The still-shuttered Squibb Bridge connecting its namesake park on Columbia Heights — where Brooklyn Bridge Park bigwigs plan to put a new public pool — and the waterfront green space below will likely remain closed for at least two years, and maybe even longer, according to a local pol.
State Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D–Brooklyn Heights) on Oct. 10 told the neighborhood’s community board that leaders of the semi-private Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation promised to have Squibb Bridge, which abruptly shuttered in July, back up and running by the time the pool is set to open in 2020.
“We’ve been assured that whatever they do with that bridge, it will be ready for that pool to be available in 2020,” he said at the recent Community Board 2 meeting.
But days later, Kavanagh walked back his statement via a spokeswoman, who sent an unsolicited e-mail to this newspaper saying her boss merely hopes the bridge will open by the time the swimming hole does, after this reporter contacted Brooklyn Bridge Park for a comment on the timeline the pol shared with the board.
“He would hope the bridge will be available when the pool opens, but understands that the park needs to analyze various repair options before committing to a timeline,” said Danielle Zuckerman.
Last month, the head of Brooklyn Bridge Park told locals that Squibb Bridge will be closed indefinitely because what park keepers thought was a single faulty piece of wood in the zig-zagging span turned out to be a larger structural flaw, requiring a prolonged study with no end date by engineering firm Arup Group — the company that completed the previous $3-million, 32-month fix of the $4-million bridge, which has now been closed longer than it has been open.
And work on the new Squibb Park pool, as well as the span that connects the play space to Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1, may take even longer than predicted if it overlaps with the city’s forthcoming repairs to the triple-cantilevered stretch of the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway that runs beneath Columbia Heights, which could start as soon as 2020, according to officials.
The city’s expressway-repair plans include one option recently endorsed by Mayor DeBlasio, which calls for temporarily replacing the Brooklyn Heights Promenade — which runs between Remsen Street and Columbia Heights — with a six-lane speedway for the thousands of cars and trucks that travel the triple cantilever daily. The new elevated roadway would likely stretch between Adams Street and Congress Street, according to a rep from the Transportation Department, and run above Columbia Heights near Squibb Park, which the expressway currently cuts beneath.
The second option calls for closing the Promenade for two years and repairing the 1.5-mile stretch of expressway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street lane-by-lane, which means construction will in part still occur very close to Squibb Park and its forthcoming swimming hole.
But Kavanagh said Department of Transportation bigwigs told him that fixing the expressway will neither impact work on the pool, nor repairs to the Squibb Bridge, no matter what option is chosen.
“We’ve also been assured, that at this stage, there is no reason to think the BQE project will impede them from completing the pool and keeping it open,” he said.
And a Transportation Department rep said the agency “expects” the road’s repairs won’t complicate construction of the Squibb Park swimming hole — which one local civic leader isn’t holding his breath for, because both options for fixing the expressway require the city to close the stretch of Columbia Heights locals currently enter the park on.
“I don’t know how they are going to do that,” said Peter Bray, the executive director of civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association. “Even if you could build a pool who would want to use it?”
Neither reps for Arup Group nor Brooklyn Bridge Park responded to requests for comment.