Building a new Fort: Community board approves Ft. Greene Park makeover after months of debate

Approved: This is what the new Fort Greene Park entrance at Myrtle Avenue and St. Edwards Street will look like, now that Community Board 2 has approved the makeover.
Brooklyn Paper
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They gave it the Greene light.

A controversial plan to makeover an entrance to Fort Greene Park is moving ahead after Community Board 2 voted to approve it on Wednesday. Locals charged for months that nearby residents, many of whom live in public-housing complexes, either didn’t know about the changes or didn’t want them, but board members’ outreach to park-goers found otherwise, according to the head of the advisory panel.

“They were saying was ‘Enough with the talk already, when are you going to start this?’ ” said chairwoman Shirley McCrae.

The Department of Parks and Recreation wants to redesign the entry at Myrtle Avenue and St. Edwards Street into a grand entrance leading to the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument by cutting down some trees, widening the pathway to the memorial, and paving over existing dirt. Plans also include adding a water feature, resurfacing the basketball courts, fixing the sidewalks, and adding more lighting.

The panel voted to approve the proposal by a tally of 48–0, with one recusal and one abstention.

CB2’s Parks Committee voted to approve the design in June, but locals, including elected officials, requested the board postpone a final vote until more people had a chance to weigh in on the redesign. The community board’s executive committee then heeded their demands and voted table the decision until more outreach was conducted.

In July, the parks department set up tables in the meadow where reps informed patrons of the proposal. And Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Marty Maher also led tours of the lawn, during which community board members solicited locals for their thoughts on the makeover.

Several board members at the Wednesday meeting said they found park-goers had no issues with the new entrance and a local pol, who took one of the tours, urged the panel to approve the redesign, saying striking it down would be a mistake.

“I would hate to see the opportunity come and go without us having a new and wonderful park,” said state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D–Clinton Hill).

Now that the community board signed off on the plan, the parks department will get to work on the green space’s renovations. Construction is expected to begin between the spring and fall of 2019 and will be done in phases in order to keep the Myrtle Avenue entrance open to patrons throughout the process, according to an agency spokeswoman.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 5:55 pm, July 9, 2018: Additional details on the makeover's timeline added.
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Reasonable discourse

mom from Ft. Greene says:
I always thought there was some political grandstanding going on about this. It does seem like a win on all fronts; I couldn't understand the opposition.
Sept. 15, 2017, 1:32 pm
L. J. from Fort Greene says:
Senator Montgomery did a 180. What a slick operator she is. She was opposed to the extravagant, elitist parks plan on the grounds of it hurting the residents of the projects on Myrtle who use that end of the park. The plan does target the NYCHA resident who are majority users of exactly this triangle corner of the park. The corner is "too black." The Parks plan will help fix that problem. Sen. Montgomery and Assemblyman Mosley and the entire community board couldn't be more excited to back the change.
Sept. 15, 2017, 4:49 pm
Luxury Developers Thrilled! from Myrtle Ave says:
MARP-their "friends" the Red Apple Group...with their new luxury buildings occupied by the 'haves' are delighted with the Mayor and the Parks Commissioner's plan to sanitize the corner.

Cop cars will have a far easier time traversing the new redesign-the replacement long ''road/plaza" from sidewalk to the foot of the Monument steps-easy-peasy...

Kiosks will be set up in the park for commercial gain (check out the proposed documented Parks plan)

Trees will be cut down and the historic grassy mounds the kids play on and love-'disappeared'...

Closures from 12 to 18 or more months and many millions of dollars of taxpayer money to accommodate builders like Catsimatidis...much more important than building more needed park toilets or enhancing the playground...

Senator Montgomery & those AWOL electeds...Community Board 2/McRae et al -never met a developer scheme or a top down agency initiative they didn't love! The usual rubber-stamping by the usual complicit players.

And...the luxury developers who'll get the corner of the park sanitized are thrilled!

The many local neighbors who were obviously persona non grata for the Parks Commissioner & CB2... were video'ed stating their concerns & opinions-they were roundly ignored & beg to disagree:
Sept. 15, 2017, 5:20 pm
Ulla from Fort Greene says:
Parks Without Borders is Park Without Projevts. The point of it is to get tid of Ingersoll and Whitman because who needs all those poor blacks taking up all that super valuable land in those delapidated old buildings. The PWB plan takes away a little more of the NYCHA neighborhood. NYCHA will be going too one of these days.
Sept. 16, 2017, 6:28 am
Joe from Fort Greene says:
The opposition to this project is an extremely small whiny minority of paranoid conspiracy theorists who will latch on to anything to complain. They are no different than the "birthers" or "truthers" or fluoride in the water people. They have complained about anything and everything because they are too thick to look at anything with an open mind.

If any of these people actually looked at the plan they would see that there aren't really very many changes at all. One entrance is being moved to the corner, ramps are being installed, and the mounds are being removed. That's all. The rest is better lighting, new paving, fixing the sidewalk, fitness, and lots of BBQ.

