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Bridge too far? Squibb-to-Bklyn-Bridge-Park footpath costs soar

The Brooklyn Paper
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The cost of a proposed footbridge from Brooklyn Heights to Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 — a key amenity for residents seeking quick access to the world-class park — jumped 26 percent after park officials upgraded the design then failed to find a contractor who could meet the original budget.

On Monday, Brooklyn Bridge Park announced that Kelco Construction won a $6.2-million contract to design the Squibb Park Bridge, a 400-foot timber structure that will link Columbia Heights to the verdant park below that was budgeted to cost $4.9 million.

City planning experts called the 26-percent cost increase common in city government but still significant.

“This is a big miss, and when they miss it by that much there’s got to be a goddamned good reason,” said former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, who is now a fellow at the NYU Wagner School for Public Service. “Sometimes development [agencies] lowball figures because they want to make the project seem smaller.”

Officials at Brooklyn Bridge Park said that the $4.9-million estimate was for the bridge and design “soft costs,” but that the project has evolved to include more lighting, handicapped accessibility and upgrades to Squibb Park’s existing infrastructure.

“As with any competitive bidding process, the market dictates actual costs,” said park spokeswoman Ellen Ryan.

The bridge — which will be completed by next fall and zigzag between the future luxury condo and hotel complex at Pier 1 — won’t increase the park’s construction budget but will instead be paid for with funds in reserve.

A former city official, who asked not to be named, said that $4.9 million “sounded too low for the bridge,” and that the over-budgeting was “not at all surprising.”

The former official said that city agencies will often narrow the scope of a project — or scrap it altogether — to make up for funding gaps. For instance, when the MTA was extending the No. 7 train to Times Square in 2008, it killed one of two stations in the project to save money.

The Squibb Park Bridge has always had a rocky road to funding. In 2009, Mayor Bloomberg trimmed $8 million from Brooklyn Bridge Park’s construction budget, killing the footbridge until the Council and Borough President Markowitz allocated money the following year.

Roy Sloane, president of the Cobble Hill Association, said the bridge was mainly an amenity to the future hotel slated for Pier 1 and should be paid for by a developer, not city taxpayers.

“Why can’t the hotel build its own bridge?” Sloane said. “This is the kind of cost inflation the park has incurred all along, only to suit a massive real estate development.”

Reach Kate Briquelet at kbriquelet@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.
Updated 5:28 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jesus Bloomberg from 11249 says:
There isn't money to build the Bushwick Inlet Park, but we can drop $10 million on an unnecessary vanity bridge across two lanes of traffic. Crumb bum cronyism is alive and well. All heil boss bloomberg, the king of cronyism. The cronyist crony since tweed left town.
Dec. 6, 2011, 11:31 am
Anon from Brooklyn Heights says:
Amen! Add to the list of cronyism gone mad is Senator Daniel Squadron who gave away the park to private real estate interests by agreeing to more housing... he gets his money from the hotel union.
Dec. 6, 2011, 12:29 pm
Mike says:
Not just a bridge across two lanes: it provides safe pedestrian access between the Heights and the park. All the other access routes are steep and/or dangerous.
Dec. 6, 2011, 2:51 pm
montie from Brooklyn says:
This bridge will delight those who buy apartments in the soon to be sold Squibb buildings, but not many others. The logical connection is via Montague Street, where people actually walk and where local businesses would benefit from the added traffic.
Dec. 6, 2011, 4:49 pm
Park lover from Brooklyn says:
For the record, both the Squibb Park Bridge and the hotel on Pier 1 have been part of the Park Plan at least since the original Illustrative Master Plan adopted by the LDC (after extensive public outreach and input) over a decade ago. Roy Sloane was one of the LDC Board Members who approved that plan. Can anyone spell hypocrite? Also, whatever the merits of a Montague Street connection might be, the Squibb Park Bridge will provide the most direct possible route for the kids at PS 8 to the Park. Does anyone object to that?
Dec. 6, 2011, 5:33 pm
Park lover from Brooklyn says:
For the record, both the Squibb Park Bridge and the hotel on Pier 1 have been part of the Park Plan at least since the original Illustrative Master Plan adopted by the LDC (after extensive public outreach and input) over a decade ago. Roy Sloane was one of the LDC Board Members who approved that plan. Can anyone spell hypocrite? Also, whatever the merits of a Montague Street connection might be, the Squibb Park Bridge will provide the most direct possible route for the kids at PS 8 to the Park. Does anyone object to that?
Dec. 6, 2011, 5:33 pm
Muhamad Bloomberg from 11211 says:
I object to that. Let the kids get some exercise and walk an extra block, and let kids in other neighborhoods get parks. Stop taxing everyone and letting the crumb bums give it all away to the neighborhoods where they and their friends live. Squadron, Bloomberg and the whole lot are running the same scheme Boss Tweed put into practice years ago. Developers have been handed millions of taxpayer dollars with incidental benefits to a very small number of people in a very small number of neighborhoods.
Dec. 6, 2011, 6:06 pm
JohnQ from Brooklyn says:
Definition of hypocrisy: having all your neighbors spend years fighting off housing in front of your community and then double crossing them by supporting the building the very housing you did not want in front of their communities once your neighborhood had been spared! Moaning for years about how residential development is needed to pay for the park and then demanding that the public-- not the developers-- pay for a bridge to provide the new condo/hotel with a BH's entrance would have to be a pretty close second.
Dec. 6, 2011, 10:38 pm
Harry from Da Heights! says:
Roy Sloane's question is right on the money. This is just more of the same from a bunch of real estate developers posing as the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. Bad enough the Bridge plan was hijacked and turned into this ridiculously expensive front lawn for condo and hotel developers, adding ridiculously expensive "amenities" to pump up the maintenance costs to justify selling parkland for development, but now the hand just keeps going in the public pocket! Where's the pool? Where's the ballfield? Y'know, the stuff that actually belongs in a public park? What are "wave attenuators" that are necessary for safe KAYAKING????? Is that free marina still in the plans for rich people to park their boats on the public dime?

And whoever is attacking Roy Sloane sure sounds like a certain Conservancy person! He's been fighting the good fight on this for almost 20 years. What have you been doing, other than getting a check for the last 5?
Dec. 7, 2011, 8:09 am
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
There is an inconsistency in the article. It cites 8 million dollars being trimmed from the budget for the bridge. The Bridge came in at 6.2 million. While that's more than the estimate, its less than was originally budgeted? An estimate is only an estimate. Sometimes the actuals are more sometimes(more rarely) less. Anyone who builds anything can tell you that.
In my opinion it would help the Brooklyn Paper's credibility if they get other people than Roy Sloane and Judi Francis- who if I am not mistaken are married to each other, to quote for these articles. In the three articles in the last week about Brooklyn Bridge Park, one quoted Roy, one quoted Judi and the last quoted them both. Can't you find someone else to ask? There are elected public officials who have taken stands on this.
Dec. 7, 2011, 9:52 am
Harry from Da Heights! says:
It might be hard to find any elected officials who still have any credibility left on the subject of Brooklyn Bridge Park
Dec. 7, 2011, 11:35 am
Richard from DUMBO says:
Amen, Harry, amen.
Dec. 8, 2011, 2:53 pm

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