The news this week that Marianna Koval had resigned from her position as head of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy should not be treated as merely inside baseball or the shuffling of yet another bureaucratic deck.
Her departure after 10 years is nothing short of an indictment of a process that has gone on too long with virtually nothing to show for it — and we wouldn’t blame Koval if she finally saw the truth.
In her 10 years, Koval has done a good job of scheduling movies and concerts in Emprie-Fulton Ferry State Park, as well as programming events and introduceing venues like the much-loved floating pool and last summer’s “pop-up” park along the Furman Street Piers.
But Koval was also one of the staunchest advocates for the Empire State Development Corporation’s decision to finance maintenance of the project’s open-space component by putting luxury condos, a hotel and a shopping center inside the footprint of the so-called park.
This decision — and Koval’s advocacy of it — is the reason that the project is virtually dead now.
From a budget of $150 million just a few years ago, the development is now slated to cost more than $350 million, with nowhere near that allocated so far. State officials say that lawns on Pier 1 (at the foot of Old Fulton Street) and Pier 6 (at the foot of Atlantic Avenue) will be completed by the end of the year. But then, they’ve made promises before — and not a single permanent piece of the project has been completed.
In addition, most of the park’s revenue-generating uses — the hotel, roughly 800 of the 1,200 units of housing, and the Empire Stores mall — are hopelessly delayed.
It’s no wonder Koval now says she wants to spend more time with her daughter. As parents ourselves, we can obviously empathize with that desire — but if the state really intended to complete large sections of the park by the end of 2009, would Marianna Koval really be walking away from a job she says she loves?
Of course not. But given the remaining unanswered questions about the project, we’d say she’s getting out while the getting is good.
After all, it would not surprise us if Koval was simply fed up with lies and misinformation being offered by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation. As the Cobble Hill Association pointed out this week, the park’s budget includes $61 million for utility infrastructure.
Sixty-one million dollars for utilities? That’s not a park, that’s a neighborhood.
The group also pointed out that 90 percent of the park’s budget for architecture and engineering planning has already been spent. If a park is really being built, won’t there be a lot more landscaping, design or engineering work to be done?
Maybe Marianna Koval is just seeing the writing on the wall.