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Local Pols Demand Mayor Step Up on Promise of Bushwick Inlet Park

By Gwynne Hogan | March 1, 2016 4:29pm
 Friends of Bushwick Inlet park are rallying on Sunday in hopes of pressuring the city to finish building park space on the Williamsburg waterfront.
Friends of Bushwick Inlet park are rallying on Sunday in hopes of pressuring the city to finish building park space on the Williamsburg waterfront.
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Facebook/Friends of Bushwick Inlet/John Saponara

WILLIAMSBURG — Local elected officials demand a meeting with Mayor Bill de Blasio to discuss the city's promise to build a 30 acre park on the North Brooklyn waterfront.

Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg the city agreed to buy private land to build Bushwick Inlet Park in 2005 in exchange for the community's cooperation rezoning the area for high rise apartment buildings.

"The City promised to acquire the site from its owner for the new park. To date, that has not happened," the letter dated Feb. 19. signed by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Martin Dilan and Assemblyman Joe Lentol among others. "It was with the understanding that in exchange for the rezoning, the City would provide the community with a park.

"This was not a gift, it was a trade."

At issue is the contentious 11-acre site of the former CitiStorage facility that the city doesn't yet own and has no budget to acquire, according to a breakdown of the budget for Bushwick Inlet Park from the Parks Department.

That parcel is the middle of the promised parkland and is owned by Norman Brodsky who reportedly wants some sum in the ballpark of $250 million for it according to Crain's New York.

Now a coalition of U.S., state and local politicians who represent North Brooklyn are asking the mayor to outline his plan to buy that piece of property so the park can be completed. 

"We want to see real progress made — both on the lots the City has already acquired and a plan for acquiring the CitiStorage lot," said Maloney. "Whatever happens here sets a precedent."

"As discussions about upzoning other areas of the City move forward, those communities should be looking at whether the City fulfills its promise to residents of Greenpoint/Williamsburg by building the entire park we were promised.”

Parks spokesman Maeri Ferguson for said that the city has already invested $225 million to develop Bushwick Inlet Park — funds that have gone to complete a small section of the park on the southern tip that has a sport's field and community building with green roof and the purchase of three parcels of land.

Those funds also include another budgeted $72 million for the purchase of a fourth section and demolition at that site which should happen soon, according to Ferguson.

But the CitiStorage site was not included in those estimates.

Local park activist Steve Chesler with Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park who's been advocating for the completion of Bushwick Inlet Park since the massive fire consumed the CitiStorage building, said he was frustrated over what he said was the De Blasio's administration bias toward developers on issues like a street car and another zoning in for commercial development in Williamsburg, when he hasn't kept true to promises made to communities years earlier.

"The mayor continues to ignore Bushwick Inlet Park and the open space needs of Greenpoint and Williamsburg," Chesler said. "How many times do we have to say, 'Where is our park?'"

The mayor's office declined to comment.