Williamsburg Community Demands Open Space Promised by City in 2005
WILLIAMSBURG — Frustrated neighbors and local leaders are demanding more than 30 acres of open waterfront space — seven years after the city pledged the park land when it rezoned Williamsburg for residential use.
"We're serious about them delivering on their promise," said Laura Treciokas, co-chairwoman of the community group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, which has been working in conjunction with other local organizations to push for the park's realization north of North Ninth Street by the East River.
"I have a 1-year-old, and we’re avid users of park space. There's not a lot of it — it's tough — and what exists is very crowded," said Treciokas, who lives in Greenpoint. "As our community expands it's important for us to come together."
Treciokas and other residents, along with state Sen. Daniel Squadron, Williamsburg Councilman Stephen Levin, and Brooklyn Assemblyman Joseph Lentol plan to rally on City Hall's steps June 14 before a hearing about the status of the open-space project.
The Parks Department maintained that they had devoted significant money and time into work in the area, and that they would follow through on the project.
"With extensive community input and public review throughout the planning process, the city is making an historic investment (the largest in any Community Board district) in the creation, improvement and expansion of parks in Greenpoint and Williamsburg," a Parks spokeswoman said. "Despite obstacles, including unanticipated environmental remediation at some sites and overall cost escalation, the city remains committed to expanding open space."
She noted that the city had committed more than $300 million to the Williamsburg Community Board 1 district, which amounted to 25 percent of the Parks Department's capital budget plan for Brooklyn.
But Treciokas said the city's delay in the park project — a soccer field at North Ninth Street is the only part of the usable space — was a disappointment.
"I feel like the city has let us down," she said, calling the field a "tiny fraction" of the promised land.
"The rezoning brought new residents, which we welcome, but we also need things like parks and open spaces to help cope with that," said Treciokas of the 2005 deal, which has allowed for the rapid development of Williamsburg, to some residents' dismay.
Levin said the waterfront space was vital to the neighborhood.
"The community deserves the parks that we were promised in 2005 and I will continue to fight for a solution," he said, "and hold this administration accountable for its failure to build out Bushwick Inlet Park."
Squadron, who also spoke out at a March hearing urging the park's development, challenged the city to deliver on its promise.
"At this juncture, seven years later, the 2005 city rezoning has brought thousands of new residents to Greenpoint and Williamsburg. But where is the promised waterfront park?" Squadron said. "The city’s promise to provide historically underserved North Brooklyn with this essential park is even more important today, with the residents I represent more in need of open space than ever."
The hearing will be held Thursday, June 14 at 1 p.m. at City Hall, and the rally beforehand at noon.