Weed strewn Brigham Street lot to become park

Steve Barrison of the Bay Improvement Group wants the city to transform an abandoned lot on Brigham Street at Emmons Avenue into a public park.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

The city has resurrected a 20-year-old plan to turn a vacant Sheepshead Bay lot near the Belt Parkway on-ramp into a park by 2016, but don’t expect it to come with the once-promised bells and whistles — or a bathroom.

The Parks Department revived the project for the weed-strewn lot — which is slightly larger than a football field — at the foot of Brigham Street last month after Mayor Bloomberg and Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Marine Park) agreed to shell out a combined $3.5 million in tax payer dollars to convert the spot into the public park residents had wanted there since the early 1990s.

Yet city officials say the earmarked funds will only pay for a basic, stripped-down park — not the 21st century oasis with high-tech equipment that both planners and residents had once envisioned for the lot.

“We’ll be able to build a nice park, but it won’t be fancy or have everything everybody wants,” Fidler said.

The bare-bones green space will feature a network of pathways and benches with views of Sheepshead Bay, Parks officials told Fidler, civic leaders and members of Community Board 15 at a planning session last month.

The park won’t have a bathroom either, but the designs call for an underground water line to be put in for a future restroom if more funding becomes available, according to sources familiar with the plan.

“It’s going to be capable of getting more amenities in the future,” said Community Board 15 Chairwoman Theresa Scavo.

The humble plans are a far cry from the state-of-the-art facility planners bragged about in 2008. Back then, the advocacy group New Yorkers for Parks teamed up with the Sheepshead Bay-Plumb Civic Association to propose a $3 million to $7 million park with solar-powered trash compactors, composting toilets and a comfort station they claimed would make the waterfront spot one of Brooklyn’s fanciest open spaces. But the plan was scuttled after funding never materialized.

In 2009, officials agreed to spend $500,000 to perform required soil tests to make sure the site wasn’t contaminated from an old oil pipeline used by the Knapp Street sewage treatment plant that runs underneath the city-owned property.

But the test borings were never performed and the project grounded to a halt — until now.

Still, residents say the pared-down plan is a step in the right direction.

“Sheepshead Bay needs more park space,” said Steve Barrison, president of the Bay Improvement Group.

The site was a marshland until 1966 when the Department of Environmental Protection filled it in.

Three decades later, the city opened a now-defunct sludge pump underneath the property to handle sewage plant overflow.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

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