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Green$pace! Advocates fear Bushwick Inlet Park will go private

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Williamsburg park lovers are worried that the city will let apartments rise up in the planned Bushwick Inlet Park because of the glacial pace it is taking to fund the greenspace.

Property values have skyrocketed in the area during the eight years since the city approved a controversial rezoning of the Williamsburg waterfront, and six riverside properties along Kent Avenue north of East River State Park that the city planned to purchase for $12 million and turn into parks are worth at least eight times that price. The city now says it does not have the money to pay for the land, and that has park advocates fearful that a Brooklyn Bridge Park-style public-private partnership, which could include housing on the site, is in the works.

“I’ll be shocked if we get this park without a big tower sitting in the middle of it,” said Community Board 1 member Ryan Kuonen. “That’s the only model the city seems to recognize as a viable way to build park space.”

The park advocates point to Brooklyn Bridge Park, a waterfront development below Brooklyn Heights that for years was promised to be a self-sustaining oasis funded by in-park activities, restaurants, and a hotel. But at the last minute, the government okayed condos, whose maintenance fees would go toward upkeep.

So far, the city only owns two of the six parcels it planned for Bushwick Inlet Park. The parks department plans to purchase the third plot, the Bayside Fuel site just north of the current park, in 2015. However, the city does not have the money to buy the three remaining plots — CitiStorage, Monitor, and Motiva, which are all along Kent Avenue just north of North Tenth Street.

“Thus far there is no schedule to begin these acquisitio­ns,” said Parks spokeswoman Meghan Lalor.

But advocates say the city owes them the park, because it was part of the zoning deal that allowed condo buildings nearby.

“They rezoned and made commitments,” said Laura Treciokas, a member of Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park and a board member of the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning. “We allowed giant towers to go up on the waterfront and in exchange, we get some parkland.”

And that park should be provided by the city without the threat of privatization, which some advocates claim is a growing trend.

“They’ve done their best at trying to distance themselves from taking responsibility for parks,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates. “Putting condos in is one of the ridiculous things they’ve resorted to.”

The parks department declined to comment on the concerns, other than reiterate that the three plots remain unfunded.

But the city hasn’t completely ignored its commitment to build the park. A soccer field opened last year and a building housing its public rest rooms, community room, offices, and storage is planned to open in June.

The second parcel, on Kent at North Tenth Street, is still being tested for toxins and used only for summer concerts hosted by the Open Space Alliance.

In recent years, the city has had a series of misses in planned parks in North Brooklyn. The 65 Commercial Street park in Greenpoint has been hampered for years. In late 2012, after a struggle of many years, the city finally opened the long-awaited Transmitter Park.

Kuonen added that the city’s inability to get the park built “the second biggest failure of the Bloomberg administra­tion,” after the lack of planning for Hurricane Sandy.

“This is huge. It was a big, huge promise,” said Kuonen. “It’s one of the most frustrating things and by far one of the most visible.”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Updated 7:32 am, April 29, 2013
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Reasonable discourse

Northside from Williamsburg says:
Is anyone upset that the biggest waterfront park East River State Park in our area has been rented out to a private enterprise Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea? The park used to be a tranquil plac to go with your family and now every weekend it is a circus. Also, the State is not getting paid that much money and have told us how they are going to put the money backk into the park.
April 29, 2013, 9:19 am
Edge denizen from Williamsburg says:
I'm not upset. The Flea is bringing valuable funds to the East River Park. Where else is the money going to come from? NYS is broke and that park needs maintenance and upkeep. A bunch of ugly broken concrete slabs is now being put to use generating revenues. Yay! I do hope that it gets put back in the park too.
April 29, 2013, 11:33 am
Greenpoint Mom from Greenpoint says:
The park cost 10 Million to build and pays 1 Million for its staff, but they have no money?

The state needs to tell the community where and how much money is going back into the park. The bell for the toy train fell off two years ago and it has not been replaced. The playground equipment has been given no maintenance
in 4 years.
April 29, 2013, 11:43 am
ms nomer from greenpoint says:
Yes the park does need money for maintenance and upkeep. Which $1500 is not going to satisfy. Whoever brokered this deal screwed the community big time. The Flea should have been asked to pay a lot more. If looking to private interests to subsidize public spaces is our future, we need to be getting a whole lot more than this.
April 29, 2013, 12:05 pm
Anne from 11211 says:
It is a crazy-bad deal financially, and a worse deal culturally. These parks clowns can't even broker favorable deals for the community. The Flea and Smorgasburg pay 1500. to rent the park each day, and they gross over 50,000. just in table rentals alone. So that's all well and good that economies are stimulated with sales, but the landlord (us) is getting the short shift. If these private, Goldman Sachs backed companies (The Flea & Smorgasburg) had to pay rent on property of this size they would be paying at least 40k a month. I would rather see neighborhood groups doing free family events in the parks than these celebrations of constant commercialization and consumerism. It is so gauche and boring to be the epicenter of the snacking and sipping culture that this type of tourism brings.
April 29, 2013, 2:12 pm
How to Contact Your Local Officials from Williamsburg says:
If you have issues email these people

Catherine Peake: peakec@assembly.state.ny.us

karen.phillips@parks.ny.gov

belinda@danielsquadron.org Belinda Cape
April 29, 2013, 2:22 pm
The Honest Truth. from 11249 says:
The park, as it stands today, is awful. Broken, decaying concrete is neither park nor nice. I say the $60k they get from the flea and smorgasburg is a good thing and lets an otherwise completely unused space pay for 1-2 employees' annual salary.

