Seven years after the city pledged three new waterfront parks with 33 acres of open space as part of a deal to allow condo towers along the Williamsburg waterfront, only one soccer field has opened, according to the New York Daily News.
Neighborhood residents and pols are fuming about the missing parks — and afraid that if nothing gets done by the end of the Bloomberg administration, it will never happen.
As financial and bureaucratic obstacles have delayed each of the parks, money from a fund set aside to pay for the projects has been used for unrelated parks projects — as well as a $24.5 million Parks Department headquarters building.
“It’s totally unacceptable,” said City Councilman Steve Levin (D-Williamsburg), who will grill city officials at a hearing Thursday. “The question to the Bloomberg administration is, ‘What are you going to do about it?’”
The city promised to build three parks — 28-acre Bushwick Inlet Park, Barge Park, and a park on Commercial St. in Greenpoint — as part of a 2005 waterfront rezoning to allow housing towers. Only a 7-acre chunk of Bushwick Inlet Park with a soccer field has opened.
“It’s taken forever and ever and ever,” said Ward Dennis, co-chair of Neighbors Allied for Good Growth. “We didn’t have enough parks in 2004...We’ve added thousands of new residents as a result of a really hot real estate market in a really hot neighborhood.”
At Bushwick Inlet Park — which would feature picnic grounds, a boat launch, a museum, volleyball courts, wetland preserves and a dog run — the cost of buying land shot up dramatically because the zoning changes increased property values.
The city had to shell out $95 million for the site where the soccer field is, and pledged about $80 million for another property owned by Bayside Fuel Oil.
Officials now say they have no money to buy the rest of the site.
At Barge Park, the city can’t move a sludge tank because they have not yet developed special barges needed to move sludge from an alternate site along Newtown Creek.
At Commercial St., officials have wrangled in a multiyear “comedy of errors,” Levin said, over relocating an MTA parking lot.
A deal to resolve the impasse fell apart when the Department of Transportation balked at letting MTA emergency vehicles park under the Williamsburg Bridge.
Meanwhile, the city stripped $14 million to build the park out of its capital budget.
City officials say they’re committed to the projects and are spending more than $300 million on Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
But many of the projects they’ve touted were unrelated to the zoning deal. About $3 million from a fund set aside to pay for the new parks has gone to renovations at McCarren Park and Rodney Park, as well as previously promised Transmitter Park.
The department is also building a $24.5 million headquarters building at the Bushwick Inlet site near the soccer field.
Residents are eager for more park space.
“Williamsburg is severly lacking in green space. We were trying to run along the river but this is the best we could do,” said Tessa Kelly, 27, who was jogging on the sidewalk along Kent Ave. “We're wondering when this might look like the waterfront across the river.”