A key — and much-hyped — design element of the proposed Brooklyn Bridge Park development that would have created Boardwalk-like promenades over the East River has been quietly abandoned by state officials who deemed it harmful to aquatic life.
The loss of one the most-prominent features of the open-space and condo development is the latest setback for the beleaguered project.
“These walkways were the most innovative and exciting design elements of the park plan because they allowed people access down to — and into — the water,” said Marianna Koval, executive director of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, the non-profit group that schedules events and activities along the waterfront.
Besides the aesthetic appeal, the bridges would have made the park more pedestrian friendly. It provided links between three of the six piers that comprise Brooklyn Bridge Park, allowing park users to stroll from one pier to the next without having to go all the way back to dry land.
Koval said her group would appeal to state Department of Environmental Conservation to reconsider the decision, which was made earlier this year, but revealed to the public at a presentation on Tuesday night about the 85-acres of greenspace, condos, shops and hotel rooms that make up the “park.”
Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, at NYU-Polytechnic University, Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation President Regina Myer dismissed reports that the one of the first elements of the park — a grand plaza, greenmarket and skating rink under the Brooklyn Bridge — that was scheduled to open next year had been delayed by five years because the city Department of Transportation needs the land to repair the span.
“We are proceeding with the construction plans,” said Myer. “It includes all of the Brooklyn Bridge Plaza.” But moments later, outside the earshot of the 75 people at the meeting, Myer admitted to The Brooklyn Paper that the land squabble with the DOT had not been resolved.
The Brooklyn Bridge Park development has been fraught with, controversy, soaring costs and delays since its conception over 20 years ago. The 1.3-mile strip was scheduled to be fully built by 2012 with $150 million allocated by then-Gov. Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg in 2002.
Costs have more than doubled and a new official estimate has been promised for this fall. Taxpayer funds have not kept up with overruns either. There’s enough money to finish only 66 percent of the park’s construction in the next four to six years, Myer said.
The park’s maintenance is another flashpoint. By mandate, the development must generate revenue to cover its annual expenses — estimated to be $15 million in 2002. The planners ignited a firestorm with open space purists when they chose to include 1,400 units of luxury housing and a hotel inside the park’s footprint. Residents and hotels guests would pay fees to the park to cover operating costs instead of general taxes.