Mayor will pony up cash — if state hands over Brooklyn Bridge ‘Park’

Work on Pier 1 is almost done, but Pier 2 is stalled until the city or state coughs up the big bucks.
The Brooklyn Paper / Bess Adler

Brooklyn Bridge Park’s ill-fated Piers 2 and 3, which were essentially put on the back-burner when the park’s price tag topped $300 million last year, would be back in the picture if the city is given control of the long-delayed greenspace.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said on Monday night that the city would pump in $55 million to jumpstart the construction of basketball courts, an in-line skating area, and a seasonal “bubble” for indoor recreation on the two piers — but the money comes with a big string attached: the state must turn over the long-stalled development project to the city.

“This will be the best thing that’s happened to New York City in a century,” Benepe said at the meeting at Long Island College Hospital.

Not everyone in the crowd of more than 100 was so sure.

For one thing, the new money wouldn’t completely fill a $120-plus-million budget gap that sent piers 2 and 3 into limbo in the first place, though Benepe and state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn Heights) tried to assure the crowd that more capital money would become available as portions of the park got built.

Right now, Pier 1, at the foot of Old Fulton Street, and Pier 6 at Atlantic Avenue, are nearing completion — the first phase of construction in a waterfront development that was first envisioned in the 1970s.

Most telling, however, Benepe did not discuss whether a city takeover would alter the park’s controversial funding mechanism — which currently calls for housing and a hotel to be developed inside the park footprint. Fees from residents and guests would generate the 1.3-mile park’s $15-million annual maintenance fee.

With the housing market collapsed and such development currently off the table, Squadron has called for nearby landowners to foot the bill in the form of a tax reassessment based on their increased property values from being so close to a world-class park.

Earlier in the day, mayoral spokesman Andrew Brent presaged Benepe’s silence on the housing-in-the-park plan.

“Right now, housing is still part of the park plan,” Brent said. “Unless another funding stream can be established, that’s the plan.”

In addition to active recreation space at Pier 2 and 3, any remaining city cash would go toward constructing a sound-dampening berm that would deflect Brooklyn-Queens Expressway noise away from the park, plus adding in a pedestrian bridge from Squibb Park to the new waterfront greenspace.

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