By Dennis Holt
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In the early stages of the lengthy public process for planning Brooklyn Bridge Park, one of the most discussed issues was park access — how do you get there?
Everyone knew that there were only two major entrances — Old Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue, with Joralemon Street providing access to Furman Street.
Joralemon Street residents and people in the Willowtown area were sure the park would bring hordes of people, on foot or by car, to their narrow cobblestone street. One resident even hung out a Revolutionary War flag reading "Don't Tread on Me."
There was talk about putting up a gate at Furman and Joralemon streets, some talk of an entrance off Montague Street, a pedestrian connection from the Clark Street subway tunnel, as well as increased attention to ferry service and commuter buses from Downtown Brooklyn. (The latter actually worked quite well when the floating swimming pool was in use, and this approach will be adopted again.) A footbridge is also now being built from Squibb Park across Furman Street to the new park, but this won't affect the Joralemon Street crowd.
Until last week, discussions about access weren't heard much. But now there's chatter again because of the plan to build an enclosed field house on Furman Street for year-round athletic activities. That structure could seat 2,500 people. How would they get there?
All the old concerns began to surface again at a Community Board 2 meeting, which has led to the bigger question — what kind of park do we want?
There are three kinds of parks: passive with few people, active with many people, and a combination of both. Park planners obviously prefer the latter, and I suspect most people would vote for the latter as well.
The old causes and concerns are boiling up again and will have to be resolved before plans can go forward. But there is no way the city is going to snub a $40 million gift associated with 10 years of operational subsidies. A working agreement will have to be hammered out between warring factions.