Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bloomy’s Takeover Does Not Ensure A Real Brooklyn Bridge Park - Editorial

1 and done? Here’s the first piece of Brooklyn Bridge Park — an aerial shot of Pier 1 at the foot of Old Fulton Street (left). It’s ready to be played on, but it won’t open until, supposedly, this spring.

Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement that the city will take over the construction of the unbuilt portions of Brooklyn Bridge Park has changed very little for the Brooklynites who will use this supposedly public park, according to an editorial in The Brooklyn Paper.

Certainly, anything that moves construction of the waterfront development’s open space — and wrests control from the big-business-dominated Empire State Development Corporation — must be seen as positive.

But Mayor Bloomberg’s commitment of $55 million in construction funding — with more supposedly coming in the future — is paltry. And the “takeover” of the park is just a paper chase; instead of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, which is one of our state’s myriad public “authorities” that operate with little oversight, Mayor Bloomberg’s Brooklyn Bridge Park would also be overseen by a new public authority called “the Brooklyn Bridge Park Operating Entity.”

Lipstick, meet pig.

Most important, Bloomberg’s unwillingness to abandon the park development’s central flaw — that its annual maintenance budget must be financed through fees on commercial, residential, retail or dining operations inside the park’s footprint — shows that Brooklynites are still not getting what we have long dreamed about: a genuine park.

Sen. Daniel Squadron has put forth a reasonable tweak of the park’s self-financing scheme, namely, skimming off a bit of the newly hiked property taxes after non-residential buildings near the park flip to residential use.

But, for now, that financing scheme is still just a legislator’s proposal.

Bloomberg told a Brooklyn Paper reporter on Wednesday that for now, the plan still calls for housing and other revenue-producing entities inside the development rather than doing what we have long demanded: placing the 1.7-mile strip of green under control of the city Parks Department, which maintains parks the old-fashioned way — through the city budget process, where everyone from elected officials to watchdog groups to special interests get to fight it out.

Devoid of that public process, what we will get at Brooklyn Bridge Park is what we have decried for years: a public park that is not public at all, but an expensively landscaped front and back yard for the housing that will be built within it.

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