Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Park Push Over Brooklyn-Queens Expressway

New park in South Williamsburg.
City Council member Diana Reyna is pushing to create two-acres of much-needed park space by covering up part of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway's (BQE) dreaded open-air trench part of which runs through the neighborhood between South 3rd and South 5th streets in South Williamburg. The BQE separated a vibrant neighborhood when it was built. (Image: Courtesy DLANDSTUDIO - Principal Susannah Drake)


There’s yet another huge cover up in the works for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

As city officials move forward with plans to fix the BQE “ditch” — a sunken, mile-long stretch bordering Hicks Street that separates Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill from the Columbia Street Waterfront District — City Councilwoman Diana Reyna is pushing a smaller, yet more ambitious, plan for the expressway in South Williamsburg, according to The Brooklyn Blog.

Reyna (D-Brooklyn) wants to bring two-acres of much-needed park space there by covering up part of the BQE’s dreaded open-air trench that runs through the neighborhood between South 3rd and South 5th streets. She and the nonprofit St. Nick’s Alliance commissioned landscape architect Susannah Drake to design a plan that caps the expressway with a baseball field, soccer field and tree-lined lawns.

Reyna is now in the process of trying to secure government funding and City Hall blessing for a project estimated at $85 million to $175 million.

South Williamsburg ranks at the bottom of the city in parkland and is among the tops in asthma rates. Reyna says the project would help solve these problems – as well as reconnect the North and South side neighborhoods of Williamsburg.

Axonometric of South Williamsburg.


“The kids who play there have to play by a six-lane highway,” said dlandstudio principal Susannah Drake. As for Southside Williamsburg’s existing park areas, Drake said, “They’re not well-equipped, they’re disconnected, and they’re often difficult to get to.” Drake and her team spent the better part of 2010 helping Councilwoman Reyna drum up support for the plan from community organizations and government agencies, relying on scientific evidence about noise and air pollution to gain public and private interest. The team is drawing upon several California studies that linked the proximity of major highways to asthma rates, and spurred state legislation prohibiting construction of schools within 150 feet of heavily trafficked arteries. According to dlandstudio, there are five public elementary schools and two junior high schools within the general vicinity of the proposed park area.

Read More:

The Brooklyn Blog - New York Post - January 25, 2010 - By Rich Calder

Capping a Brooklyn highway could mean greener, cleaner South Williamsburg
Architect's Newspaper - January 21, 2011 - By Jennifer K. Gorsche

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