A long-delayed waterfront green space is finally open in Sunset Park.
Bush Terminal Park — built atop a formerly toxic brownfield — opened its gates on Nov. 5 after more than 20 years of planning, environmental remediation, and construction.
The park has been a glimmer in the eyes of Sunset Park residents since the late 1990s, and locals couldn’t wait for the parks department’s official opening ceremony on Nov. 12 to hail the new green space — they staged their own ribbon cutting on Nov. 6. Longtime neighbors said the opening was cathartic.
“I live in the Bay Ridge Towers, and I could see the tops of the trees in the park, but not being able to reach the waterfront was kind of frustrating,” said Christine Clark, who cut the ribbon on the new park as a member of the community group Sunset Park Restoration.
The 24-acre green space features two artificial-turf playing fields, a wooded area, a waterfront esplanade, two tidal ponds, and access to a pier.
Clark said the wooded area was her favorite because it takes her out of the city bustle.
“I was like, ‘Wow, this is what Brooklyn looks like before we built all over it,’ ” she said.
The road from former industrial site to lush park was a long one.
The park sits on the site of the former Bush Terminal integrated port complex, which served as a major shipping hub until 1974. At that time, unauthorized dumping at the site contaminated soil and groundwater, according to information from the Army Corps of Engineers. Much of the land went fallow and stayed that way for decades.
In 1997, the state funded a $700,000 study by the city’s Economic Development Corporation to determine if the land could be cleaned, and the study wrapped up in 2002. It took another two years the for the state Department of Environmental Conservation to issue a remediation plan, and two years later in 2006, the city, state, and federal governments issued $36 million in grants to clean up and redevelop the site, according to city records.
The cleanup itself took six years, and in 2012, the city broke ground on the park, according to the Economic Development Corporation.
Now the waterfront green space is open and locals have their eyes set on the horizon.
“The Statue of Liberty is so close it looks like you could reach out and touch it,” Clark said.
Bush Terminal Park (Marginal Street between 44th and 50th streets in Sunset Park). Open 8 am–4 pm.