What exactly is the problem here? People are talking about sanitizing the area? What does that mean? Making it look nicer? Fixing crumbling pavement? Allowing the elderly or people in wheelchairs to access the park more easily? This is somehow going against the NYCHA folks? It is my understanding that most of the people who picnic come from the Ingersoll and Whitman housing. So parks is putting in MORE bbq and picnicking. They're also putting in tables and chairs where the game tables are.... and more of them. People can use them for picnicking too. So exactly how is more picnicking options somehow marginalizing "poor blacks" like Ulla here mentions?

It's just so ironic that when the parks department chooses to update an area used by "poor people," they get chastised for doing so. I guess poor people don't deserve nice things and they should just have spent the money on the "rich side" of the park.

Maybe certain people should spend more time advocating for what the community does here and needs instead of complaining about nonsense just for the sake of complaining. If they did, maybe they'd realize that the plan is giving them exactly what they want.
Sept. 16, 2017, 1:11 pm
Veronica says:
I guess after all these changes they'll have to re-name it : butthole park.
Sept. 16, 2017, 5:21 pm
de toke-ville from Paris, Texas says:
Well, at least Joe gets it. LDT!, the last time Community Board 2 voted on something in this neck of the woods, it was to disapprove the zoning change at Myrtle and Flatbush. Montgomery did reverse her position. When she hadn't seen the design and was listening to a "whiny minority of paranoid conspiracy theorists," as Joe put it, she was against the project. After she saw the plans and walked the park, she was for the improvements. L.J., LDT! and Ulla might benefit from following her example.
Sept. 17, 2017, 1:28 pm
Elizabeth from Fort Greene says:
The opposition to the Parks Without Borders redesign began when the plan was set to go without there having been real outreach to the community. PWB is interested in homogenizing the parks according to a formula, bringing parks -- heretofore treasured for providing refuge FROM the streets -- INTO the streets. PWB are the kind of designers hired to work on a brownstone, wouldn't preserve the model as was: They'd tear down the front room and hall walls on the garden floor to make one big space "to let in light" and proceed through making changes to make changes. There are lots of designers who've separated lots of intact brownstones around here from their brilliant rowhouse functionality. Good design respects good design. Weak design wants to tag everything. Parks Commissioner Silver wants to be enshrined in Fort Greene Park with greats Olmsted and Vaux and McKim, Mead & White. He wants to knock the name A. E. Bye out to put his own in. A. E. Bye is the legendary landscape gardener who created the mythical mounds in Fort Greene Park. A. E. Bye was as revered in his time as Olmsted and Vaux and as McKim, Mead & White in architecture in their time. He completely belongs in their company in this park. Mr. Bye pioneered the field of environmental design. His designs emerged from his love of nature and his formal study of environment, this at a time -- the 1930s and 40s -- when landscapers functioned as exterior decorators. Bye became landscape designer assoluta meeting the needs of growing things in outdoor arrangements appealing to the eye. He was in demand by the super rich to lightly sculpt their fields and forests. You can see pictures of his work on George Soros's Hamptons spread. No one was better than A. E. Bye and the mounds in Fort Greene Park are among his last public works. They're mysterious and beautiful. They're unique. Nowhere else will you see mounds. Only in Fort Greene Park. The mounds are simple and sophisticated at the same time: They offer an inviting surface for people to play on, a soft landing for kids' falls, at the same time serving the environment by absorbing water. Ingenious. The charismatic mounds of A. E. Bye are the one utterly unique feature of the park. Why are they marked for destruction? To be replaced with concrete. That's the PWB plan, not kidding. Commissioner Silver and the anonymous designers of PWB couldn't hold A. E. Bye's pencil sharpener. No wonder they can't wait to destroy his work. It's insults their mediocrity.
Sept. 17, 2017, 6:31 pm
Tammy Tam says:
Elizabeth from Fort Greene - you are really oversimplifying matters with your brief concept above! The reality is actually much more complex and probably beyond your simple, non-academic, understanding!
Sept. 18, 2017, 8:19 am
landscape preservationist says:
"Legendary," Elizabeth? A.E. Bye never had the national stature of Olmsted or Vaux or the firm of McKim, Mead & White. He didn't even rise to the level of Dan Kiley, if we want to limit ourselves to contemporaneous modernist landscape architects. Bye's best work was his residential design, not public works projects like Fort Greene Park. (Assoluta is feminine, btw.) And the mounds? "Mythical," "mysterious and beautiful," and "simple and sophisticated." Hmmm.... Seems like hyperbole to me but you save the best for last; "The charismatic mounds of A. E. Bye are the one utterly unique feature of the park." Not the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument? Really?
Sept. 18, 2017, 10:23 am
Dan from Boerum Hill says:
Tammy Tan, you call out someone for being over simple and non-academic and say the truth is much more complex. Okay, what is it? As for the Martyrs Moniment, it is not unique but rather a McKim, Mead & White rendering in the classical style. McKim, Mead & White made their name on the work of ancients, which they emulated beautifully. The monument is beautiful.
Sept. 18, 2017, 12:52 pm
Kevin from Fort Greene says:
Dan Kiley and A E Bye were equally successful. Kiley's style was more geometric than Bye's. Kiley thought math ruled design. Bye was more intuitive, follow the flow of nature, just clip and snip here and there.
Sept. 18, 2017, 1:30 pm

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