Still $125 million short of completion, Brooklyn Bridge Park’s developers are considering unusual self-financing options to finish the 20-year-old project (Gothamist got a tour, see pictures here). Over the years it’s appeared in bits and pieces: there are benches and tree-lined paths on Pier 1 by Old Fulton Street, and a big playground on Pier 6 near Atlantic Avenue. Still, the bulk of the work is unfinished, and just running the park costs $16 million annually. But will seeking private moneys turn the park into Disney World, or worse the private backyard of a condo? “When you talk more broadly about parks,” said Sen. Daniel L. Squadron, who represents the area, “I don’t think we have figured out how to make them self-sustaining.”
Already, in Bloomberg’s park loving administration, Fresh Kills, Governor’s Island and the High Line are struggling to find income, reports the NY Times. Brooklyn Bridge Park’s construction is covered by the city, but it will fund operations and maintenance through food sales and—controversially—through fees from One Brooklyn Bridge Park, the luxury development that abuts it. A hotel and three more developments are in the works.
Opponents say getting money from the apartments will result in less access for the public. “There is this accelerating notion that not just parks but many aspects of the public realm have to be self-financing,” said Michael Sorkin, professor of urban design at the City College of New York. “The paradox is that it’s always amounting to giving away some public good in order to realize some other public good.”
Because of the dour real estate market that concern is far in the future; so far One Brooklyn Bridge Park isn’t even fully occupied. But Regina Myer, president of the park’s development corporation, is optimistic that when the market rebounds, they’ll finally have the funds to finish the park. “We know that these sites will have incredible inherent value,” she said.