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Worst parks ever to get a spruce-up

Worst parks ever to get a spruce-up
Onward and greensward: Alexandria Sica, executive director of the Dumbo Improvement District, leads a tour of the planned fitness loop.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Brooklyn’s worst parks ever could be getting a temporary makeover.

The Dumbo Improvement District is looking for designers to help transform Bridge Park 1, Bridge Park 2, and Bridge Park 3, barren concrete parks at the base of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, into a workout loop.

“These are very under-utilized areas,” said Alexandria Sica, executive director of the pro-business group. “We’re hoping to breathe some life into them.”

The organization wants to take eight small parks in the area, including the Bridge Parks, which are a far cry from the nearby luxury of Brooklyn Bridge Park, and turn them into a mile-long fitness track. Designers can incorporate signs, paint, custom workout equipment, and other elements — as long as they get people moving, Sica said.

The Bridge Parks, which we profiled in September, live up to their Soviet-sounding names, tucked as they are into the shadows of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and the elevated expressway and consisting of little more than cracked pavement, a rusty playground, and a solitary basketball hoop. A few well-placed touches could turn the area from a dump into the perfect place to get your heart pumping, a design firm honcho said.

Park your carcass: Bridge Park 1, off of Jay Street in Dumbo, looks more like a place to curl up next to a warm trash barrel than a city park.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

“It’s an urban environment. It’s pretty nasty. It’s tough. It’s noisy,” said Laetitia Wolff, program director with the American Institute for Graphic Arts, which is helping with the project. “Graphic design could really help enhance its sense of place.”

The planned workout course is supposed to remain in place for a year after it gets installed this fall. The city’s Department of Small Business Services is footing the bill, which is expected to come to $40,000.
Robert Moses spearheaded construction of the portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that today separates Downtown from Dumbo in the 1950s and 1960s. The planned route for the elevated highway was adjusted to avoid cutting directly through Downtown and Brooklyn Heights. The Bridge Parks were made out of leftover space at the foot of the overpass and a visit makes it clear that they were afterthoughts.

“The shapes are dictated by the way the streets are sliced,” Sica said.

Sica hopes sprucing up the desolate expanses will encourage people to move between Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo more. The planned gym-rat route starts at the Cadman Plaza running loop, winds past Clumber Corner and through Bar and Grill Park, similarly uninviting slivers of grass, parts of them sloping up to meet the freeway, and finishes by traveling through the three Bridge Parks.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Bridge to somewhere: A map of the fitness route planned to criss-cross Dumbo, stopping in some of the borough’s worst parks.
Dumbo Improvement District

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