Senator Daniel Squadron

New York State may use eminent domain to acquire land to build long-delayed park in Williamsburg

NY Daily News
May 12, 2016

After years of stalling on a park the city promised to build in Williamsburg, local pols are trying to get the state to swoop in and push things along.

A bill in the state legislature would let Empire State Development — controlled by Gov. Cuomo — use eminent domain to seize the land needed to build Bushwick Inlet Park.

The state would then hand over the property to the city — and could go after the city for the cost of the land.

Starting a year after the transfer, the agency could hit the city with $1 million in fines for every year it doesn’t build the park.

City officials pledged in 2005 to build the park as part of a deal to rezone the Williamsburg waterfront for luxury towers, but only a small sliver of it ever got done.

“The city made the clear promise more than a decade ago that is hasn’t kept. We’re asking the state to help ensure the city keeps the promise it made to the community for open space that the community desperately needs,” said Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn), who is sponsoring the eminent domain plan along with Assemblyman Joseph Lentol.

The legislation applies to the site of the former CitiStorage warehouse, which was decimated in a massive fire last year. It sits smack in the middle of the land the city would need to build the full park.

The de Blasio administration has bought up other parts of the site, but not put money in the budget to purchase CitiStorage.

Estimates of the value of the property have varied widely, from $60 million to $500 million.

The legislation passed a Senate committee this week. Fines collected by the state under the bill would go toward building or rehabbing parkland in the five boroughs.

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Photo by Andrew Schwartz

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