Brooklyn Friends Group Challenges Mayor to Keep Full Decades-Old Park Promise — New Press Campaign With Letter From All Local Elected Officials
Steve Chesler, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park
Brooklyn, NY – May 24, 2021 Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, the formidable advocacy group who won a legendary “David and Goliath” battle to complete the acquisition of the 27-acre park, is once again holding the City’s feet to the fire. This time the group is launching its latest press campaign with two new videos and a letter to Mayor de Blasio signed by all of Greenpoint-Williamsburg’s elected officials, and rallying to demand the City include the park in its annual capital budget. While he remarkably and historically saved a large endangered section of the park and budgeted the development of two other smaller parcels, frustrated citizens of all ages and walks of life tell the Mayor – it’s time to complete the entire park that was promised to them almost 2 decades since the City rezoned their North Brooklyn East River waterfront from industrial to high density residential in 2005.
The heart of the Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park’s campaign is the way neighborhood residents are feeling squeezed. The February 2021 Department of City Planning brief reports that since 2010 the highest concentration of housing growth in New York City is in Greenpoint-Williamsburg. The 2005 rezoning has also resulted in overcrowded subways, buses, streets, sidewalks and schools and has given the campaign added urgency. According to New Yorkers for Parks Greenpoint-Williamsburg remains one of the most open space-starved neighborhoods in the City but less than 20% of Bushwick Inlet Park is actually open to the public. Although the Park’s 50 Kent parcel is currently under construction and the Motiva site is not far behind, two thirds of the Park is still completely unfunded with no timetable for demolition, remediation and completion. All the while our neighborhood’s open space ratio remains stuck at .6 acres of open space per 1,000 residents while the city average is 1.8 acres.
Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park is calling on the City to keep their “Park Promise” by including funding in the fiscal year ’22 budget for the demolition of the massive CitiStorage building purchased five years ago which still sits in the middle of the park and for the badly needed turf replacement at 86 Kent’s soccer field. The parks group is also calling on City Hall, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the City Council to collaborate on a capital plan that fully funds the remaining remediation, design, and construction of the CitiStorage and Bayside parcels as part of the 2022 Financial Plan that will be released later this year. The Friends group’s new campaign is a clarion call to the City that North Brooklyn has been left waiting in the cold far too long. The tremendous challenges of the past year have made it abundantly clear that parks are critical infrastructure. The moment is now to secure long-term funding for Bushwick Inlet Park.