No reservations: Mayor omits promised Williamsburg park from environmental agenda

No reservations: Mayor omits promised Williamsburg park from environmental agenda
Associated Press / Seth Wenig

Mayor DeBlasio shafted Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents on green space for Earth Day, park activists say.

DeBlasio touted upcoming expansions to Bushwick Inlet Park in his so-called “One New York” environmental agenda — which he released on the April 22 holiday — but failed to mention anything about the plot of land on Kent Avenue that the city promised to buy and turn into a park a decade ago.

Residents say they are concerned that the omission means that the city is trying to prune back its pledge to buy the waterfront lot that currently houses a burned-out CitiStorage facility.

“It stands out for what it does not say, and it is troubling, because it glosses over the central issue that we are facing,” said Adam Perlmutter, a Williamsburg resident and attorney who is helping to organize activism to convince the city to buy the CitiStorage plot to expand the park. “The administration needs to acknowledge its responsibility.”

The mayor’s plan points out that the city has already purchased the former Motiva plot and is making payments on the Bayside Fuels lot, which it will take over in June. Those two plots will add the size of about 12 football fields to the park, which is currently a little more than the size of five football fields. That will put the total parkland at about 22 acres, but that is still far less than the full 28 acres — about 21 football fields — the city promised the residents as a part of its waterfront rezone.

“It is not enough,” said Laura Treciokas, a Greenpoint resident. “The jewel is the CitiStorage lot, and we need that.”

A fire gutted the CitiStorage warehouse on Kent Avenue in early February, sparking renewed calls for the city to buy the property and make good on its promise.

But increased property values, driven by the area’s zoning-enabled development boom, means buying the plot would be really expensive. At the time that the city made the commitment, the CitiStorage plot was worth about $30 million. A decade later, the value of the land is likely somewhere between $73 million and $100 million. But residents say that is too bad.

“We will be holding the city to its commitment of a 28-acre park, which this neighborhood desperately needs,” said Jens Rasmussen, a member of community group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park.

Activists held a rally in front of City Hall in March that drew a capacity crowd of more than 300 park-lovers in the middle of a workday, and they plan to host a march and party in the existing Bushwick Inlet Park on May 16.

The mayor did not yet return a request for comment.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Dude, where’s our park?: Hundreds of Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents rallied in March to protest the lack of parkland in their neighborhoods.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini