SUNSET PARK — Sunset Park’s new waterfront park, which features multipurpose sports fields and sweeping views of the city, officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
Bush Terminal Park extends from 44th to 50th streets along the edge of Sunset Park, with a single entrance on 43rd Street near First Avenue. It offers a nature preserve, a bicycle path, two synthetic baseball and soccer fields that are open throughout the year, two saltwater tidal ponds and a natural habitat area.
Elected officials and park advocates hosted Wednesday's opening ceremony, following years of delays and more than a decade of talks surrounding the rehabilitation, design and construction of the new public space.
Maya Funaro, who has lived in the neighborhood for 14 years, visited the park for the first time on Wednesday with her toddler. She said she wished Bush Terminal had a playground for children, a facility that was scrapped from the park’s design.
However, she enjoyed having access to the waterfront and said she would probably bring visitors to see the park.
“I love being near the water,” Funaro said.
But some local residents couldn't wait to celebrate their new waterfront park, which opened last week.
About 50 people from Sunset Park and around Brooklyn attended an impromptu opening ceremony last weekend, without politicians or officials from city agencies.
"We felt this was our celebration," said neighborhood activist Tony Giordano, who has been advocating for the park since the early 90s.
The park’s site is a former brownfield, which was once exposed to hazardous pollutants.
Strong advocacy over the years from the nonprofit UPROSE, local residents and Community Board 7 resulted in the site’s remediation and plans for the park, said Ryan Chavez, an infrastructure coordinator for UPROSE, who called the space's completion an "environmental justice victory."
The new park will assist in “alleviating the environmental, public health and recreational needs of the community,” he said during the ceremony.
Bush Terminal will also ease some of the overcrowding at Sunset Park, the neighborhood’s smaller public park, said María Roca, a longtime resident and founder of Friends of Sunset Park.
“That little park works very hard for everybody,” she said. “Here is an opportunity for people to be able to walk down and spend the day.”