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

The Brooklyn Paper
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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.

Updated 5:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Bill from Cobble Hill says:
Wasn't the "waterfront development" envisioned by the port authority in the 1970s to have every square foot of the waterfront built up with housing? Thank goodness we aren't going to end up with that.

(I imagine that this comment might be misconstrued as being sarcastic - it's not. Conspiracy theories aside, the condos are clearly a means to an end, not the driving force. It takes an extremely biased reading of the plan to keep referring to it as Brooklyn Bridge "Park" rather than Brooklyn Bridge Park ).
Dec. 8, 2009, 4:09 pm
bklyn20 from brooklynheights says:
Actually, Comissioner Benepe DID say that as of now, housing is the funding mechanism of choice for this, yes, "park." He also said something along the lines of "we will also consider other funding possibilities." He also answered few or no questions, even if one doesn't include the rhetorical questions. AND one questioner actually called him out on Blackberrying while she was still asking her (sincere) question. It is also significant that longtime Assemblywoman Joan Millman said she did not want more housing in the "park."

More than 75% -- more like 90% -- of the audience was anti-housing in the park. Why didn't your piece mention this?

And to use your analogy, previous commenter, if it is a stretch to call Brooklyn Bridge Park a "park, then Central Park, Fort Greene Park and Prospect Park should be called parkparkparkparkparkparkparkparkparks.

Dec. 8, 2009, 5:08 pm
Teddy Roosevelt from Brooklyn says:
How about we make it a National Park, and be done with the scoundrels in City Hall and Albany who would build luxury condominiums in a "park."
Dec. 8, 2009, 11:24 pm
Bill from Cobble Hill says:
Are you the real Teddy Roosevelt, or are you just joking? Of course, many of the National Parks have luxury accommodations within them, so maybe this isn't the model you want.

There are some big brush strokes (and black and white) being used when people describe this issue that I don't think are helping to make things very clear. Am I confused in thinking that the condos are not actually in the park proper, but rather in their own areas that are next to the BQE but also kind of related to the major roadways leading to the park? Aren't there whole big areas of the park that are not anywhere near to the condos? Nobody's talking about building condos out on the piers, are they?
Dec. 9, 2009, 3:25 pm
Gail from brooklyn heights says:
If he can't poney up, what about the horse in the stable?
Sen. Daniel Squadron tried to assure the crowd that more capital money would become available as portions of the park got built - but people don't know which park he was talking about. Time to get back in the saddle and out of the water trough.
Dec. 11, 2009, 7:46 am
Anon from Heights says:
Bill, you are wrong on many facts. These are not "brush strokes". Perhaps you yourself are not informed but do not accuse the park advocates who have worked closely on this issue for years, of not knowing the facts. First, 1250 units of private housing plus up to 225 hotel rooms are planned in 6 buildings (see the General Project Plan on the ESDC website for these facts). Joshua Laird gave false information at the meeting - another sign that these bureaucrats are either mow-mowing the public or they are just dumb. There are 6 buildings (1 build and 5 others planned) and all of them have at least one side of their building right up against green lawns of a "park". This is the first time ever something like this has been allowed in a park in NYC or any new park in the State (some believe the nation but there is no federal register for that). And the Brookyn Paper puts the quotation marks around "park" because it is not designated park land. The courts have declared it a "development project". That is not a small issue. Public park lands are protected from commercial development by law. Finally, when housing went into the plan ALL year round recreation came out, including seasonal recreation like baseball fields. That is the sham of this "park". It is a landscaped garden for condos. When you know the facts you will no doubt understand the years of clammor.
Dec. 11, 2009, 11:21 am
Bill from Cobble Hill says:

Which facts am I wrong on? I just re-read my posts and it feels less like I am putting up bad information, and more trying to understand what the stink is about. I'm not so much interested in accusing people but more interested in getting to the bottom of "facts" that I see over and over again on the blogs that are in conflict with the publicly available information.

For starters, I think that the idea that this is "a landscaped garden for condos" isn't at all supported when you look at the plan, which shows a great big park that will be affected by the commercial/residential buildings but certainly isn't dominated by them. I also see year-round recreation and seasonal sports, both in the first phase, and in the areas of Piers 2 and 3 - which is described in the story.

Secondly, I looked at the plan on the Brooklyn Bridge Park website, and I see that the buildings near Atlantic Avenue have a great big road going around them, separating them from the park, which is different from what you describe above. If what you are saying is true, then it must be that these roads were an earlier idea and now there is lawn there?

I guess its not as obvious to me as it is to you that having buildings next to a park is worse than building a roadway just for the purpose of separation. Since, as you say, it has never happened before that you know of, how do you know that it is going to be awful? If you give me the choice between impermeable hot asphalt roadways, visible cars driving by, and lawn, soil, etc., I would take the lawn, even if it represents a compromise on another level.

Thanks for explaining why the Brooklyn Paper always puts the word park in quotation marks, I have been confused about that for a long time - it seems like editorializing. If the courts think of this as a "development project" does that mean that the open spaces are just placeholders? Because I have never seen another for-profit development project that looked so much like a park to me.
Dec. 15, 2009, 1:59 pm

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