City greenspace gurus recently started building the long-awaited park at 50 Kent Ave., with plans to open the almost 2-acre lawn in Williamsburg next spring, to the delight of local garden stewards.
“We’re very happy because the parks have never been more heavily used,” said Steve Chesler, a co-founder of Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park which helps maintain the adjacent meadows near the Greenpoint border.
For the $7-million project, Parks Department plans to transform the 1.89-acre parcel between N. 11th and N. 12th streets — once home to a manufactured gas plant — into a verdant park of sloping lawns, forest groves, and water play areas for kids, with a stellar view of the East River and the distant isle of Manhattan by April 2022.
“We are so excited to begin work on 50 Kent! It reflects and advances the City’s mission to build a more equitable 21st Century parks system,” said Parks spokesperson Anessa Hodgson in an email. “Upon its completion it will be one of more than 800 capital projects completed under Commissioner [Mitchell] Silver’s tenure as he has prioritized working to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to quality parks.”
The proposal is divided into three parts: an entrance plaza with cafe tables and chairs, an elevated sloping lawn, and a family gathering space with a water play fountain. City green thumbs will also plant several trees and bushes and install seating throughout the park.
Parks started working on 50 Kent back in 2018, but progress was stalled last year as the city slashed municipal budgets due to COVID-19.
National Grid previously cleaned up decades of contamination beneath the site and from 2018 onward, Parks officials opened it during the summer months as a so-called pop-up park, including during the pandemic following calls from pent-up locals for more open space.
50 Kent marks the next puzzle piece of a larger park the city promised around the Bushwick Inlet for more than a decade as part of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2009 Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront Open Space Master Plan to transform the former industrial north Brooklyn waterfront into sprawling parkland as a sweetener for the 2005 north Brooklyn rezoning.
The plan calls for a continuous open waterfront stretching from N. Third Street to the northern tip of Manhattan Avenue at the Newtown Creek and includes new parks and waterfront esplanades built by high-rise developers along the shore.
Parks is currently also working on the nearby section dubbed the Motiva Parcel which will yield a boomerang-shaped park wrapping around the inlet, and which officials presented to local Community Board 1 last summer, but have yet to publish a definitive timeline for.