"Fort Greene Park, BK" by cisc1970 is licensed with CC BY-NC 2.0
Apr 19, 2021
After multiple failed proposals, a new plan to renovate Fort Greene Park
Inside the still-somewhat-controversial proposed parks department plan to give Fort Greene Park a $24 million makeover
After years of deliberation, the New York City Parks and Recreation Department decided in 2020 that a proposed renovation of Fort Greene Park would be postponed until an environmental impact review was conducted. Now the park’s makeover is back on the table—and so are a few concerns.
On Friday, the parks department announced a $24 million plan to renovate Fort Greene Park that will maintain its original design but improve accessibility through the reconstruction of pathways and the creation of an entrance that beings the park into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The project—which will also include reconstruction of the two landings on the steps leading to the towering Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument—will fall under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Parks Without Borders initiative.
“We are committed to reimagining and restoring Fort Greene Park, and we’ve made sure that accessibility is at the forefront of the work we are doing,” said New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver in a statement.
Designed in 1868 by Prospect (and Central) Park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Fort Greene Park has actually been renovated three times in its history. This latest plan is a combination of two recent proposals that fizzled out due to environmental concerns, one of which included the destruction of 83 mature trees. The recently announced renovation will still result in the removal of mature trees, but also includes the planting of 200 new trees.
Silver added that “the expanded scope of this project will undergo review by an environmental engineer, and we are confident that we will be able to move forward with our plans for this park.” Specifically, the plans will go through an assessment in accordance with the city’s Environmental Quality Review regulations.
While the new plan appears to have made concessions, many activists share the same concerns they originally had when they sued the city in 2017, exposing that the parks department had lied about the health of trees set to be chopped down.
“Saplings take 20-to-30 years to provide the canopy that provides the same environmental benefits like air quality and shade,” Enid Braun, a local artist complained to the Brooklyn Paper. “What is dismaying is the lack of transparency here. It reflects the same high-handed approach that they did the last time.”
In addition to accessibility, the project is also set to include updated drainage systems to avoid erosion, redesigned plaza spaces, added lighting, and a special revamp of its Myrtle Avenue side.
City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo defended the project when speaking with BKReader, claiming that the improvements will “make Fort Greene Park a great community open space to be enjoyed for generations to come.” The construction process is expected to take one year, while it is uncertain whether the project will require any temporary closures.
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