‘TEST’ PARK IS B’KLYN’S BRIDGE TO $OMEWHERE
A small temporary park that offered a preview of one of the state’s most highly contested projects – the Brooklyn Bridge Park — was a surprise summer hit with 192,675 people visiting from around the world.
The 26,000-square-foot park at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Heights saw visitors from 440 different ZIP codes during a 13-week run that ended Sunday to make way for construction of the larger, 85-acre park project, according to data released yesterday.
The temporary park was a major draw for out-of-towners with 79 percent coming from outside the immediate area of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and DUMBO.
In fact, 25 percent of all visitors came from 52 different countries, and another 17 percent came from outside New York City.
“I think this will put an end to debate that Brooklyn Bridge Park is nothing but a fancy back yard for the rich,” said Mariana Koval, president of the waterfront park’s conservancy.
Koval was referring to criticism of a feature of the park plan – luxury high-rise condos to be built in the park to offset maintenance costs.
The temporary park featured a massive sandbox, sprinklers and games for children, wine and beer, food and spectacular New York Harbor views — including the temporary waterfalls display.
Despite having to rely on a shoestring $100,000 budget and donations to build it, the temporary park was even more popular than a floating barge that docked nearby last summer. The barge had 71,000 visitors during its nine-week run in 2007.
Koval said she expects more temporary recreation to be set up along the planned Brooklyn Bridge Park area next summer, including ball fields and another café offering liquor.
The first part of Brooklyn Bridge Park is set to open by the end of 2009.
Construction began in March after two decades of planning, even though there is currently only enough government funding – $231.1 million – to build about two-thirds of the park. The anticipated price tag is now up to about $400 million.
By RICH CALDER