On Thursday March 12th at 1:00 p.m. there is an important rally on the steps of City Hall to demand that the City follow through on its open space commitments to the Williamsburg and Greenpoint community, and make the promised 28-acre Bushwick Inlet Park a reality.
It is incredibly important that the City hear from the Williamsburg and Greenpoint community that promises matter, and that Bushwick Inlet Park must be completed as promised. This is going to be a long battle (it already has been a long battle), but this next step is incredibly important. Yes, this is the middle of a workday, but please think about spending your lunch hour on Thursday March 12th rallying in support of open space for North Brooklyn!
If you are able to attend (and for more information about the rally), please sign up here. You can also RSVP to the Facebook event here. If you would like to meet NAG near the Bedford L stop at noon and travel to the rally together please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the backstory to this rally? Read on…
As many of you know, the 2005 rezoning was a watershed moment in the history of our community. Since 2005, hundreds of new developments have gone up throughout Williamsburg and Greenpoint, and thousands upon thousands of new residents have joined our community as a result.
When the City rezoned 184 blocks along our waterfront, it promised to develop new open space to mitigate the impact of 20,000 new residents in a community that already ranked among the lowest for per capita open space in the city. Bushwick Inlet Park was the centerpiece of the City’s open space commitment – a 28-acre waterfront park, straddling the border between Greenpoint and Williamsburg. In the 10 years since the rezoning, we have seen the opening of a soccer field and the green-roofed parks/community facility. Those developments are fantastic additions to our community, but they represent less than 15% of the park that the City committed to build a decade ago.
What’s going on with the other 85% of the park? Over the years, the City has acquired almost 18 acres – about 64% – of the future park. But no work has been done to develop this acreage as parkland, and before any park construction can begin, there will need to be considerable remediation work to undo the legacy of a century and a half of heavy industrial uses on the sites.
The last piece of the Bushwick Inlet Park puzzle – the piece the City hasn’t acquired, and has admitted that they have no plans to even negotiate for – is the CitiStorage site. This property – 6.25 acres, almost a quarter of the park area – sits right in the middle of Bushwick Inlet Park. It includes the full-block white-and-blue building immediately north of the soccer field, between North 10th and North 11th Streets. It also include the storage building at the west end of the block between North 11th and North 12th Streets that recently burned to the ground in a catastrophic fire.
Because of its location, Bushwick Inlet Park wouldn’t be a park without the CitiStorage site. The property is privately owned, and could be sold and developed for a variety of commercial uses, including big-box retail, offices and other non-residential uses that are very much viable in the booming Williamsburg/Greenpoint market. An owner could also propose to rezone the property for residential use. A tall residential tower with parkland surrounding might be an appealing compromise for the city, but not for us.
Bushwick Inlet Park is a massive and expensive undertaking, and the issues surrounding the acquisition of the last piece of the puzzle are complicated and arcane. But the core issue surrounding the park – the City’s commitment to Williamsburg and Greenpoint to provide a new park that will be “the centerpiece of the Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront” is actually pretty simple. In 2005 the City promised new development and new open space. The new development has happened – many of you are here because of it – but the City has not kept its promise regarding Bushwick Inlet Park. More disturbing, the City has admitted that it has no plans to acquire the last piece of Bushwick Inlet Park.
It’s time for the City to hear from the Community. If the City can’t keep its promises to North Brooklyn, why would any other community trust the City to keep its promises in future rezonings?