A bridge too wha? Squibb span still closed after 17 months with no explanation

A bridge too wha? Squibb span still closed after 17 months with no explanation
Photo by Louise Wateridge

What the Squibb?

Squibb Park Bridge — the bouncy pathway that connects Brooklyn Bridge Park to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade — has been closed for repairs for 17 months, and park honchos are refusing to explain what is wrong with it, why it is taking so long, and when it will be open again. One local pol is now starting to worry the silence means something is seriously amiss with the springy span.

“What makes me nervous is what does this long delay indicate? Does it indicate that there’s a more serious problem here?” said Councilman Steve Levin (D–Brooklyn Heights), who also sits on the Brooklyn Bridge Park board of directors.

The semi-private body that operates the park opened the taxpayer-funded, $5-million bridge to much fanfare in late 2012, but fenced it off in August 2014, claiming that it had become a little too bouncy and needed to be re-aligned.

Park officials initially said it would be back in action in spring 2015, then repeatedly pushed back the opening date, telling the New York Times in both July and August that repairs were complete and it was just awaiting permits to reopen.

Now, they say more repairs are needed — but not what, or why, or when they will be complete.

“After conducting thorough testing, our engineers have determined that further work is necessary,” said Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation spokeswoman Belinda Cape, who is a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation.

The zig-zagging wooden pathway runs through two buildings in the still-under-construction Pierhouse hotel and condo complex — one of several controversial money-spinning developments the park says is needed to fund the ongoing maintenance of the sprawling waterfront green space.

Park officials have in the past said there is no link between the construction site and the fenced-off bridge that runs through the center of it, but the juxtaposition has at least one frustrated park-goer wondering if there is a connection.

“I don’t know why they closed it — maybe because of construction,” said Brooklyn Heights resident Mary Hudson. “Why did they open it if they were going to close it so quickly?”

Locals are also questioning how much it will ultimately cost and who will pick up the tab. In February last year, the park estimated the repairs would run to $700,000 and that it planned to recoup the costs from those responsible. Now, it won’t say what the bill is.

Cape says the corporation still plans to recover the costs — though not from whom — and that it will issue a report explaining everything once it reopens the bridge. But the lack of transparency has neighbors worried.

“Since they haven’t told the public what the cost is and who would ultimately be responsible for the costs of the repairs we’re in no condition to know what’s happening,” said Peter Bray, president of influential local civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association.

But the issue is much simpler for some — Hudson said the closure has forced her to take the long way around to Brooklyn Bridge Park, which she frequents with her grandson, and the extended route is taking a toll on her aging body.

“I have to go around to the park now and I’m not young anymore,” she said. “I’d rather just go down on the bridge.”

Levin — who sent a letter to the park with Assemblywoman Jo Ann Simon (D–Carroll Gardens) and state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights) demanding answers back in August — said the corporation told board members they can expect to find out more information at the next board meeting.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511.
No entry: Squibb Park Bridge has been closed for nearly 17 months.
Photo by Louise Wateridge