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Brooklyn Bridge Park Opens New Section as Residents Continue Tower Fight

By Amy Zimmer | July 7, 2017 9:32am
 A 3.4-acre space at the Pier 5 uplands officially opened at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Thursday.
A 3.4-acre space at the Pier 5 uplands officially opened at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Thursday.
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DNAInfo/Amy Zimmer

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5 — with its soccer fields, Ample Hills Creamery stand and “picnic peninsula” where you can barbecue near the park’s hibachi-style grills — has a new addition including a serene grassy hill to sprawl out on.

Officials cut the ribbon Thursday for 3.4 acres of open space upland from the pier, which includes sloped lawns, a bench-lined path and a sound-attenuating berm to reduce the traffic noise from the nearby Brooklyn Queens Expressway. 

But residents are concerned that the contentious plans to build two more high-rises within the park’s boundaries on Pier 6 will create more noise, disrupting this summer’s enjoyment of the parts of the waterfront destination.

 Officials, including (left to right) Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, Brooklyn Bridge Park President Eric Landau and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new space at Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 5.
Officials, including (left to right) Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, Brooklyn Bridge Park President Eric Landau and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new space at Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 5.
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DNAInfo/Amy Zimmer

“The park is now 80 percent complete,” Brooklyn Bridge Park President Eric Landau said at the ribbon cutting.

Pier 3 is due to be finished next summer, he said, bringing a “large central lawn” to the park and more space for “passive recreation,” which will serve as a counterpoint to the ball fields, volleyball courts and playgrounds in other parts of the park.

Other remaining sections include the uplands of Pier 2 and the space under the Brooklyn Bridge, where the two-story Purchase Building was demolished to make way for a plaza that’s expected to not only better connect the DUMBO section of the park to the piers along Brooklyn Heights but also may have space for ice skating, seasonal markets or other programs.

These last two segments are still in the design phase, Landau noted.

Construction is expected to start on or about July 19 on the controversial 28- and 14-story towers planned for Pier 6 as residents in the Brooklyn Heights Association continue to fight these buildings through legal challenges.

The project, by RAL Development Services and Oliver’s Realty Group, would bring an additional 266 units, 100 of which would be set aside for “affordable” housing.

The park’s creation was predicated on including such projects to help it be self-sustaining, meaning that it had to generate its own revenue to cover operating and maintenance costs.

The Brooklyn Heights Association, however, contends that the park has enough funding because of other housing in it, like Pierhouse and One Brooklyn Bridge Park. Because of that, they don’t believe the park needs to take that space for more housing.

The group returns to court on July 18 — the day before construction is expected to start — and this week filed a temporary restraining order to prevent the construction from moving forward until the case is resolved.

Because the towers will rise on sandy soil so close to the East River, the developer filed plans for piles to be driven 90 feet into the bedrock, with 291 required for the taller tower and 123 piles for the shorter one, according to court papers from the association.

“That activity will generate unbearable noise for neighbors and park visitors alike; it threatens essentially to shut down the playgrounds and park areas at Pier 6 and adjacent sections of the park during the height of the summer visitor season,” the court filings for the temporary restraining order state.

Todd Castilow, a resident in the nearby One Brooklyn Bridge Park, testified in court papers that he measured the decibel level during the developer’s four test piles conducted in May. He found it reached over 100 decibels on the street near the site.

According to Steve Claridge’s How Loud is Too Loud: Decibel levels of common sounds, that is louder than a nightclub, and people should be exposed to such levels only for 15 minutes, court papers note.

The association contends that the loud noises are expected to occur for 20 to 30 minutes every hour and a half during the week from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. for two months.

“It will sound as if a particularly noisy subway train is taking 20-30 minutes to pass by, or a very loud rock concert is being held in 20-30 minute spurts from 7am – 4pm,” the court papers state.

Castilow's building, which sits between where the new towers will rise and the newly unveiled grassy knolls, may deflect some of the noise from the new spot, but residents fear the wildly popular playground on Pier 6 would not be spared.

Officials from the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, the nonprofit chartered by the city to oversee the park, declined to comment specifically on the construction noise concerns, but said the two towers were indeed needed for the park’s upkeep.

“The proposed development at Pier 6 will provide essential long-term funding for the park, as well as needed affordable housing and union construction jobs,” a Brooklyn Bridge Park spokeswoman Sarah Krauss said in a statement. “We look forward to presenting our case in the coming weeks."