Brooklyn Rezoning Includes More Parks (NYC)

Brooklyn, NY, May 11, 2005 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and its partner, the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning (GWAPP), today expressed their support for the rezoning legislation passed by the New York City Council on May 11. “GWAPP applauds Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council for making critical changes necessary to ensure the rezoning better meets the open space and recreational needs of north Brooklyn,” said Joe Vance, GWAPP’s co-chair.

“This is a great victory for parks,” said Erik Kulleseid, New York State Program director for TPL. “The Trust for Public Land is pleased to have joined forces with the Greenpoint and Williamsburg communities to get more green in the rezoning.”

In eleventh hour negotiations between the mayor’s office and the City Council’s Land Use Committee, under pressure from Council Members David Yassky and Diana Reyna, the rezoning proposal was amended to include several additional important open space measures called for by GWAPP, TPL, the Rezoning Task Force of Community Board One and other groups. Specifically, those measures include:

1. An additional three acres of active use parkland will be created on Commercial Street in north Greenpoint by moving an MTA bus parking lot off the waterfront;

2. The existing Barge Park Playground will be expanded by two acres onto an adjacent city-owned parcel, (bringing the total new parkland under the rezoning to 54 acres);

3. The city will move to establish a continuous public access route along the waterfront, using on-street links if necessary, in an explicit acknowledgement that gaps will persist in the waterfront shorewalk for years, depending on the pace of private development.

4. The city will negotiate to take over management and operation of the waterfront shorewalk, in an effort to ensure consistent management and public access. In addition, a $10 million dollar fund is being created to encourage that the shorewalk be built sooner than it is otherwised required to be, with property owners drawing on the fund required to turn title to the finished shorewalk over to the city.

5. The city will explore de-mapping Driggs Street or Lorimer Street in McCarren Park in order to expand parkland there.

The first three measures were identified and called for in the Greenpoint/Williamsburg Open Space Plan that TPL, GWAPP, and the Rezoning Task Force developed in conjunction with individual residents and local groups over an eighteen-month period and released last fall. (For a copy, visit or contact

assage of the rezoning marks a historic shift in the evolution of the north Brooklyn communities of Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Developed originally as shipping and manufacturing centers, these working class communities had watched helplessly as industry declined and the waterfront was abandoned or, worse, converted to noxious uses such as waste transfer stations or proposed for power plants. Over 160,000 people live in north Brooklyn, but only one small plaza at the end of Grand Street provides any public access to the East River.

The communities’ fortunes began to shift in the late 1990s when the residents organized successfully against a waterfront waste transfer proposal on the former Eastern District Terminal and a power plant proposal for the former Greenpoint Terminal Market. Those successes were followed in 2000 by TPL’s acquisition of a portion of the Eastern District Terminal and later conveyance of that parcel to the state parks department as protected parkland. With the election of Mayor Bloomberg, the rezoning proposal took form as part of his initiative to create more housing in the city. With their proximity to Manhattan, Greenpoint and Williamsburg were easily identifiable targets for residential development.

The Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks & Planning (GWAPP) is a community based not-for-profit group comprised of community organizations, religious institutions, and concerned citizens from the Greenpoint-Williamsburg communities dedicated to the development of parks and public access on the Greenpoint waterfront. Building upon its successful defeat of a power plant on the East River, GWAPP is also dedicated to assisting the community in promoting and monitoring any development that impacts the Greenpoint waterfront.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.9 million acres of land. To date, the Trust for Public Land has created, expanded, protected, or supported more than 250 parks, gardens, and natural areas in New York City.