Park advocates: City has a ‘lot’ of explaining to do

This MTA bus lot on Commercial Street is slated to become a city park — and two local pols are battling the bureaucracy (and battling each other) to get it done.
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

It’s the parking lot with the best view in the city, but now open-space starved North Brooklynites are demanding that the city make good on its promise to turn the lot into a parkland paradise.

Greenpointers and Williamsburgers are demanding that the city construct several parks that were promised to the neighborhoods during a contentious rezoning in 2005 — and none of the yet-to-be-constructed greenspaces has drawn more attention than the Metropolitan Transit Authority parking lot at 65 Commercial St.

“This is bureaucracy at its worst,” said Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights), who last month urged the mayor to make good on his guarantee to build the public park.

“One agency says its another agency’s job, then the other agency points back and says it’s someone else’s job, but ultimately, the Bloomberg administration has to take responsibility for making this happen,” Yassky said. “At this point, we can say that the promise has been broken.”

The Bloomberg administration has presented the MTA with eight alternate sites for the parking lot, including locations at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge and beneath the elevated F train on 10th Street in Gowanus — but the agency has nixed all of options.

Nonetheless, the city claims it remains dedicated to building Commercial Street Park, which is between Box and Clay streets, according to Andrew Brent, a mayoral spokesman.

“Moving the MTA facilities off the site has proven more difficult and taken longer than we expected, but we are as committed to getting it done,” Brent said.

The MTA attributes the hold-up to the city’s suggested alternate locations, which the agency claims would not prove functional.

“We haven’t been able to agree on a suitable location that meets our needs,” said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

No matter who’s to blame for the overdue parkland, North Brooklynites are sick of waiting — and they’re not keeping quiet about it anymore.

On May 16, the Parks Department’s promotional “It’s My Park” day, North Brooklynites will take part in a satirical tour of their neighborhoods’ unbuilt parkland in an event called “Where’s My Park” day?

The snarky celebration will feature walking and biking tours of promised open spaces including 65 Commercial St., said organizer Rachelle House.

“We’re going to show off what we’re missing,” said House.

The Parks Department says it will break ground this month on the first phase of the nearby 28-acre Bushwick Inlet Park, which includes a soccer field at Kent Avenue and North Ninth Street — after four years of delays.

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