A north Brooklyn legislator wants to use funds from the newly-enacted state budget to save a Metropolitan Transportation Authority storage facility at the Bushwick Inlet from becoming a high-rise development and instead turn it into open space.
Assemblyman Joe Lentol hopes to purchase the site at 40 Quay St. near Kent Avenue as part of the budget’s so-called Restore Mother Nature Environmental Bond Act, which would make $200 million available from the sale of state bonds to conserve open space — something that’s become even more important in the age of the coronavirus, the Greenpoint pol noted.
“The coronavirus crisis is teaching us how important open space is to our community and our health. I fought for inclusion of funds in the Environmental Bond Act so that with its passage, we have resources to help us obtain this important plot of land,” Lentol said in a statement.
The roughly 1.7 acre-site could become part of a sprawling waterfront lawn with the adjacent city-owned Bushwick Inlet Park, and would offer more open space amid the surge of development along the north Brooklyn waterfront, according to a steward of that green space and longtime environmental advocate.
“It would be that beautiful green expanse at the inlet,” said the co-chair of Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, Steve Chesler.
The land is already owned by the state but the MTA issued a request for private development proposals last May to generate revenue. Nearly a year later, the transit agency is struggling to overcome a budget deficit that has only become worse as ridership plummets due to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, advocates like Chesler have fought against any plans by the agency to lease the land to a developer to erect yet another high-rise along the north Brooklyn waterfront.
“With all these developments going on, we need as much open space as we can get,” the Greenpoint resident said.
In order to fulfill the needs of the Authority and make the land available for public open space, Lentol wants to use part of the $200 million in bonds to buy it from the agency.
But before the state can divert the funds, voters will have to approve the bond act at the November ballot, according to Lentol spokeswoman Emily Mijatovic. Then, the legislator will have to seek support from the agency and the go-ahead from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who will have to sign off on where the funds go, according to Mijatovic.
“With the passage of the Bond Act, Assembly Member Lentol, with the community and other elected officials, will be making a request for the purchase of the property,” she said in an email. “We believe the MTA will be supportive of this request.”