Bringing home the bacon to Brooklyn - Fresh Funding for Empire Fulton Ferry State Park, other local organizations

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While all the pork barrel dust hasn’t settled from the state’s recently passed $121.7 billion 2008-09 budget, several large entities on the northern end of Brooklyn did appear to get large allocations.

Topping the list of allocations in the area is $1.5 million going to the Empire Fulton Ferry State Park, which is part of the planned 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP).

The money will be utilized to stabilize the Empire Stores. The site currently has scaffolding around it and is crumbling, said Rachel Gordon, the New York City director for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP).

Gordon said the money will also pay for temporary offices and bathrooms while the stabilization of the buildings is ongoing.

According to the BBP General Project Plan, ultimately a request for proposals (RFP) to privately develop the Empire Stores will go out, with money raised to go toward making BBP self-sustaining.

The Empire Stores is currently under the OPRHP and an RFP will be allowed to go out while the site is being stabilized, said Gordon.

Gordon said it is still under discussion as to how the administration of the Empire Stores site will work between OPRHP and the BBP Development Corporation, which is charged with development of the overall park.

Also relating to BBP, the non-profit Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, which serves as an advocating and programming arm of the park received a $35,000 allocation through the state budget.

Thirty-thousand dollars came through Assemblymember Joan Millman’s office and $5,000 came through Senator Marty Golden’s office, said BBP Conservancy Marianna Koval.

“We are getting $35,000 in expense money which will help support our efforts to bring free public programming to the park,” said Koval.

This programming includes a film series as well as other special events and educational programs in the park, she said.

Brooklyn Heights State Senator Martin Connor secured $100,000 out of the 2008/2009 state budget for the Brooklyn Historical Society, which will use the money for building improvements and the creation of new state-of-the-art storage for their varied collections.

Deborah Schwartz, the president of the Brooklyn Historical Society, said that the new storage area will “keep our collection safe and maintained for generations to come.”

“It will ultimately make the collection more available to the public,” she said. “We usually have to have some of our collections off site, so its difficult at times for people to see everything we have to offer.”

“It’s going to be quite spectacular,” Schwartz said. “We’re glad that Senator Connor has understood how important the Brooklyn Historical Society has been for the entire borough.”

Political insiders said that the $100,000 in improvements could be seen, in a way, to be a parting gift from former Governor Eliot Spitzer.

“Democrats in the State Senate were never able to get a lot of capital project money for their districts,” one political watchdog noted. “Last year, Spitzer said he was going to make sure that Senate Democrats were going to get money for a few key projects. Even though he’s gone, Governor Paterson made good on that promise.”

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP received a $50,000 allocation regarding the organization’s marketing initiative to promote downtown Brooklyn as a place to live, work and play.

Michael Burke, the DBP executive director of policy & strategic planning, said the money specifically will go toward marketing downtown Brooklyn as a college campus.

Burke noted there are seven higher education facilities in the downtown Brooklyn area with 30,000 students.

The Partnership wants to promote campus and school life as a center for downtown Brooklyn activity to attract more students and promote it as a thriving academic center, Burke said.

The DBP currently operates through a $6 million, three-year contract with the city. They also get membership dues from stakeholders in the area, including developers and institutions of higher learning.

Additionally, $30,000 went to the East River State Park, which stretches from North 7th to North 9th Streets on the Williamsburg waterfront and became the first public space in Williamsburg to enable access to the water’s edge when it opened last Memorial Day.

Cathleen Breen, President of the Park’s Friends Group, said she hopes the money is used for lighting so the park can stay open longer.

“We want to have lighting in place

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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