From The New York Shitty Inbox: Promise of a Park
On April 12, 2009 I wrote (in this post about the park languishing at the end of Manhattan Avenue):
Anyone care to guess when this park will at long last be open to the public? If anyone reading this post knows the answer please speak up via comments or email me at:
missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot) com
Today someone has stepped up to the plate. Graham writes:
In addition to being a Greenpoint resident, a regular reader and a big fan, I used to freelance for the soon-to-be-shuttered NY Times City Section. (! — Ed. Note) Last fall, I wrote a story about the Manhattan Avenue Waterfront Park in Greenpoint that they decided to hold until spring. Well, since it will never see the Grey Lady’s ink, I thought I’d offer it to you and your readers. Enjoy.
The Promise of a Park
By Graham T. Beck
At the Northern end of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, past the bustling Polish butcher shops and the hip cafes with sandwich-board signs out front, the neighborhoodâ€™s main drag dead-ends in a vest-pocket park that sits on the shore of the Newtown Creek.
There are four north-facing benches positioned for dramatic views of the Queensboro Bridge and Long Island Cityâ€™s skyline. River breezes tousle the decorative grasses and blow loose bits of mulch across the newly installed granite pavers. Empty trash bags whip about in their shiny black cans.
There is, however, no one in the park. It hasnâ€™t been open to the public since it was, in the words of a Department of Design and Construction spokesperson, â€œsubstantially completedâ€ in the summer of 2007.
The installation of a railing is to blame, one that would separate the park from the creek. So for more than a year, Greenpoint residents have been barred from their new park by black plastic fencing, jersey barriers and â€˜No Trespassingâ€™ signs.
The neighbors are getting restless.
â€œBefore they started building, there was a community-made park there,â€ said Christine Holowacz, Co-Chair of the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks & Planning and a neighborhood resident for over 30 years. â€œIt wasnâ€™t much, just a dock, but people went there to fish, to boat, to lunch. It was the area to go, the only place where you could really see the water.â€
The park is one small piece of the larger Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront Access Plan, a hard-won component of the areaâ€™s 2005 rezoning. As such, its long-delayed, opening has resonated strongly with some community members.
â€œThe city came and they made promises to us in 2005. They promised us a park there,â€ Ms. Holowacz said. â€œNow we have nothing – not our old park, not the new one – all because of some railing.â€
According to Matthew Monahan, of the Department of Design and Construction, the original specifications for the railing were not in full compliance with safety and transportation regulations, so the agency had to go back to the drawing board, then have an appropriate railing fabricated.
â€œWe started on that this past summer,â€ he said. â€œIt has been frustrating. More so for the community, Iâ€™m sure, particularly because you can stand behind the barriers and see the new park, but safety comes first.â€
According to Mr. Monahan, the railing should arrive soon, and if the weather is above freezing long enough for workers to grout, it will be installed shortly.
Ms. Holowacz is skeptical. â€œIn Greenpoint weâ€™re surrounded by water, but weâ€™ve never had real access to it, so weâ€™re used to being close but farâ€ she said. â€œIâ€™ll celebrate when Iâ€™m sitting and enjoying my new park.â€
So there have you. The first fence was not built up-to-spec. This has since been addressed. If/when will this park open to the public? Well, no one seems to know. I for one agree with Ms. Holwacz: I’ll believe this park’s for real when my ass is firmly planted on one of those futuristic park benches!