By Dennis Holt
BROOKLYN — A symbolic fat lady sang this week in Brooklyn Bridge Park, probably from the observation hill at Pier 1.
The heart of the refrain was quite clear. The city will honor its promise to spend $55 million to build recreational amenities on Pier 2 and the John Street portion of the park. In effect, anchors away!
Other parts of the song involved news about a swimming pool for the next five summers, an ice and roller skating rink at the end of Pier 5, and there was a chorus about agreeing to revenue plans to pay for park operations.
The original plan called for three housing sites just inside park boundaries to pay for most of the park’s operations. This led to controversy by people opposing such housing. This, in turn, led to a new study to review revenue sources, which concluded that housing still had to be the major revenue source, but in recent weeks a new approach was agreed to be tried.
There will still be a hotel and some housing on Pier 1, as long planned. There will still be housing built at John Street in DUMBO, but the building will be about four stories less that the original plan.
The key to the third housing site, on Pier 6, depends on the possible sale of property owned by the Watchtower Society above Piers 1 and 2. In short, the more such property is sold, the smaller the housing needed at Pier 6 will be. In the unlikely event that the Watchtower manages to sell 1.5 million square feet of space, no housing will be needed at Pier 6.
To be able to plan rationally, a deadline of Jan. 1, 2014, has been established.
State Senator Daniel Squadron deserves to be congratulated for negotiating for the new park amenities, for lowering the John Street building, and for working out the Watchtower formula. The whole business was an adroit compromise that was needed in Washington, but there was no Tea Party in our park.
It is depressing to note that, according to published sources, some of the anti-park-housing hard liners are throwing cold water on the new plan and are even threatening legal action of some sort.
Their opinions are one thing; threatening legal action is ridiculous. And it is puzzling to understand how they can deny the overwhelming evidence of the study on revenue sources. With that evidence, it is easy to assume that if you oppose the money source, you oppose the park. What other conclusion is there to reach to reach?
With the exception of a few people, most everyone will salute the new plan and the genuine effort to reduce the amount of housing in the park. The park is going to add to its luster with what will be built next, and what will come in the future. Cheers to all!