Part of ‘Park’ will open next year
Decades of planning will finally culminate in a small, but usable, Brooklyn Bridge Park by the end of 2009 — but state planners admitted on Monday that they don’t know when the rest of the 85-acre open space and condo development will be complete, thanks to a lack of public funding.
The 1.3-mile strip of open space from Pier 1 to Pier 6 along the Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO waterfront was budgeted to cost $150 million in 2002 — but that figure has soared to well over $300 million today, yet only $225 million has been allocated by the state and city. As a result, the state-run Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation now says it will finish two-thirds of the project by 2012.
Despite the setback, Regina Myer, the BBPDC president said, “We’re thrilled — the park is really getting built.”
Myer said the two portions of the park that will be completed by the end of 2009 are part of Pier 6, at the foot of Atlantic Avenue, and almost all of Pier 1, just south of the Fulton Ferry landing and the Brooklyn Bridge, where a temporary viewing area allows tourists to check out the “New York City Waterfalls” installation.
By the end of next year, most of the rolling lawns of Pier 1 will be built, as will the “grand” entrances at Atlantic Avenue and Old Fulton Street, and a playground, a volleyball beach, dog run and concession stand on Pier 6 and its nearby uplands, Myer said.
A beach planned for Pier 4 and landscaped areas near Pier 2 will be finished in 2011, and in 2012, ballfields and courts, and a barbecuing area will be open on Pier 5.
Construction of a third of the park has been postponed until additional public money can be secured.
The gap of at least $75 million has plunged Piers 2 and 3 into limbo. This portion of the park would be terrain for basketball courts, in-line skating area, tether ball, passive meadows, and, in the water around the docks, safe kayaking areas. A marina and the other calm water area is in doubt also because state conservation officials have not signed off on attenuators that are necessary to smooth out any waves or tidal activity in the East River. The attenuators may negatively affect aquatic life.
The state also needs more money to finish Pier 6 and to acquire land from Con Edison on John Street in DUMBO to extend the park past the Manhattan Bridge.
Myer, who took over the BBPDC about eight months ago, revealed the construction schedule at a meeting of the park’s directors on Monday morning and told The Brooklyn Paper that she was emphasizing public spaces over the residential development of 1,200 units of housing inside the park that is also part of the plan.
“Park construction must precede residential development,” she said.
But housing and commercial development inside the park’s footprint are an essential part of the unusual financing scheme to maintain the park. Instead of paying property taxes, condo residents and business owners will pay annual fees to cover what was roughly expected to be $15 million in operating costs.
That $15 million is probably not sufficient, Myer admitted, but added, “I don’t anticipate a huge increase.”
Faced with a gap between its revenue and operating costs, park officials might have to decide between increasing private development inside Brooklyn Bridge Park or permitting it to fall into disrepair — both unappealing options.
The public was set to get a first look at Myer’s latest timetable at a meeting on Monday night. The Brooklyn Paper will update the story on Tuesday.
By Mike McLaughlin