North Brooklyn Calls for More Parks (NYC)

Brooklyn, NY, 11/13/04: The Brooklyn communities of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, led by the nonprofits Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning (GWAPP) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Parks and Open Space Subcommittee of the Community Board One Rezoning Task Force, call for more parks today. Hundreds of children wearing shirts with the message “We need more parks—don’t make me play in the streets,” will join the groups, City Council Member David Yassky, and State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol at an event at McCarren Park.

The Greenpoint/ Williamsburg Open Space Plan, released today, highlights the fact that these two north Brooklyn communities currently rank near the bottom of the list in open space per capita and calls for more parks and unbroken access to the two miles of waterfront. With only 0.6 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents (compared to the urban planning standard of 2.5 acres) 75 percent of residents are not being adequately served by parks.

“The youth population of Greenpoint/Williamsburg is burgeoning, even before the proposed rezoning,” said Joe Vance, co-chair of the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks & Planning. “The rezoning will increase our population by 25 percent. While we welcome the new parkland the city is proposing, we are so far behind the rest of the city in terms of parks, they must add more or we will remain behind and what land is available now will no longer be available for parks.”

“As part of the rezoning City Planning needs to assure the community that sites surrounding Barge Park that are controlled by the city and state in the future will become active open space for the youth of Greenpoint,” said Christine Holowacz, co-chair of GWAPP.

This part of Brooklyn, and the waterfront in particular, have been the focus of many proposals, including plans for a power plant, facilities for the 2012 Olympics, and extensive rezoning by the City of New York. The latter includes plans for a conversion of waterfront properties from manufacturing to mixed-use residential, meaning a transformed waterfront.

“Since the 19th century, residents of these neighborhoods have been cut off from the waterfront by shipping and manufacturing, and now by its abandoned vestiges. New businesses have cropped up that do not need the waterfront, but took advantage of depressed prices for manufacturing land in the city,” said Erik Kulleseid, director of the New York State Program of the Trust for Public Land. “We’re all for a better use of the waterfront and converting to residential uses. We just want to be sure that the waterfront is an amenity that provides a full spectrum of recreational activities to these neighborhoods, not just passive parkland.

“The city’s rezoning plan acknowledges the need for more parkland, including plans to add 43 acres of parks to these communities. The new open space plan calls for 29.5 acres on top of that, including significant access to the waterfront.

“The two things these neighborhoods need most are more housing and more parks. These two go hand in hand if we are going to have a livable community,” said City Council Member David Yassky.

In addition to TPL and GWAPP, the team that prepared the open space plan included Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates, project director; Fox and Fowle Architects, urban designer; and RG Roesch, landscape architect. The team hosted community workshops facilitated by planners and landscape architects to find out what was needed and desired.

“The greatest thing about this open space plan is that it is doable,” said Kulleseid. “After we learned what the community wanted, we applied the Trust for Public Land’s expertise in real estate and park development to determine what was also feasible.”

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.

To see the plan, click here.