Brooklyn Bridge Park Debuts!
After all these years, we can hardly contain our excitement that the first phase of Brooklyn Bridge Park is opening. Having been involved since the idea was first floated (in response to a proposed high-rise development scheme on the piers), the BHA has advocated, planned, pleaded, and negotiated for more than 20 years to see the Park come to life.
And now it's here. The New York Daily News recently provided an indepth preview and appreciation of what's there and what's coming in Brooklyn Bridge Park: Is It the New Central Park? Overstated? Many don't think so. NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe described the park as "possibly the most important public space in the last century anywhere in the country."
It's been a long and winding road to this point, and the journey isn't over yet. But through multiple iterations of plans – each becoming more realistic and achievable – BHA members and governors have helped move the Park forward. In 2006, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation adopted a General Project Plan (“GPP”) for the Park after one of the most comprehensive public planning endeavors the City has ever seen. Over ten years, hundreds, if not thousands, of residents participated in multiple public planning forums. While the GPP cannot possibly meet the needs and desires of everyone who participated, it includes a wonderful balance of active and passive recreation, unique access to the water, sustainable design and spectacular landscaping and views. It is already receiving rave reviews in the press.
The Challenge of a 'Self-Sustaining' Park
A founding requirement of the Park was that it be “self-sustaining,” meaning that enough revenues must be generated on the site to finance its maintenance and operating costs forever. While we had hoped that this could be accomplished without any development, the costs to maintain the pier structures and to keep the Park clean, attractive, lively and safe are high. The research leading up to the GPP indicated that residential and commercial development on only 10 percent of the land would generate the needed funds. The BHA reluctantly accepted the development plan, but has repeatedly asked government to create a transparent process by which the public can be satisfied that only the minimum amount of development needed to cover the Park’s costs will be built. We have also repeatedly called for the park land to be protected as such either by designation or conservation easement.
We applaud the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, as well as all our elected officials, past and present, who have seen this project through its ups and downs. We also applaud the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy (which we helped found as the Brooklyn Bridge Park Coalition) for its advocacy, free programming and stewardship.
The BHA Endorses NYC Control of the Park
Looking forward, significant issues remain. The Park's long-term governance structure is not in place, all the necessary construction funds have not yet been committed by government, and the real estate market currently is not conducive to moving ahead with the planned development parcels. The BHA endorses the City’s recent proposal to contribute more construction moneys and to assume control of the Park’s operations and maintenance. The open space should be permanently protected as parkland as soon as possible. The permanent governance structure should include community members and park user groups. Finally, we want to see this Park completed promptly. While we share a desire to limit the income-generating development to the smallest footprint necessary to fund the park, we do not want construction halted or even slowed. We want our Park now!
Get more info:
A broad summary of the BHA's positions on Park issues through the years can be found in this key document from 2005:
BHA Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Development of Brooklyn Bridge Park
For more on Brooklyn Bridge Park today, visit:
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp website
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy website & Winter 2010 Newsletter