It’s the greatest thing to happen to Brooklyn open space lovers since Prospect Park was built in the Civil War era — but it’s not so great for their dogs!
City and state officials opened part of Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park on Monday after decades of planning and delays, making available a portion of what may one day be a self-sustaining, multi-use Nirvana along 1.7 miles of DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights waterfront.
Before that happens, Brooklynites can at least enjoy Pier 1, with its sweeping views of Manhattan, walkways, waterfront benches, granite front “stoop” and Great Lawn.
“Like Rome, the park wasn’t built in a day — but good things come to those who wait!” said a grinning Borough President Markowitz. “People all across Manhattan will have their binoculars out, jealously eyeing our paradise across the water.”
It’s a paradise that is not wholly usable until mid-April, when the new lawn — which accounts for almost half of the six-acre pier — is strong enough to open to the public. Picnics and Frisbee will be allowed on the stately grass next month, but dogs will not.
And therein lies a conflict. Under city zoning, any land designed as “parkland” — like Brooklyn Bridge Park — must allow dogs on a leash at all times. Some parks, such as Prospect Park, allow dogs to be entirely unleashed before 9 am and after 9 pm.
But this new city-state quasi park has special rules to bar canines from the sitting area.
“There will be no dogs, no chairs and no big soccer games on the lawn,” said Jeff Sandgrund, director of operations for the park. “It’s a passive lawn — people can use it within reason.”
Dogs certainly roamed the concrete walkways surrounding the lawn on Monday, but the dog-gone announcement left some owners barking.
“Leashed dogs only allowed on the concrete? How about giving us 10 feet of grass along the border where we can picnic with our dogs, or watch the boats sail by?” said Bob Ipcar, president of FIDO, a Prospect Park-based dog advocacy group. “That would be the ‘beast’ of all worlds!”
Dog issues aside, there are other pressing matters. For now, city and state officials are more concerned about conjuring a city entity to officially operate the space and build future open space in the development, a takeover deal that was made earlier this month.
Mayor Bloomberg allocated $55 million in city money, on top of the city’s $139-million share of the $350-million cost to build along all six of the waterfront piers. But the cost of maintenance — $16-million per year — is another problem that’s still being hashed out.
For now, park officials said that they can maintain the existing green space — plus the portion of Pier 6 that will open later this spring — from fees on the One Brooklyn Bridge Park residential building at the Atlantic Avenue end of Furman Street.