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Greenpointers: Park’s an aberration

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The city ignored much of what Greenpointers wanted to see in a planned park on a bank of Newtown Creek, residents said after parks department reps unveiled a new design last week.

The plan for Newtown Barge Park includes a kids’ baseball field, a grove of trees, and bench-lined pathways leading to a creek overlook. Neighbors were dismayed that the proposal doesn’t include a dog run, a basketball court, or adult sports fields, and that it is also missing several aesthetic elements called for in a decade-old waterfront plan.

In a startling reversal of the common complaint that there is not enough for the youth to do, one neighborhood activist told park planners at the Jan. 8 presentation that the design is too kid-friendly.

“You are reshaping the whole thing and everything is for kids,” Michael Hoffman said. “Where are the adults supposed to go?”

The existing park is an acre of concrete used for handball and other sports. The city’s plan calls for 2.2 acres of greenery, artificial turf, and plastic fences and benches, materials that another local griped wouldn’t be environmentally friendly.

“We should call this ‘Hydrocarbon Park’ or ‘Off-Gassing Park,’ because everything in the park will be plastic,” Darren Lipman said. “Can we not do better than this?”

Much of the design that the parks department presented goes against guidelines listed in the Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront Access Plan that locals spent months weighing in on in 2004 and 2005. That plan calls for wooden benches and paving stones throughout the public portions of the two neighborho­ods’ waterfront, but the new design includes the plastic benches and asphalt pathways instead. Some Greenpointers want the parks department to abide by the earlier prescription.

“These elements are supposed to have consistency from the top to the bottom of the waterfront, and that is not what we are getting,” said Greenpoint resident Katie Naplatarski. “They should be honoring that agreement, and if they need to change something, they need to come back to the community.”

A parks department spokeswoman said that the agreement is not binding for public land, but that the agency tries to stick to it as much as it can.

“Although zoning requirements generally do not apply to parkland, the parks department seeks to design parks to be substantially consistent with neighboring open spaces to the extent feasible,” Maeri Ferguson said.

Park designers said they had a lot more than community concerns to factor in when mapping out the greensward.

“We wanted to keep the park as open as possible,” said engineer Gary Sorge of the firm Stantec, which designed the park for the city. “It was a challenge creating protections against storm surges while allowing access.”

But many of the decisions came down to matters of money, according to a parks department rep.

“A lot of it was a question of budget,” said Martin Maher.

Over the course of the meeting, Maher and parks administrator Ed Janoff repeated that many elements that did not make it into the Newtown Barge Park design would make it into the design of the nearby Box Street Park, which is also in the works, but less far along in the planning process. But residents said they worried they would wait and find their ideal elements missing yet again.

In response to the heated debate, the Community Board 1 parks committee moved to hold off on a planned Tuesday presentation of the park plan. Instead, the committee will wait for neighbors to convene a task force to try to strike a compromise with the parks department.

Some locals said they are definitely going to keep after the city until they are heard.

“I think the parks department expected to come in and have this be a slam dunk, but we need to have discussions about this,” Naplatarski said. “I want them to know that we care and we want to be involved and we expect to be involved.”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Wording in Darren Lipman quote corrected.
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Reasonable discourse

John from Greenpoint says:
If the Parks Dept is saying they need to use artificial turf because the park will be in a flood zone, are they also proposing artificial trees? This one really doesn't make any sense at all!
Jan. 12, 2015, 12:53 pm
Darren from Greenpoint says:
CORRECTION: I said they should call it hydro carbon or "off Gasing" Park because of all the petroleum products. Plastic benches, plastic field, vinyl coated fence, asphalt paths next to a creek that contains the largest oil spill in the continental US.
Jan. 12, 2015, 2:07 pm
Vinny Polack from Greenpoint says:
They are whining because there already is a playground and basketball courts there right now. They should do the park like Transmitter Park (at the end of Greenpoint Ave), which is really nice in the summer instead of more artificial soccer fields for the Latinos and Polish.
Jan. 12, 2015, 4:36 pm
Laura Hofmann from Greenpoint says:
My worry is that artificial turf is being considered for this park and for Box Park as well. If that's the case, overall the community would be losing, not gaining green space. Open space is not green space. Open space is not an environmental benefit. Neither are plastic benches.
Jan. 12, 2015, 10:33 pm
Steve from Greenpoint says:
The lack of a dog run is appalling. Who are these designers and why do they think they know better than us what we need? I seriously hope they scrap this and come back with something the community can get behind.
Jan. 12, 2015, 11:14 pm
Jim from Greenpoint says:
Representatives of Levin and Lentol promised us there would be a dog run in the next park during community meetings about people complaining about dogs on the grass at Transmitter Park. This park needs a dog run, or they lied to us. Please use your influence to make sure that a dog run is included in this park, not the next park, or some other park, but this park, like promised!
Jan. 13, 2015, 3:35 pm
Bill from Greenpoint says:
Looking at those drawings, there is a dog on the lawn. Doesn't Parks know that it keeps dogs off the grass at Transmitter Park? Here is a simple solution - turn that grassy area into a dog run - fence it in and you are done. You can even plant trees in it still, and should! Geez, was that so hard?
Jan. 13, 2015, 3:39 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Once again proof that you could donate a park with 4 trees that cured cancer to NYC and somebody would object.
Jan. 14, 2015, 10:02 am
Barney from GPT says:
Rufus, if you lived here you would complain too. Stop trolling.
Jan. 14, 2015, 12:51 pm
ty from pps says:
i hope there are going to be bike racks!
Jan. 14, 2015, 6:48 pm

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