From The New York Shitty Inbox: Promise of a Park

April 21, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

notresspassing

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

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