controversial. Yes, he has made an enormous fortune from his decision decades ago to buy up warehouses and turn them into a thriving — and expensive — boutique community.

Yes, he sometimes treats the neighborhood like his own little fiefdom (though the guy gets credit for keeping out the homogenized chain stores that are turning every other neighborhood into Anytown, U.S.A).

Yes, his desire to build a tall apartment tower near the Brooklyn Bridge last year annoyed some people who say that views of the bridge would be obscured.

And, yes, Brooklyn Bridge Park could have done a better job of making sure the Walentases went through a transparent process before signing off on the carousel and its glass-walled, Jean Nouvel-designed pavilion.

And yes, some DUMBO anti-development types are still angry at Nouvel for his desire to build a fancy hotel on what is now the Pier 1 portion of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

But come on, people, let it go — we are talking about a merry-go-round here!

Jane Walentas deserves credit, not scorn, for her desire to see the carousel — which she salvaged and restored — find a home that benefits the larger community. And her offer to bring in one of the world’s greatest architects to design its corresponding pavilion is good news for anyone who appreciates fine design over the kind of bland pap that city bureaucrats would likely create.

The larger issue is that the carousel is part of a round of positive news that Brooklyn Bridge Park development officials have been able to trumpet this year — and that may be why opponents are so frustrated. Of course, this newspaper has long decried the development scheme that finances the park’s maintenance budget through housing and other commercial operations inside the footprint, but for now, we are all benefiting from increased open space, new playgrounds and, yes, the Walentases’ offer of a carousel.

Updated 5:18 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Publius from Bklyn Heights says:
And yes, Walentas was Brooklyn Paper's landlord during the Dock Street nabka. And yes, the Brooklyn Paper shilled for their landlord. And yes, the Brooklyn Paper board did not disclose their material business relationship with their landlord when they wrote pro-Walentas, pro-Dock Street "editorials".

May 20, 2010, 8:47 am
Joe from Greenpoint says:
Give it up people it's a free carrousel! You're too stuck up to accept a free carrousel in your park because of some gripes with a developer? Don't look a gift horse in the mouth BK Heights and DUMBO, even if it's a wooden horse. Lots of other neighborhoods in NYC would love to have a Carrousel and we don't have rich developers trying their darnedest to give them to us. Not to mention, you're not the only ones who have say in what goes in this State Park. Thousands of taxpayers and their children from all over New York State would like to come use this park too and have their kids take a ride on a Carrousel and none of them give a fart who Jane Walentas is.
May 20, 2010, 2:38 pm
Jon from South Brooklyn says:
Josephine, it's not your park. It belongs to the people of the state of New York. Moreover, it's a carousel, not a trash transfer station, waste water treatment plant or some other noxious! Sorry, but the folks opposing the carousel are coming across like petulant children.
May 21, 2010, 9:30 am
Fourth Estate from DUMBO says:
@Joe, yes, it will be 'free'...until an excuse, like the economy will be made to charge a 'small' fee. And people like yourself will buy the deception hook line and sinker when the bait used will be "think about the children'. so you will pay the small fee. Then the year after, because Walentas needs a new back scratcher, the fee will increase. Of course, he will have an excuse for that increase ready, in fact, his marketing team probably already have excuses lined up for every single increase until the deal is $10 a pop.
May 23, 2010, 1:42 am
Andy from Dumbo says:
I agree! Let it go. It's a beautiful carousel and I'm sure many of the children in the neighborhood would enjoy it. There's much bigger and important things to spend energy on.

As to the development of Dumbo issue I'm still hoping they build a Whole Foods in the neighborhood.
May 23, 2010, 7:07 pm
Fourth Estate from DUMBO says:

The best bet for a Wholefoods would be Admiral's Row, if they are going to build a supermarket I rather it be a Wholefoods or FairWay.
May 25, 2010, 10:20 am
M from Brooklyn Heights says:
Why does everything have to be a theme/entertainment park?
Why couldn't this remain a green, peaceful refuge?
And the glass enclosure? How can it be a good idea to put a glass structure in a park?
Aug. 22, 2014, 6:23 pm

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