An environmental study that needs to be completed before construction
of the $150 million Brooklyn Bridge Park can begin has been stopped since
at least February, a park official told The Brooklyn Papers this week.
Wendy Leventer, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation,
a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corporation that was created
to build the park, said the process of completing an Environmental Impact
Statement (EIS) been halted when she was appointed president in March.
The study will not resume until after Labor Day, she said, and will then
take another year to complete.
Park planners originally hoped to see shovels in the ground this past
spring for the start of construction on the 1.3-mile commercial and recreational
development they hope will stretch along the waterfront from Jay Street
south to Atlantic Avenue.
A Manhattan-based consulting firm was hired last year to complete the
complex study, analyzing everything from traffic to shadows to air quality,
but only completed the “existing conditions sections” before
“Finishing the EIS is like the keys to the kingdom for getting the
[project] done,” Leventer said this week. “So restarting that
process is a major step towards realizing the park.”
The study was stopped because city and state funds had not come through,
she said. When Leventer took the reins of the park development corporation,
quietly replacing the former president, James Moogan, talk began to get
serious about adding Pier 6 to the park. That pier has long been coveted
by park planners because it provides a major thoroughfare as a gateway
to the development — Atlantic Avenue.
Rather than completing a supplemental study for that portion of the park,
which could have potentially stalled the development even longer, Leventer
said she decided to wait and examine the project as a whole.
Community leaders this week said they were surprised to hear that a key
component of the park plan had been stalled for this long.
“It’s disconcerting,” said Evan Thies, a spokesman for
Councilman David Yassky. “We were told that the park would be built
on a certain timetable and those expectations have not been met.”
The study will most likely not be completed until fall of next year.
Annual operation and maintenance costs of $15 million will be funded by
revenue generated from commercial properties associated with the park
including a hotel, restaurants and other pay-for-use recreational facilities,
according to the park plan.
Among those are the Empire Stores, a row of brick, Civil War-era warehouses
along Water Street in DUMBO, which real estate developer Shaya Boymelgreen
plans to turn into a Chelsea Market-like complex of shops, galleries and
offices as part of the development.
But Boymelgreen, who submitted the winning proposal to develop the site
almost two years ago, cannot move ahead on the 300,000-square-foot project
until the EIS is complete.
A spokesman for Boymelgreen could not be reached by press time.
Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association,
wasn’t disturbed by the delay.
“The most important thing is that a good job gets done and that it
gets done in a most transparent way,” she said. “What I would
not accept is actions done in secret and unnecessary delays that are politically
motivated as opposed to operationally necessary.”
Samara Rifkin, a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy,
a pro-park alliance said she was pleased to see Pier 6 being incorporated.
“However,” she added, “we are very eager to see that the
EIS process moves forward as quickly as possible.”