If condos speed up park development I say build away, but before they give the go-ahead I would like (i) a fully funded capital commitment with no strings attached (the promises, as we have seen are worth zip), and (ii) a detailed explanation of exactly how they plan to address the transportation issue that has already come to a head with fully funded capital to carry it out. The L is a disaster from 8-10:30 every morning. Will they hire Tokyo-style subway stuffers to jam people in? The neighborhood needs a plan from the city.

But mark my words, and hear them well, if this involved South Brooklyn and the precious people of park slope or BK heights, Daniel Squadron and his people would have fought to the ends of the earth to make the park happen before capitulating. The politicians don't care; North Brooklyn doesn't vote well (excluding the Satmars) and the median income as of the last census was too low for anyone to recognize your voice. Ironically, it may be residents on the much maligned waterfront that make the politicians finally pay attention to improving the neighborhood infrastructure, because if you aren't rich your voice definitively does not matter to anyone involved in the process. It is blatantly apparent in how this "promised" park situation played out.
April 29, 2013, 2:55 pm
The Honest Truth from 11211 says:
Did your family honestly sit around on a decaying slab of concrete as a leisure activity? That park is embarrassing and the space used by the flea was entirely unused 365 days a year. I view it from my apartment, nobody was there, the $60k or so they get from the flea is helpful.
April 29, 2013, 3:03 pm
The Honest Math from 11211 says:
20 dates x 1500= 30k paid to parks. As much as one million dollars in vendor rental fees to the promoter.
April 29, 2013, 3:23 pm
You Stand Corrected from 11211 says:
$1500x2 (Sat Sun) x 20 = 60k.

You stand corrected.
April 29, 2013, 3:36 pm
shut up from 11249 says:
10 weekends, not 20 weekends. 20 dates.
April 29, 2013, 3:41 pm
Hope from 11211 says:
3%=crap
April 29, 2013, 3:45 pm
Tara from 11211 says:
3 percent
April 29, 2013, 3:47 pm
Gross is not net from won won too won won says:
Gross is not net. It isn't.
April 29, 2013, 3:52 pm
Counting and Crowing from won won too won won says:
April, May, June, July, August, September, October

= 10 weekends

Wait, no, not it doesn't.
April 29, 2013, 3:55 pm
Jane from 11222 says:
Ryan's math sucks too, but her pseudonyms are more clever. It. The deal is bad if it isn't at least 12-15%. It's not even close.
April 29, 2013, 4:39 pm
ty from pps says:
Hmm... So, unused land (yes, unused) producing nothing is better than one that produces a little? I see.

So, if the "deal" was 12% how many of you whiners would be silent and say, "Yes, this is a good deal." You'd just trot out some other excuse to suggest a company using a decaying chunk of concrete is the end of the world.

Do you know why this plot of land is even *useable* for the Flea? Because the Flea folks paid to prepare the plot of land.

As soon as this land has any plan to become an *actual* park, guess who won't be allowed to use the plot for their weekend business? Work on that. In the meantime, it's $60,000 or NOTHING.
April 29, 2013, 5:26 pm
Terry from 11249 says:
I love seeing all the politicians and non-profits clamoring around Brodsy. Courting him for nothing. Maybe trying to get a little slice of the 200 million deal he wants for the behemoth Citistorage eyesore. What a racket the community board & political scene is.
April 29, 2013, 5:37 pm
Jane from 11249 says:
It is an actual park already, and it is used. You should check it out, ty. Anytime monday through friday is terrific. The weekends suck because it is full of tools like you and your idiot friends noshing and shopping their way into oblivion.
April 29, 2013, 5:43 pm
Mom from Williamsburg says:
Children like to ride their scooters on those slabs. Now people are drinking on those slabs on the weekends.
April 29, 2013, 6:15 pm
ty from pps says:
Yeah... concrete slabs. A real treasure. That aside, I didn't think it was necessary to state this, but I guess it is. The Flea -- last time I went (last year, so perhaps everything has changed) -- didn't take up the whole park.

Wait, there are people there? At a park!?! Say it ain't so. Sorry the CITY (of 8 million) makes your life of solitude on the waterfront so difficult. Can you imagine if this place wasn't a sad wasteland of concrete slabs and scrubby grass? There'd be all sorts of people there all the time!
April 29, 2013, 7:33 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Mom, people like to drink on those slabs. But your children are riding their scooters on them during the week.
April 30, 2013, 7:01 am

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