The Public Art Fund, which commissioned the New York City Waterfalls, put the wet attractions in the barrel last week and decided to cut back on their hours of operation.
The move to turn off the spigot on the four artistic man-made waterfalls for all but 49.5 hours a week came after nearby Brooklyn vegetation began turning brown due to the saltwater spray mist the waterfalls emitted.
“Based on an updated recommendation of the Parks Department, we are reducing the hours of operation of ‘The New York City Waterfalls’ beginning Monday, September 8 from 101 hours per week to 49.5 hours per week in a further effort to stem the impact on the trees,” said a Public Art Fund spokesperson in an e-mailed statement.
The new hours of operation will be Tuesdays and Thursdays through Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30-9.00 p.m. through the scheduled end of the exhibition on October 13.
The move was met with a degree of happiness from local residents including Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association.
“The winds off the East River sent waterfall generated river spray, depending on the direction of the wind, over the BQE and to the level of the Brooklyn Promenade,” said Stanton.
Stanton said the saltwater mist reached into the promenade gardens and as far as the private gardens on Pierrepont and Remsen Streets, where it turned tree and shrub foliage brown.
The complaints started in August that leaves were turning brown and the promenade looked like the fall during the summer, she said.
“Once the city was exposed to a lot of this criticism, the decision was made to hose down the promenade gardens to wash the salt off. They started that last week,” said Stanton.
The Public Art Fund responded that while an environmental assessment study was conducted prior to the project and measures were taken to ensure the safety of the surrounding landscapes, salt water mist off the river has affected several adjacent plantings.
“From the beginning of the project, an anemometer (wind meter) has been installed at each site which shuts each waterfall off in the case of sustained winds that may blow saltwater on to the surrounding areas,” said a Public Art Fund spokesperson.
“In addition, when the saltwater mist damage was discovered, Public Art Fund immediately addressed the matter and began treating affected plant life. Expert arborists from the City Parks Department recommended a maintenance plan that includes washing tree leaves and flushing salt from tree roots daily, which was promptly undertaken and is being continued,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson stated that while salt water can cause leaves to discolor or fall off prematurely, the Parks Department has informed them that with proper care, any potential adverse effects can be limited.
“The Public Art Fund and the Parks Department will continue to monitor the condition of the affected trees,” the spokesperson said.
Stanton said she is happy the hours of the waterfalls have been cut down, but remains wary that they still may cause more damage to the borough’s foliage.
“It [the new hours] will be better, provided that the wind is not blowing this way during the hours the falls are still operating. We will be in better shape than we were before,” she said.