Work underway to cleanse, make over toxic Ft. Greene park

Coming soon: Workers recently broke ground on long-awaited renovations to Fort Greene’s Bam Park, which officials say will reopen to visitors next summer.
Quennell Rothschild and Partners

It’s about Bam time!

Workers finally kicked off the makeover of a long-shuttered Fort Greene park near the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Oct. 18, and visitors will officially be allowed in — unlike those who illegally snuck into the green space this June when director Spike Lee left it unlocked and accessible after filming there — as soon as next summer, according to the head of the group overseeing the job.

“This project will deliver much-needed green space for residents, workers, and visitors in Downtown Brooklyn as it develops into a true mixed-use neighborhood,” said Regina Myer, the leader of quasi-governmental business-boosting organization the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

The city locked the gates to the triangular Bam Park bounded by Lafayette Avenue and Fulton and St. Felix streets more than 13 years ago due to unstable ground, which environmentalists later found filled with contaminated soil containing dangerous amounts of arsenic, mercury, lead, and pesticides left behind from tenement buildings that once stood on the site, according to a 2012 study.

In 2014, however, Mayor DeBlasio promised to scrub the soil and reopen the parkwhich sits opposite the redesigned Fowler Square plaza at the bow-tie intersection of Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue — and officials, with the help of partnership bigwigs, tapped landscape architects at Quennell Rothschild and Partners to transform the green space that year.

And recent tests showed the toxins in Bam Park’s dirt are concentrated in just a few isolated areas at levels that can be remediated, according to a rep for the partnership, who said an environmental-engineering firm is moving forward with a plan to cleanse the land after the city signed off on the scheme last year.

Following the remediation, workers from architectural-engineering company McKissack and McKissack will excavate the site and install new utilities there as soon as next spring, before Quennell Rothschild designers get to work putting new pathways, seating, and plants in the green space.

Bam Park’s transformation also calls for ripping out the iron fence encircling the lawn to make it more welcoming, replacing the sidewalks surrounding it, chopping down five trees outside it at the corner of Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue, and razing the gazebo inside the meadow, which officials claim is structurally unsound, according to the partnership rep.

The $3.2-million job is funded with cash from both the city and state, and the meadow will be maintained by the Department of Parks and Recreation once renovations are complete.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Sneak preview: Director Spike Lee unwittingly let locals inside the long-closed meadow this summer after leaving its iron gate, which will be ripped out as part of the makeover, unlocked.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

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