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More delays at Bridge ‘park’ - Brooklyn Paper

More delays at Bridge ‘park’

If it wasn’t for the Department of Transportation, this gorgeous skating rink would be built in time for next winter, say Brooklyn Bridge Park supporters, who are starting a campaign to get the city to give up the land.

The builders of the Brooklyn Bridge Park development are already two months behind on a new construction schedule that is only three months old!

Though work was supposed to start this month, three pieces of the waterfront project that are supposed to open next October remain quiet: Pier 1, just south of the Brooklyn Bridge, which was to begin last month; and Brooklyn Bridge Plaza, at the end of Old Fulton Street, and Pier 6, near the foot of Atlantic Avenue, both of which were supposed to start this month.

“We WILL start Pier 1 this month,” Warner Johnston, a spokesman for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, vowed, though as The Brooklyn Paper went to press, there was only one business day remaining in November.

Even more alarming, Johnston confirmed that work on Pier 6 is now set for January — making it at least two months behind the much-touted schedule that was unveiled in July.

He said there was “no real delay” because the October and November starting points were simply “projections.”

Johnston did not say when work would start on Brooklyn Bridge Plaza, the highest profile portion of the embattled development. As The Brooklyn Paper reported, that part of the project is embroiled in an intergovernmental battle between the state development agency and the city Department of Transportation.

The city agency has resisted calls that it give control of land beneath the Gothic span for a grand public plaza, with its greenmarket and skating rink. Instead, the city has clung to the property, saying it needs the space for five years of repair work to the bridge.

That insistence raises serious doubts about the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation’s ongoing promise to open the plaza schedule next fall.

The latest snag follows more than 20 years of false starts and setbacks for Brooklyn Bridge Park. Before demolition work began in earnest this year, there were three groundbreakings to signal the birth of the open space portion of the condo and park development.

“They have delayed and stalled for years,” said Judi Francis, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, which is critical of the state’s management of the development. “We just want a park.”

Then-Gov. Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg allocated $150 million to build the entire 1.3-mile long park in 2002, saying it would be built by 2012. Now the park’s budget exceeds $300 million — officials will not share updated figures — and only two-thirds of the development is scheduled to be built.

The frequently revised timelines have created confusion among officials and residents who cannot keep up with the ever-changing schedule. The Web site Brownstoner.com falsely reported on Tuesday that construction began in October. That story apparently stemmed from a newsletter put out by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, which runs public events in existing greenspaces that are slated to become part of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Even though the Brownstoner report suggested that the open space and condo project was moving forward, many commenters expressed exasperation anyway.

“Plant some grass, stick in some benches and let’s go,” wrote Kevin Walsh, an amateur historian and founder of Forgotten NY. “For the love of God, they built the Empire State Building in one year.”

This map of Brooklyn Bridge Park, issued in July, is already outdated. The construction of permanent sections of the open space and condo development is delayed again.

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