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Bridging the gap: Bridge Park bigwigs want another walkway to waterfront, can’t promise new pool won’t close Squibb span

Closing again?: Brooklyn Bridge Park leaders joined locals’ calls for a new bridge connecting Brooklyn Heights to Brooklyn Bridge Park, and they cannot promise that the recently reopened Squibb Bridge will remain accessible during the construction of a new pool in the span’s namesake park.
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Brooklyn Bridge Park stewards are backing locals’ demands for a new footbridge from Brooklyn Heights to the green space, and they can’t promise that construction of the public pool coming to Squibb Park won’t force them to close its eponymous zig-zagging walkway to Brooklyn’s front yard.

“We wholeheartedly support more access points to the park,” said Eric Landau, who runs the private Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, which maintains the waterfront meadow. “We recognize the significant importance of Squibb Bridge to and from the park — it’s too early to tell what the [pool’s] exact impact would be, but a goal is to do everything we can to mitigate effects on that.”

The once famously bouncy bridge with a foot in Squibb Park reopened to the public last year after Brooklyn Bridge Park leaders shelled out $3.12 million to make it more stable, following complaints that the original walkway — which cost roughly $4 million and debuted in March 2013 before closing for repairs in August 2014 — had too much spring in its step.

Park-goers can also stroll to the East River–facing lawn via paths along Joralemon and Old Fulton streets, but the Squibb Bridge is the only overpass from the Heights to the park, Landau noted.

And access to the Columbia Heights–end of the bridge will likely be affected by work on a new permanent pool inside its namesake park that Brooklyn Bridge Park bigwigs will start to build when the meadow’s pop-up pool closes after its last season this summer.

But the potential temporary loss of the Squibb Bridge could be mitigated by the construction of a new footbridge to the park from the Montague Street–end of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which locals are demanding ahead of the looming repairs to the Brooklyn Queens–Expressway’s triple cantilever — which runs beneath the fabled overlook — to ensure easy access to the waterfront throughout the roadway’s reconstruction.

And Landau isn’t the only official supportive of another way down to Brooklyn Bridge Park — a handful of Brooklyn Heights pols recently penned a letter to the Department of Transportation, asking transit gurus to include a permanent, handicapped-accessible bridge in their plan for rehabilitating the expressway.

Officials said they hope to finish building the Squibb Park pool in 2020 — a year before the city expects to begin fixing the expressway — but acknowledged that completing the job in two years is a tall order, meaning that work on the swimming hole and the triple cantilever could likely overlap, further necessitating the creation of a new footbridge.

“Obviously that’s going to be a big challenge,” Brooklyn Heights state Sen. Brian Kavanagh, who signed the letter requesting the new bridge, said about finishing the pool by 2020 when it was announced earlier this month.

Landau — who is open to locations for a new footbridge that are a quick walk from nearby subways and buses — said it’s too soon to say how much cash his corporation could cough up to fund a walkway, but that he and fellow park stewards want to be involved in the process of bringing one to life.

We’re excited to be part of any sort of planning,” he said.

City transit gurus are reviewing the pols’ letter supporting the bridge bid, according to spokeswoman for the Transportation Department, which previously explored creating another way to the waterfront back when the slow-going repairs to Squibb Bridge showed no end in sight.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 5:42 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Allen Swerdlowe from NA says:
Amazingly ironic. When we were in the early stages of planning Brooklyn Bridge Park, a bridge from Montague was soundly rejected by those who lived in the Heights -- fearing an influx of "undesirables" into their neighborhood. It was the right thing to do then as it is now.
June 21, 9:47 am
Andrew Porter from Brooklyn Heights says:
Allen is correct. Although BH initially rejected the idea of outsiders coming through the area, the end result of thousands coming through anyway—especially via the formerly quiet Joralemon Street and Willowtown area—has placed the Heights squarely in the crosshairs.

On top of that, while original estimates were for a few hundred thousand visitors, the first year brought over a million. Estimates for 2018 are for five million—that's 5,000,000—all coming through this area.

Additional access points are urgently needed.
June 21, 4:43 pm
Lauren from Fort Greene says:
I don't like "strangers" in my neighborhood. This needs to be stopped.
June 21, 8:06 pm
ujh from (Now) Westchester County says:
Agree with Allen and Andrew; I well remember that the suggestion of park access via Montague Street was rejected immediately by residents of the historic district. The street and its merchants could have benefited from additional foot traffic then, and this need continues to exist.
June 21, 10:08 pm
Bob Grobe from Downtown says:
A detailed study of options was done in 2008. A ramp at the foot of Remsen Street heading sharply southwest down to the Pier 5 uplands looks like the best solution. Here's the link to the study:

https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/9481862/brooklyn-bridge-park-transportation-study-3-2008/6
June 22, 7:45 am
Gargoyle from Newkirk Plaza says:
A Montague Street entrance would provide direct access from the Borough Hall subway station. As a mixed residential and commercial street it would make for an engaging walk in contrast to the ghostly, sinister Joralemon Street and desolate Atlantic Avenue entrances.
June 22, 8:03 pm
Judi Francis says:
The BBP Defense Fund has been long, stalwart advocates of greater park access, particularly from Montague Street, closest to the highest concentration of transit. The irony is that many who now say they were for it, were not, particularly when it mattered most - when the housing plan was foisted on this "park" and greenery around condos was favored over a pool, a skating rink (year round, both), and an indoor field house - all features of the 2001 plan, removed when private housing came in. These recreational features are now being pushed outside the park's borders...One wonders if the removal of the Squibb Bridge isn't also for the residents of the Pierhouses whose bathrooms look out on to it? Or is this extraordinarily expensive Bridge so poorly engineered, the park knows it will never be safe and millions more will have to be spent to secure it? The interests of private housing inside the park abound and hypocrisy, thy name is BBP.
June 23, 2:01 am
Eddie R. from Brooklyn Heights says:
Amen Judi. Right to the point.
June 23, 8:34 pm
Sue from Heights says:
Lauren, that is a base canard used by others to divide us. Pls you stop suggesting it is real. It never began in the first place. Again, the tricks used by the park administrators and deBlasio to turn we in our communities against each other. Do not fall victim to their disgusting lies.
June 24, 7:58 am

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