New Parks for North Brooklyn Fail To Take Root



Local Leaders Slam

City’s Lack of Progress

By Natalia V. Osipova

Special to Brooklyn Daily Eagle

GREENPOINT/WILLIAMSBURG — On Sunday afternoons, Gabriel Swain jogs from the intersection of Eagle and Franklin streets to the Williamsburg Bridge and back. His run — about 3.5 miles — takes place almost entirely on the streets of Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

“It would be great to have a waterfront park,” said Swain, 32, a writer for a technology company.

Greenpoint and Williamsburg have just 0.6 acres of open space per 1,000 residents — about one-sixth of the city average and less than a quarter of the 2.5 acres per 1,000 residents recommended by the Department of City Planning.

In 2005, the city announced a rezoning plan that mapped out 33 new acres of parks in the Brooklyn neighborhoods. But seven years later, only six acres have been built.

“There is nothing that should take that amount of time,” said Dewey Thompson, 50, a board member of the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning.

The city has committed $315,187,000 — about 25 percent of the Parks Department’s capital budget plan for fiscal years 2002 to 2022 for Brooklyn — toward building new park space in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. But the plans to bring more green to the neighborhoods have been snagged by everything from negotiations with property owners to issues with relocating a sewage tank.

Among the planned projects are:

• A 28-acre Bushwick Inlet Park along the East River between North 9th and North 13th streets.  The city has constructed six acres, so far, with a soccer field and esplanade. But a dispute with the owner of the existing CitiStorage facility over the sales price has delayed creation of more parkland.

• A two-acre Barge Park extension to the end of Franklin Street on the north waterfront. It depends on the demolition of a sewage tank at the wastewater treatment plant. The Parks Department expects to start construction next year, when the tank is slated to be replaced with barges.

•A three-acre Box Street Park that’s slated for an MTA bus parking lot at 65 Commercial St. In 2005, the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning got the city to include $14 million in its 2007 executive budget for construction of the park at the site, but funds were later trimmed.

“It is true that the Parks budget for the MTA site was cut from $14 million to $1 million some years ago during citywide budget cuts,” said Vickie Karp, a spokeswoman for the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Critics say officials aren’t making the park creation a big enough priority.

“The city has committed funds to build a new golf course, right? The city has money to give tax breaks to corporations, right? The city floats bonds for necessary infrastructure,” said Tom Angotti, urban affairs professor at Hunter College. “So why aren’t parks considered necessary and part of the city’s infrastructure?”