In-tents: Activists, pols camp out to demand land sale for Bushwick Inlet Park

Blanket of night: Raquel and Helder Rendon watch the sleep-in entertainment with daughter Sayen.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Possession is nine-tenths of the law, but these activists are hoping to score land with around nine tents and some lawn.

Local green-space lovers and a couple of pols camped out next to Bushwick Inlet Park in Williamsburg on Saturday, staging an overnight protest to demand the owner of a neighboring warehouse accept Mayor DeBlasio’s recent $100-million offer to buy the property turn it into more parkland.

Around 20 locals braved summer showers to join Borough President Adams and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D–Greenpoint) at the so-called “sleep in” next to the for-sale CitiStorage complex — and organizers believe it showed they will do just about anything to get the land in city hands so it can make good on a long-standing promise to finish building out the park.

“Staying out late and staying in the rain, it really highlighted the importance of the issue and how strongly people in the community feel — they want this park completed,” said Steve Chesler of activist group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park.

Some 50 residents gathered at the site in the early evening to enjoy live music, a dance performance, and some educational talks, before the most dedicated attendees pitched their tents on the asphalt and settled in for the night, Chesler said.

The accommodations proved “comfortable enough,” he reported.

Both Adams and Maloney stayed all night — the Beep had to leave at the crack of dawn, but the Congresswoman hung around for coffee and doughnuts, Chesler said.

The city has been promising to buy the 11-acre site and use it to extend Bushwick Inlet Park out to 28 acres since 2005 — when it upzoned much of the area for luxury housing high-rises — but had until recently claimed it couldn’t afford the sticker price.

DeBlasio finally made an offer to land-owner Norm Brodsky last month, and Saturday marked the halfway point to a 60-day deadline he has to accept it — a period the pols and activists have been tracking on a big countdown sign outside the park.

But it isn’t looking promising — Brodsky already rejected the offer on day one, claiming he can get far more for the land.

The real-estate tycoon is giving other potential buyers until July 10 to make a bid on the land, which he is pitching via this “Koyaanisqatsi”-esque advertisement.

But Chesler says his group is holding out hope that Brodsky — a long-time neighborhood resident who last year described himself as “very charitable” — will accept the mayor’s $100-million offer for the good of the community.

“We’re appealing to Norm Brodsky, who has been a member of the community for many years, to listen to his fellow neighbors to do the right thing,” he said.

Reach deputy editor Ruth Brown at rbrown@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8309. Follow her at twitter.com/rbbrown.
Double act: Campers Borough President Adams and Rep. Carolyn Maloney address the gathering.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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