Alternatives to Housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park – Two Public Meetings Being Held

Brooklyn Bridge Park Committee on Alternatives to Housing will be holding two meetings in the coming weeks offering an opportunity for the public to testify on “alternative sources of revenue that could finance operations of the park in lieu of revenues from the Pier 6 and John Street development sites.”

Dates & locations are:

Tuesday, November 30th 6-8 p.m.
Long Island College Hospital, 339 Hicks Street
Avram Conference Center, 1st floor

Thursday, December 9th, 6-8 p.m.
St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street
Founders Hall Auditorium, 1st floor

Previously at WSP Blog, I wrote about this park which borders the waters on Brooklyn’s side which separate Brooklyn and Manhattan:

Recently it was announced that BBP’s completion is behind schedule at least five years. Community activists are (again) pushing for “housing-free” Park. Presently, 1400 units of “luxury housing” are in New York State’s plans for the park. The Brooklyn Paper reports: “In the decades since community activists and local officials started planning Brooklyn Bridge Park, the proposal has changed from a sprawling public greenspace that would be part of the city’s regular park system to a state-built and-operated development whose open-space component would be maintained through fees charged to residents of luxury condos within the park’s footprint.”

More of the park has been completed since that was written in 2008 and part is now open. There was a controversy earlier this year over the really bad decision by the park management to install metal domes that turned out to burn children’s hands (and whatever other part of their bodies that touched it).

A letter from the Cobble Hill Association printed at Pardon Me for Asking Blog explains the issue further, illustrating the way parks are being used by the Bloomberg Administration and NY State to increase real estate values over quality of living:

Despite what some may think, these luxury high-rise towers are not needed to fund the park’s maintenance. There are many solutions to “pay” for park maintenance. When condos came into the park all year round recreation came out. Landscaping replaced the two pools, the indoor recreation center and ice rink that the community had worked so hard for decades to get. Landscaping sells condos while baseball fields do not.

More from the letter:

The city is still planning to build 5 more luxury condo and hotel towers inside the park’s borders (more…)

Stop the “Arborcidal Waterfalls:” The Latest on NYC Public Art

Waterfalls Left; Brooklyn Bridge; Dying Trees

Waterfalls Left; Brooklyn Bridge; Dying Trees

The Brooklyn Paper reports on the “NYC Waterfalls,” the Public Art project by Olafur Eliasson installed in four NYC river locations, which has become “arborcidal” (tree-killing) in Brooklyn Heights.

The Brooklyn Paper is always a bit over the top and yet it captures the essence of the situation. Arborcidal waterfalls…? Perfect. (The Villager has great reporting and articles but it’s, um, pret-ty serious. In Brooklyn, the weeklies have a bit of fun with it all. It’s also effective.) The problem is that the salt water from this nearby “public art” project is spraying its mist on the surrounding trees and causing them to decline. Residents and business owners are trying to get the project to end early – by Labor Day.

Sponsors The Public Art Fund turned to the NYC Parks Department for a solution (a “solution” which seems akin to the Parks Department watering the artificial turf to keep it from reaching scorching temperatures – at times, it can get twice as hot as regular grass – at 165 degrees instead of reconsidering the actual use of it). “Every morning, arborists from the Parks Department now rinse the trees and leaves along the Promenade and in the River Café’s garden with fresh water and flush salt from the soil,” the paper reports.

In looking into the Waterfalls a bit deeper, I experienced a revelation. Here, I was thinking Public Art was about Public. Art. until I read the press release and realized in Mayor Bloomberg’s New York, it, like everything else, is about the economy. The press release informs that The Economic Development Corporation (EDC), “estimates that the Waterfalls, funded with private support raised by the Public Art Fund, will contribute $55 million to the City’s economy.”

(How do you figure they figure that estimate out anyway?)

Isn’t the creativity and inspiration of people the main goal once in awhile? (Or… Not. At Washington Square Park, the aspects of the Park that inspire were slighted by the designer and NYC Parks Department in their redesign “plans.”)

I do appreciate the artist’s intention: “In developing The New York City Waterfalls, I have tried to work with today’s complex notion of public spaces,” said Eliasson. “… I hope to evoke experiences that are both individual and enhance a sense of collectivity.”

However, upon viewing from the F train, I agree with the Brooklyn Paper assessment: “in reality, the project’s scaffolding and weak water streams look more like a giant Erector Set from the borough’s shores.”

So… What do you think? What will win out? Saving trees or boosting (allegedly) the economy?

Currently, the project is set to run until October 13th.