Bridging the gap: Bridge Park bigwigs want another walkway to waterfront, can’t promise new pool won’t close Squibb span

Bridging the gap: Bridge Park bigwigs want another walkway to waterfront, can’t promise new pool won’t close Squibb span
File photo by Jordan Rathkopf

Brooklyn Bridge Park stewards are backing locals’ demands for a new footbridge from Brooklyn Heights to the green space, and they can’t promise that construction of the public pool coming to Squibb Park won’t force them to close its eponymous zig-zagging walkway to Brooklyn’s front yard.

“We wholeheartedly support more access points to the park,” said Eric Landau, who runs the private Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, which maintains the waterfront meadow. “We recognize the significant importance of Squibb Bridge to and from the park — it’s too early to tell what the [pool’s] exact impact would be, but a goal is to do everything we can to mitigate effects on that.”

The once famously bouncy bridge with a foot in Squibb Park reopened to the public last year after Brooklyn Bridge Park leaders shelled out $3.12 million to make it more stable, following complaints that the original walkway — which cost roughly $4 million and debuted in March 2013 before closing for repairs in August 2014 — had too much spring in its step.

Park-goers can also stroll to the East River–facing lawn via paths along Joralemon and Old Fulton streets, but the Squibb Bridge is the only overpass from the Heights to the park, Landau noted.

And access to the Columbia Heights–end of the bridge will likely be affected by work on a new permanent pool inside its namesake park that Brooklyn Bridge Park bigwigs will start to build when the meadow’s pop-up pool closes after its last season this summer.

But the potential temporary loss of the Squibb Bridge could be mitigated by the construction of a new footbridge to the park from the Montague Street–end of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which locals are demanding ahead of the looming repairs to the Brooklyn Queens–Expressway’s triple cantilever — which runs beneath the fabled overlook — to ensure easy access to the waterfront throughout the roadway’s reconstruction.

And Landau isn’t the only official supportive of another way down to Brooklyn Bridge Park — a handful of Brooklyn Heights pols recently penned a letter to the Department of Transportation, asking transit gurus to include a permanent, handicapped-accessible bridge in their plan for rehabilitating the expressway.

Officials said they hope to finish building the Squibb Park pool in 2020 — a year before the city expects to begin fixing the expressway — but acknowledged that completing the job in two years is a tall order, meaning that work on the swimming hole and the triple cantilever could likely overlap, further necessitating the creation of a new footbridge.

“Obviously that’s going to be a big challenge,” Brooklyn Heights state Sen. Brian Kavanagh, who signed the letter requesting the new bridge, said about finishing the pool by 2020 when it was announced earlier this month.

Landau — who is open to locations for a new footbridge that are a quick walk from nearby subways and buses — said it’s too soon to say how much cash his corporation could cough up to fund a walkway, but that he and fellow park stewards want to be involved in the process of bringing one to life.

We’re excited to be part of any sort of planning,” he said.

City transit gurus are reviewing the pols’ letter supporting the bridge bid, according to spokeswoman for the Transportation Department, which previously explored creating another way to the waterfront back when the slow-going repairs to Squibb Bridge showed no end in sight.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.