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City insists it is still committed to finishing Bushwick Inlet Park

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The city insists that it is committed to completing a Williamsburg and Greenpoint waterfront park that it promised a decade ago — it just won’t say how, when, or with what money.

Following months of silence to reporters, locals pols, and park advocates, a spokeswoman for the Mayor DeBlasio finally said last week that the city still intends to expand Bushwick Inlet Park to the full 28 acres that the Bloomberg administration committed to in 2005, but refused to say if and when it will acquire a key plot of land that sits smack-dab in the center of the planned park and is needed to complete the space.

“NYC Parks continues to take substantive steps toward the development of Bushwick Inlet Park’s additional parcels, which together with the completed area will bring 28 new acres of public green space to the Williamsburg-Greenpoint waterfront,” said spokeswoman Monica Klein.

When pushed to clarify, Klein reiterated her message.

“We continue to pursue completing the whole park,” she replied and refused to respond further.

But local residents and politicians, who have been trying to get city officials to meet with them to discuss the park for months, say a commitment without details is worthless.

“They are ducking the question,” said state assemblyman Joe Lentol (D-Greenpoint). “If they want to build the park, they need to spend the money. It is that simple.”

The city first committed to building a 28-acre park in 2005 when it rezoned much of the area’s waterfront to allow developers to erect luxury apartment and condo buildings. The planned park is supposed to run for five-and-a-half continuous blocks starting at the northern edge of East River State Park. Ten years on, the city has only procured 17 acres of that land, about seven acres of which it has turned into actual parkland so far.

But the city currently has no schedule or funding in place to purchase the remaining 11 acres of land on Kent Avenue between N. 10th and N. 12th streets, which houses several CitiStorage warehouses and divides the current parkland from the other spaces the city has acquired.

Park advocates say the city cannot afford to wait any longer. In 2005, the lot was valued at about $19 million. By 2011, owner Norman Brodsky was claiming he believed he could get $120 million for it, and the city conceded at the time that it didn’t have the cash to buy the land. Brodsky now claims he could sell the space for upwards of $500 million. Any such sale would be complicated by the fact that the land is currently zoned for commercial use — which means a property developer couldn’t just buy the site and slap a condo building on top of it without convincing the city to rezone the land — though a group of developers has now secured an option to purchase the site, according to an April report.

Last month, DeBlasio released a new environmental agenda that trumpeted the land the city has already acquired for the park, but made no mention of the CitiStorage lot.

The city’s failure to produce a plan for finishing the park proves its latest statement is just hot air, say parks activists, who have rallied by the hundreds in recent months to demand the administration get its act together.

“They are trying to say the right things, but they clearly have no plan,” said Jens Rassmussen, a member of Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park. “That is why they are not meeting with anyone. They do not have any plan or structure to put their money where their mouth is.”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Updated 3:25 am, May 27, 2015
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Reasonable discourse

Northside Ned from Greenpoint says:
He's totally going to get you that park guys. Just you wait. de Blasio's word is as good as gold.
May 27, 2015, 8:50 am
bloomberg from greenpoint says:
Yeah, this is totally on De Blasio - nevermind that crooked as lying mother——er Bloomberg who set this deal up.
May 27, 2015, 9:24 am
Northside Ned from Greenpoint says:
Yes, my god, look what happened to Williamsburg under Bloomberg's watch.
May 27, 2015, 9:27 am
Southside Den says:
You're not getting a bigger park.
May 27, 2015, 3:49 pm
VoiceOfTruth from Reality says:
Obviously by giving developers the right to build more skyscrapers in exchange for a small waterfront esplanade, just like Bloomberg always intended when he lied in the first place.
May 27, 2015, 4:07 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
New York is one of the few world cities that scorns its waterfront properties and keeps it unusable for the general public.
May 27, 2015, 8:08 pm
Juan from Gowanus says:
I hope everyone in neighborhoods with rezoning proposals on the table is getting the message: the city's promises are worthless.
May 28, 2015, 11:35 am
Chris from Greenpoint says:
The trust in which this city develops is at stake.
May 28, 2015, 12:44 pm
jspech from bed-stuy says:
Totally agree w/Juan
May 28, 2015, 8:12 pm
you know it from Greenpoint says:
Brodsky is not as good of a businessman as Bloomberg and so he's holding the City hostage. A greedy thug (?) as so many on the waterfront are.

Why isn't he content donating his bit of run down land? That would be the definition of success.
May 29, 2015, 5:48 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
Without the rezoning, the land is not worth as much as the owner hopes. Make sure the pressure is kept on the mayor to fulfill the promise made to the community. Time for some justified eminent domain.
May 30, 2015, 8:22 am
Brian Walsh from Greenpoint says:
I made a documentary on the history and future of Bushwick Inlet in 2011. The issues are still exactly the same (but boy, does the neighborhood look 'old' in the movie!)
If you're interested, you can watch it here:
https://youtu.be/JZuzMxGTJ1U
Or from the movie's website:
https://bushwickcreek.wordpress.com/
June 23, 2015, 10:13 am

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