INTERACTIVE TIMELINE: CLICK ON THE ARROW TO THE RIGHT TO EXPLORE THE HISTORY OF BUSH TERMINAL PIERS' DEVELOPMENT
Credit: Nigel Chiwaya
SUNSET PARK — Construction on a much-needed green space and waterfront access in Sunset Park will be completed next month, officials said at a public meeting last week.
More than a decade after conversations began about rehabilitation and redevelopment of the Sunset Park waterfront, the end may finally be near after multiple delays in the last two years.
In the next six weeks, the city will wrap up construction on Bush Terminal Piers Park between 43rd and 51st streets, the city's Economic Development Corporation announced on its website.
The announcement provides a glimmer of hope for anxious community members who have long sought more parkland in the densely populated neighborhood.
”We will hope to hold them to that [timeline],” said Jeremy Laufer, district manager of Community Board 7, adding that the neighborhood has less than one-third of the city’s standard parkland per capita.
“I am very hopeful,” he said.
The final construction items include connecting permanent electrical and water service, street paving, installing park gates and signage and finalizing remediation of the park that was built above a brownfield site.
The park is the result of a multi-year planning process involving community engagement while addressing the area’s need for open space and its environmental concerns, said Ryan Chavez, infrastructure coordinator of UPROSE, a nonprofit for environmental justice.
But the long-awaited opening has not yet been scheduled. Once construction is complete, the city must seek approval from the State Department of Environmental Conservation “to ensure that the brownfield remediation is complete and that the site is safe for public access.”
“Once we receive approval from DEC, we will work with NYC Parks, who will operate and maintain the space moving forward and, together, schedule a ribbon-cutting,” the EDC said on its website.
In 2006, Mayor Michael Bloomberg allocated $36 million to the cleanup and redevelopment of Bush Terminal Piers, which was contaminated due to illegal dumping in the 1970s and classified as an inactive hazardous waste site.
The park is part of a “Sunset Park Vision Plan” from the city’s Economic Development Corporation that was first unveiled in 2009.
While the park will provide fields for soccer and baseball, viewing areas for a restored tidal pool and access to the Sunset Park waterfront, some features in the park’s original plan have been scrapped over the years, including a children’s playground, an environmental center and a second egress, CB7 said in a letter to the EDC dated June 7.
“This park will represent a significant addition of parkland in the community,” Laufer said.