For decades the public has used the 67 acre Four Sparrows Marsh in Mill Basin Brooklyn as public parkland for a variety of recreational purposes, both passive and active. The City's Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is proposing to seize 15 acres to expand a nearby retail shopping site. The property was transferred to Parks Department by the City of New York on March 3, 1994 and dedicated on October 29, 1997. The City is claiming because the Forever Wild nature preserve was never "mapped" it is not required to protect it. Many DPR properties, including playgrounds and natural areas are not mapped. Mapping is only one factor used to determine whether land can be legally protected under the Public Trust doctrine. Use is another. The proposed use is clearly a non-park use.
New York State Department of State has provided funding for the Forever Wild Program under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund.
Four Sparrows Marsh. (Photo: NYC Parks)
The Public Scoping Meeting for EDC's controversial Four Sparrow Marsh Retail Mall project has been rescheduled for Thursday, February 3rd. The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Kings Plaza Community Room, 5100 Kings Plaza (at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Avenue U). The January 11, meeting was postponed due to inclement weather. The public comment period has been extended until 5:00 PM on Monday, February 14, 2011.
The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, as lead agency, issued a Positive Declaration for the Four Sparrows Marsh Retail Center at Mill Basin project on December 10, 2010 and directed that a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) be prepared.
"To the east and south of the development parcel is Four Sparrows Marsh. This is also City-owned property," the Draft-Scope-of-Work document states. "Containing large areas of tidal wetlands and coastal habitat, the marsh is an undeveloped natural area. However, it is not mapped parkland. Therefore, one of the proposed actions is to map this area as public parkland which would protect, in perpetuity, these tidal wetlands and coastal habitats as natural areas under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). The project area to be mapped as parkland totals about 46 acres. A public trail proposed as part of the development component of the project would provide waterfront access for passive recreation."
The plan, first reported in Sheepshead Bites calls for a 110,000-square-foot Cadillac dealership to be built next to an existing Toys "R" Us store on Flatbush Avenue between The Belt Parkway and Avenue U. The new retail center would cover at least 127,000 square feet and build more than 400 parking spaces. The Project would be located just south of the toy store and encompass 15 acres on the northern end of the Four Sparrow Marsh.
Atlantic Yards Developer Forest City Ratner would oversee the project which they hope to break ground in 2014.
Speculation is also swirling that the controversial Walmart store currently being opposed for the Gateway II project near Jamaica Bay in East New York could be built here - Geoffrey Croft
Mapped Parkland Selling Point. One of the public relation angles the City is taking would map 46 acres (out of 67) of Four Sparrows Marsh as public parkland which would, in their words, "protect, in perpetuity, these tidal wetlands and coastal habitats as natural areas," under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department.
Mayor's Office Of Environmental Coordination
The Wall Street Journal - January 11, 2011- By Joseph De Avila
Sheepshead Bites - Jan 7, 2011 -By Marina Fridman-Rybner
EDC Looking To Seize 15 Acres Of Brooklyn Nature Preserve For Shopping Mall
A Walk In The Park - January 7, 2011