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Breaking news! Koval out at Bridge ‘Park’ Conservancy

The Brooklyn Paper
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Longtime Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy President Marianna Koval has resigned — officially to spend more time with her teenage daughter.

Koval has long pushed for the creation of the controversial, but long-stalled, $350-million park-and-condo development along the Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO Riviera.

“It’s a great project. I’m as impatient as the next person to see it fully built, but I’ve been delighted to see this process move forward and construction begin,” she told The Brooklyn Paper.

The Conservancy is officially responsible for event and activity programming, such as the popular outdoor summer movies series near the Brooklyn Bridge and last year’s cantina on a pier at the foot of Old Fulton Street.

It also ran the floating pool two summers ago, though that amenity was in the Bronx last summer.

Koval has also been one of chief advocates for the open space, and along with it, the contentious 1,210 luxury apartments and 225-bed hotel inside the “park” that will pay for the open space’s annual upkeep.

Koval, who is single, says she wants to lighten the pace to spend more time with her daughter.

“I’ve given my heart and soul to this park for the last 10 years,” the Conservancy skipper, who was number 25 on The Brooklyn Paper’s “90 to watch in ’09” list. “My daughter deserves a bigger piece of that heart and soul.”

But onlookers suspect there’s more to this story.

Construction of Brooklyn Bridge Park has been delayed for almost the entirety of Koval’s reign. Based on an original funding agreement between Mayor Bloomberg and then-Gov. Pataki, the 1.3-mile sliver was due to be built by the end of 2012 at a cost of $150 million.

Now the park is $200 million over budget and at most, only a portion will be done in the next three years while key pieces like a boating area, lawns and space for court sports await future funding.

All of the new apartment units, hotel and the Empire Stores mall — all of which comprise the main revenue source for the park’s annual operating costs — are also delayed.

Yet her departure comes during the supposed turning point in the park’s history.

The first major pieces of the park, on piers near the base of the Brooklyn Bridge and at the foot of Atlantic Avenues, are scheduled for completion this year.

Brooklyn Bridge Parkologists may interpret her resignation as a sign that these first phases may again be off-track and thus Koval’s event coordinator duties have also been pushed off to the horizon.

“Why would she leave now if the park is really going to be open this year?” wondered one longtime critic of the current park plan.

But Koval and her backers on the Conservancy’s board rejected the idea she threw in the towel in frustration.

“It’s not tied to the speed of this project,” said David Kramer, the chairman of the Park Conservancy.

“We’re moving forward.”

Updated 5:11 pm, July 9, 2018: Story was greatly expanded to add comments from Koval and other players.
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Reasonable discourse

Friend of Parks from Heights says:
Good riddance! Her sole accomplishment was fear mongering. Fear that people would invade the Heights on their way to the park (so no Promenade link), fear that marauders would rape and pillage park goers (so her advocacy of luxury condos to be "eyes on the park"), fear that recreation in the park (oh my, recreation in a public park you say?) would turn this "park" into Coney Island. Now, when does Stanton quit?
March 5, 2009, 12:52 pm

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