Waterfront Park in Williamsburg To Remain Shuttered For Now

March 2, 2009 at 12:23 am 1 comment

A waterfront park in Williamsburg has been shuttered – and is being kept that way – by red tape, say frustrated residents and local advocates. A month and a half after state officials and community advocates agreed in principle to a deal to reopen East River State Park – at no expense to taxpayers – the park’s Kent Ave. gate remains locked. The sticking point has been a community group’s inability to meet a state requirement that it provide liability insurance for all park volunteers. “There’s been a lot of bureaucracy and red tape that gets in the way of doing this,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D-Williamsburg), who had called reopening the park a “done deal” last month. Hit with a $16.9 million budget cut, the state Parks Department decided last year to shut the park from January until April, aiming to save $40,000-$50,000 by getting rid of six seasonal workers. After an outcry from a neighborhood where green space is scarce, Lentol and Friends of East River State Park proposed a plan to keep the park open without the state workers. Cops from the local precinct would provide security, and community volunteers would keep the park clean. But Parks spokeswoman Eileen Larrabee said community groups had not yet been able to meet requirements for insurance and a satisfactory plan to keep the park clean and safe. “Before it is all resolved, it’s going to be a couple weeks before April,” said Michael Freedman-Schnapp, co-chairman of Neighbors Allied for Good Growth. Lentol said state Parks Commissioner Carol Ash told him the park would open March 1, but officials were noncommittal. “We’re hopeful, but there are still some issues that need to be worked out,” Larrabee said. “We will have lost two months, but at least we’ll have the warmest month,” he said. “I’m very disappointed that they couldn’t get it together sooner.” He said the commissioner assured him budget cuts would not force the park to close for the winter in future years. Meanwhile, would-be parkgoers are greeted by a locked gate. “You stand out there on a weekend day when it’s sunny, and there’s still people coming out thinking the park is open,” Freedman-Schnapp said.

BY Erin Durkin



Entry filed under: Brooklyn, Go Coastal, Public Waterfront. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Amy Cleary  |  March 3, 2009 at 9:33 pm


    /Community support, savings achieved through austerity measures and stabilized energy costs allow park to open month early/

    / /

    New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol today announced that East River State Park will reopen Sunday, March 1, one month earlier than scheduled. The park will be open from 9 a.m. until dusk.

    As a result of a number of cost-saving measures implemented by State Parks, stabilized energy costs, and a commitment of support and assistance from the community, the park will be reopening on March 1, rather than April 1. The park has been closed since Jan. 1 as part of austerity measures adopted by State Parks to address the state’s unprecedented economic crisis.

    “It is gratifying to see the community rallying around East River State Park in these difficult economic times,” Ash said. “I am thankful for the support of Assemblyman Lentol and the people of Williamsburg, for their continued efforts on behalf of the park.”

    “We are very happy that the community will have the use of this vital piece of open space throughout the month of March. We were glad that State Parks and local community groups like Friends of the State Park were willing to work with us to accomplish this and look forward to working with State Parks in the future to ensure that this kind park closing never happens again,” said Assemblyman Lentol.

    East River State Park is a seven-acre waterfront park located along the East River in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. It offers visitors a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline, and the green space provides many opportunities for recreation and relaxation.

    The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 178 state parks and 35 historic sites. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit http://www.nysparks.com .



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