When Michael Bloomberg leaves City Hall at the end of next year, his administration will have failed to deliver on a promise made to Williamsburg in 2005: that, in exchange for a developer-friendly rezoning of the waterfront that would bring thousands of new residents to the neighborhood, the community would get a new 28-acre park. Bushwick Inlet Park involves the acquisition of several parcels of land between N. 9th and N. 15th streets, but the city has only picked up half of them—and a year ago said it had run out of money to scoop up the rest. “We don’t have a bottomless pit of money — right now it’s just not possible to acquire property,” the assistant parks commissioner recently told the Brooklyn Paper. “The city has an obligation to its taxpayers.” Including those who live in Williamsburg!
Councilmember Steve Levin is skeptical of the city’s position. “I’ve noticed that when something is a priority of this administration, it gets done,” he told the paper. “It’s a question of priorities, and these parks are not priorities.” Unlike, say, the restoration and reopening of the McCarren Park Pool.
The failure to build the park falls on the city, which seems at best to have planned poorly. “Bloomberg officials originally valued one site on the southern edge of the [park] at about $12 million, but a judge ruled that the area’s residential rezoning meant its value was almost eight times higher,” the paper reports. “The city eventually settled with the property owner and bought the parcel for about $93 million.” Also, in 2007, $13 million of $14 million allocated for the park was taken by the city and spent on other projects.
At least one resident doesn’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. Jen Galatioto at the blog Greenpointers thinks the lots should stay as they are—wild. “I agree that we need more open spaces, but we also need more wild spaces. The actual inlet of Bushwick Inlet is a perfectly wild place that should stay that way and be protected from picnics, sod, hot pavement, gravel, park benches, lights and people,” she writes. “The best thing we can do on an industrial shoreline with high rises going up at an incredible rate is leave Bushwick Inlet… for the birds—literally.”