Brooklyn Bridge Park won’t get its much-touted indoor soccer field because the city failed to attract developers for it — prompting locals to slam the city for deliberately bursting the recreational bubble, according to the Brooklyn Paper.
On Thursday, park officials quietly announced that they received no offers to develop the site — and wouldn’t continue seeking offers to construct and operate a seasonal facility on Pier 5, despite assurances from local pols that the winter-proof field would be up and running by the end of 2012.
“This was designed to fail,” said Roy Sloane, president of the Cobble Hill Association. “[Under city rules], developers would have to put in a lot of money, have it open only four months a year, and charge very reasonable prices. Did that sound like something the city was serious about?”
The facility — which would have been open from December to March — had no rest rooms or locker rooms, and the operator would pay for maintenance, operations and off-season storage.
The city vowed to spend up to $750,000 on construction, but the developer would be responsible for everything beyond that.
Regina Myer, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, said she was “tremendously disappointed” that no developers signed on, but would not elaborate on the bubble’s future.
The Pier 5 development was one of the less-controversial elements of the $350-million greenspace, which is required by a 2002 agreement between the city and the state to generate its own maintenance budget instead of draining taxpayer dollars.
Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park - proposed soccer field site. In August park officials announced that the enclosed recreational bubble with one soccer field would be open by the end of 2012. (Photo by Stefano Giovannini)
Funding for the bubble was secured in August, after state lawmakers reached a deal with Mayor Bloomberg to allow some luxury housing to fund the massive park’s $16-million annual upkeep.
State Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights) — who signed the agreement — said that the bubble is still viable.
“This is only the first round,” he said. “The park has an obligation to build this bubble, and I believe that commitment will be kept.”
But critics disagreed, calling the Pier 5 loss another example of how public facilities are taking a backseat to private development.
Indeed, much of the focus for the past year has been on how to fund the park, with city officials pushing for luxury high-rises as the main funding source — along with a 10-story hotel slated for Pier 1, just south of the park’s primary entrance at the foot of Old Fulton Street.
“This exposes the great lie of this deal — that this serves the residents of Brooklyn,” said Judi Francis, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund. “This park has been constructed as a development project for condos. Anything else has been an afterthought.”
Park officials began seeking a developer for the bubble at the end of August and set a Sept. 27 deadline for proposals.
On that day, Brooklyn Bridge Park staffers told the park’s community advisory council at a public meeting that they would open the proposals the next morning.
That was a lie; as it turned out, there weren’t any.
“This is a shame because we need a year-round facility — this is another hit for the park,” said Adam Meshberg, a member of the council. “We should reevaluate the size and design and make it more attractive.”
Park officials said they would move forward with Pier 5’s other attractions, including three multi-use artificial turf fields, a playground and a snack concession during warmer months.