India Street Revisited
Today I received a very interesting email from an India Street resident who calls himself The Ghost of Willie the Barber regarding my post about the proposed India Street Park. He writes:
The actual India Street community (that is, people who live here) already had a plan for this park that would have restored the pier and made a real park. This was part of an intensive series of open-forum meetings (part of something called a “197-A” plan) that the city pretty much ignored when they put together the Big Rezoning a couple of years ago.
The City ‘s rezoning plan (which IMHO involved a lot of selling-out on the part of some community activists in league with Council member David Yassky –who, like all NYC politicos, gets most of his campaign money from real estate interests-) basically puts the whole project in the hands of the private owners of the waterfront properties.
This results in the kind of compromised idiotic crap you quite accurately reported on last week. Even if the officials like the Parks Dept. guy at that meeting- WANT to do something serious, they have no real budget – seeing as how any REAL park would need many times the amount of money available- because the street ends in concrete-hanging-over-river and would have to be demolished and re-built. Only developers have that kind of money and the rezoning actually gives developers the last word on when and how such supposedly “public” work can take place.
It is a cruel joke.
Here was part of what the community wanted to do:
THE FRIENDS OF INDIA STREET PIER is a group dedicated to the pier its members “adopted” for the benefit of the Greenpoint community. Although heavily deteriorated, the India Street pier was a popular summer refuge for many residents of North Brooklyn, who spent weekends there sunbathing, fishing, or simply enjoying the Manhattan skyline. But a near catastrophe in which seven Greenpoint residents atop the pier fell into the East River along with the pier when it collapsed in May, 1997 brought additional attention and a sense of urgency to the efforts of the Friends to speed repair of the popular pier.
According to “Willie the Barber,” President of the Friends of India Street Pier, the group envisions a “New India Street Pier” with new pilings to strengthen it and make safer, a 4′ fence on the rear half, tables, benches, and shrubbery that would provide a park-like atmosphere, a food stand that would pay rent to the city, and possibly a water fountain.
The pier would become a nice place for fishing, sunbathing and picnicking. The location offers a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline and the ships on the East River. Recommendations for the New India street pier are an integral part of the Greenpoint 197-a Plan (see section on Waterfront Access).
T.G.O.W.B., India Street
North Brooklyn Greens
So there have you folks. The interests of our community were sold to the developers a long, long time ago. Not that this should come as a big surprise. It doesn’t to me, anyway. Nonetheless, it never ceases to anger yours truly.
Mark my words: if/when the developers decide to step up to the plate and provide park space it will not be out of the kindness of their hearts. It will be in exchange for discretionary zoning. The current limit is 24 stories. Under discretionary zoning they can build up to 40. In the meantime we can anticipate more concrete walls.