From The New York Shitty Inbox: Promise of a Park

April 21, 2009 by
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 


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 neighborhood’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 City’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 hasn’t been open to the public since it was, in the words of a Department of Design and Construction spokesperson, “substantially completed” 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 ‘No Trespassing’ signs.

The neighbors are getting restless.

“Before they started building, there was a community-made park there,” said Christine Holowacz, Co-Chair of the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks & Planning and a neighborhood resident for over 30 years. “It wasn’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.”

The park is one small piece of the larger Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront Access Plan, a hard-won component of the area’s 2005 rezoning. As such, its long-delayed, opening has resonated strongly with some community members.

“The city came and they made promises to us in 2005. They promised us a park there,” Ms. Holowacz said. “Now we have nothing – not our old park, not the new one – all because of some railing.”

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.

“We started on that this past summer,” he said. “It has been frustrating. More so for the community, I’m sure, particularly because you can stand behind the barriers and see the new park, but safety comes first.”

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. “In Greenpoint we’re surrounded by water, but we’ve never had real access to it, so we’re used to being close but far” she said. “I’ll celebrate when I’m sitting and enjoying my new park.”

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!

Miss Heather


6 Comments on From The New York Shitty Inbox: Promise of a Park

  1. superclam on Tue, 21st Apr 2009 6:28 pm
  2. I might be calling shenanigans on this. I’ve had railings installed on dozens of projects, for parapets and around areaways. The structural requirements are not complex and usually the railing fabricator submits shop drawings for the design.
    Sounds a little fishy.

  3. mbrooklyn on Tue, 21st Apr 2009 7:38 pm
  4. ok, i figured the park was never ever going to happen . BUT THE CITY SECTION IS FOLDING??? and all we have left are great big hulking empty spiritless neobuildings seemingly everywhere.

  5. graham on Tue, 21st Apr 2009 9:11 pm
  6. superclam: According to DDC, the railing needed to meet both road and maritime specs, but the first iteration only met one set of specs (I believe road, but don’t feel like going back to my notes to check). The new railing was fabricated to meet both.

    mbrooklyn: The observer has done two nice articles on the City section’s closing. One from March 30th:
    And another from April 20th:

    It was one of my favorite parts of the paper. Sad.

  7. SpillConspirator on Tue, 21st Apr 2009 9:58 pm
  8. It’s fishy that we’re starting to see action at this park after all this time… Just as the Parks Dept budget is getting slashed by what? 30%? Maybe the City’s throwing us some crumbs before they put a hold on the parkland promised in exchange for that rezoning. Folks should start calling the Mayors office and demand that the park promises NOT be slashed.

  9. superclam on Wed, 22nd Apr 2009 6:35 pm
  10. superclam: According to DDC, the railing needed to meet both road and maritime specs, but the first iteration only met one set of specs (I believe road, but don’t feel like going back to my notes to check). The new railing was fabricated to meet both.

    I’m betting maritime, since the DDC likely doesn’t deal with those too often. Still, a railing shouldn’t take that long to install, and we’ve had plenty of days above 40. I still call shenanigans!!

    […] Skyline from the tip of Greenpoint Image by bitchcakesny This is an awesome park on the northern most tip of Greenpoint that may or may not ever open. […]

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