Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Brooklyn Bridge Park Closer to Reality

On the heels of Superfund victory in the Gowanus, comes a positive step in making Brooklyn Bridge Park a reality. Our state senator Daniel Squadron led our community to a first step victory that will bring the park under the city's control, rather than the state's, with more funding and a better chance for active recreational amenities over luxury housing on parkland.

Many more details are in Senator Squadron's press release below.

Brooklyn Bridge Park:
Promises Made, Promises Kept
Squadron-Millman-Mayor MOU Fulfills Senator Squadron’s 2008 Campaign Pledge
New York—State Senator Daniel Squadron announced today that he and Assembly Member Joan Millman—with the support of the Governor—signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of New York that will, for the first time, win the City’s commitment to complete Brooklyn Bridge Park, mandate serious consideration of alternatives to housing and include plans and funding for additional year-round amenities in the park—all changes on which Senator Squadron insisted.  In the agreement, the City will take over responsibility for completing and managing the park.  The Memorandum of Understanding represents a significant step toward realizing the 5-point plan for a “real, world-class Brooklyn Bridge Park” that Senator Squadron laid out in August 2008.

Senator Squadron said, “Today’s agreement is a great victory for the community and the city.  We get a commitment to complete the park, a path to find alternatives to housing, and increased year-round amenities.  I want to thank the local community leaders who have fought so hard for a real, world-class park, as well as Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson, Assembly Member Joan Millman, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Borough President Marty Markowitz and Council Members Brad Lander and Steve Levin for their work on making this park a reality.  It’s a win for our community and our city, and a significant step toward achieving a true Harbor Park—a Central Park for the center of our city.”

Senator Squadron’s 2008 5-Point Plan is reflected in the agreement announced today:
1) Housing in the park
•  2008 Plan:  No new housing within the park’s boundaries.
•  Promise Kept:  A newly created Subcommittee on Alternatives to Housing will conduct an open process to consider alternative financing mechanisms to housing in the park.  The City cannot pursue housing at the John Street site before July 2011 or at Pier 6 before July 2013. Both local state elected officials, Senator Squadron and Assembly Member Millman, hold vetoes over the construction of housing at those sites.
2) Park amenities
•  2008 Plan:  Create year-round recreation (e.g., swimming pool, ice skating rink, field house, cultural presentation/performance space, affordable waterfront concessions).
•  Promise Kept:  The new Brooklyn Bridge Park Operating Entity will provide $750,000 toward a recreational bubble on Pier 5, issue an RFP for an ice skating rink in the park, build 2,200 square feet of indoor community space and rooftop tennis courts as part of the planned Maintenance and Operations building, and pursue a permanent floating pool for the park.
3) Designation as a park
•  2008 Plan:  State legislation to designate the area as parkland.
•  Promise Kept:  As a part of the transfer of Brooklyn Bridge Park to the City of New York, the City and State have agreed to support legislation to designate the area as parkland.
4) A linked harbor park
•  2008 Plan:  A multi-borough commission on linking Governor’s Island, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Hudson River Park and the East River Waterfront.
•  Promise Kept:  Last year, Senator Squadron successfully pushed for direct ferry service from Fulton Ferry Landing to Governors Island. He also advocated for a ferry landing at Pier 6, now part of the park plan.  The new agreement represents another step toward creating a unified Harbor Park linking Brooklyn, Manhattan and Governors Island.
5) A public review of park finances
•  2008 Promise:  An immediate public 30-day audit of projected costs and revenues.
•  Promise Kept:  Senator Squadron successfully petitioned the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation to conduct an immediate review of projected costs and revenues, and hosted a public meeting in January 2009 to present the updated projections to the community. The new agreement requires an annual audit of its financial statements by an outside accounting firm.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Like Senator Squadron, I’m a big supporter of the park and am excited to see that the city takeover will clear the way for a partial opening this spring as well as a full build-out, but I am skeptical of some of the things he’s proposing – some of this sounds like buildings that could go just about anywhere. Does a floating pool make any environmental sense at all? Also, the “recreational bubble” on Pier 5 – until I see some kind of image that makes this look good, what I anticipate is that this will be some ugly, second-rate, energy-gobbling (hot in the summer, cold in the winter), monstrosity. Would you give up five acres of Prospect Park for something like that?

Also, I understand why nobody wants to give up potential park space to the housing developments that are being proposed to fund park maintenance, but in my mind the jury is still out with respect to the good effect these buildings might have on noisy, noisy, noisy, vast, and inhospitable Furman Street. As compared putting up a new building on a pier, where we know it will ruin views because we remember what the old pier sheds looked like, new buildings that bring more daily life to the hostile territory of Furman street might actually be something of an improvement – not to mention one of the best ways to block noise from the BQE.