Fenced-off yards attached to planned condos in Brooklyn Bridge Park are a greenspace-hogging affront on precious public land, frustrated park-boosters say.
A proposal for a controversial housing complex on Pier 1 calls for landscaped private terraces linked to ground-floor residential units — a design that betrays the very definition of “park,” according to recreation advocates.
“The principal is ridiculous,” said yards-in-the-park opponents Roy Sloane, who sits on the park’s advisory council. “They’re taking up land that should belong to future generations of park-goers.”
Sloane and other critics say the architectural misstep turns the park into a literal and figurative backyard for wealthy developers and their future tenants.
He also fears the privates yards will set the stage for yard-style activities — such as laundry-drying and tiki-torch-burning — near the park’s stunning promenade, potentially tainting the valuable public commodity.
The new design revives a long-simmering battle over the use of the waterfront space and ultimately how to fund the park’s $16-million annual maintenance budget — a dilemma that stems from a 2002 agreement requiring the park to raise its own cash so it won’t drain public coffers.
Lawmakers eventually decided to build a 159-unit housing complex and hotel in the park near Furman Street, just south of the park’s Old Fulton Street entrance, to bring in revenue.
New housing design details — including news about the private yards — comes after members of the park’s advisory panel recommended that architects build a clear visual separation between public grassy areas and private terraces.
“The criticism was that yards of lower units sort of melted into the park,” said Joan McGroarty of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Community Advisory Council.
A spokeswoman for Roger Marvel Architects, the firm that drafted the design, did not respond to requests for comment about the size of the private outdoor space and other details last week.
But a Brooklyn Bridge Park spokeswoman noted that the yards will not be visible from the park greenway and that residents must maintain them.
“The ground floor outdoor spaces are within the development footprint, are shielded from the public portion of the park by a berm, and we’ve worked closely with [designers] to ensure that they do not encroach on any of the public areas of the park,” said spokeswoman Teresa Gonzalez.
Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.