Volume 16 • Issue 41 | March 12 - 18, 2004

A park to grow under the Brooklyn Bridge

By Janel Bladow

A look at the Brooklyn Bridge plaza that is expected to be renovated this year and reopen in November.

The next phase of bringing beauty to the beastly spaces beneath the Brooklyn Bridge breezed through a Community Board 1 committee meeting on Tuesday, March 9. The Seaport/Civic Center Committee approved a Parks Department design proposal for Brooklyn Bridge Park with one proviso – that it’s clearly spelled out who will maintain the new recreation area.

The red brick plaza in question is bordered by Frankfort Street to the south, Pearl Street on the east, Park Row to the west and Police Headquarters Plaza on the north. The site is about 120,000 square feet and intersected by Rose St. Overhead are approach ramps and the west arches of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The plaza is currently used by skateboarders and police and other city workers to park their cars.

The project will clean up the area, remove dead tree stumps, repair existing pavements and add greenery, sports courts and seating areas.

“Essentially it’s the same footprint,” said Marc Donnenfeld, the committee’s chairperson. “But it will be updated, enhanced and made user-friendly.”

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. will cover costs of renovating the 2.75 acre park. Brooklyn Bridge Park renovations are included in the $24.6 million allocated for Lower Manhattan parks and open spaces by the L.M.D.C.

“The renovation allows skateboarders continued use of the long, narrow brick strip,” Michael Bolger, the Parks Dept.’s team leader for Manhattan capital projects, said during his presentation. “But it also opens the park up for many more people. We expect to begin construction in April or May.”

The new park will feature two seating areas north of Rose St. One is a cul-de-sac screened by stone and surrounded by benches under trees along the bridge. The other is a cul-de-sac of ornamental grasses and benches under trees along a vehicular ramp. Both will be edged with greenery.

Green turf-style synthetic carpet will cover an 80-foot by 20-foot activity area. A 5-foot circle in part of the synthetic turf will have a ying-yang symbol where residents can practice tai chi.

Along the north end will be Ping Pong tables and courts for volleyball and basketball.

Tetherball areas line the opposite side of the park.

While the existing water fountains will be refurbished, there are no plans to install toilet facilities. Installing plumbing and toilet fixtures would cost more than refurbishing the whole park, said Bolger.

A dog run could be included, along the bridge north of Rose St., but it isn’t in the current plan, according to a Parks Dept. spokesperson.

Bolger said that Brooklyn Bridge Park should be done by November, about the same time that the L.M.D.C. and Parks expects to finish just about all of the 13 park projects in Lower Manhattan.

Committee members expressed concern over park upkeep. The property is part of the Department of Transportation but is being built by Parks with L.M.D.C. funds. It was not clear who would be in charge of maintenance. The committee voted that be spelled out as part of the proposal before it goes before the full community board March 16.

Meanwhile, L.M.D.C. is now studying possible ways to renovate and use the bricked up arches under the Brooklyn Bridge. A proposal will be presented at a future committee meeting.


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