Surf and no turf! Residents rally on river for promised parkland

Surf and no turf! Residents rally on river for promised parkland
Land oo!: Boaters arrive at Bushwick Inlet as part of a combined land-and-sea rally to push the city to complete the promised Bushwick Inlet Park.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

They rocked the boat!

Dozens of Greenpoint and Williamsburg residents stormed Bushwick Inlet by land and sea on Sunday to demand the city deliver a park it promised to build on the waterfront a decade ago.

Around 40 protesters on canoes and kayaks paddled into the cove near Kent Avenue between N. 14th and N. 15th streets on Aug. 9, waving flags and making noise. Meanwhile on land, around 100 protesters chanted and hung signs on the fence that surrounds an industrial lot that the city the city purchased last year but is yet to transform into green space.

The landlubbing demonstrators were cut off from their seafaring counterparts by the fenced-off lot, which they said highlighted the locals’ longing for waterfront green space.

“A lot of people wanted to get over the fence, see the water, and interact with the boaters, and I think that speaks to the issue itself,” said Steve Chesler, a Greenpoint resident and member of community group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park.

The city pledged to build a 28-acre park betwixt the East River and Kent Avenue, between N. Ninth Street and Meresole Avenue, in 2005 when it rezoned much of the Greenpoint and Williamsburg waterfront to allow developers to erect luxury-housing skyscrapers.

Fenced In: Greenpointers decked out the fence of an industrial lot around Bushwick Inlet during a rally to push the city to complete Bushwick Inlet Park.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The high-rises have gone up — bringing thousands of new residents to the neighborhoods — but the city has so far only purchased 17 acres of the land it needs to build the planned 28-acre Bushwick Inlet Park, and has turned only seven acres of that into parkland.

The protestors, many of whom are longtime area residents, said they wish more of the new high-rise inhabitants had come to Sunday’s protest, as their families will also suffer from the lack of open space in the neighborhoods, which have some of the lowest ratio of green-space per-resident in the city.

“If I had kids, I can’t imagine a more important cause, especially with the lack of green-space for kids to run around in around here,” said Gina Leone, a Greenpoint resident. “But it seems like people have no idea what this lot is supposed to be for.”

The activists say they plan to host another rally in the fall, and won’t give up until the city makes good on its promise.

“The neighborhood needs this park — we deserve it — but we’re going to have to fight for it,” said Greenpointer Kate Yourk.

Reach reporter Harry MacCormack at hmaccormack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @HMacBKPaper.
Leaving a mark: Greenpointers, including Gina Leone, wrote messages in support of the park.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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