Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents who've grown tired of waiting for the city to finish the promised 28-acre Bushwick Inlet Park took to the skies last night, using a tech projector to flash protest images across the Citi Storage facility that burned out in a 6-alarm fire last month.
Area residents were promised the park in 2005 as part of Mayor Bloomberg's rezoning of the waterfront, in an effort to placate those who were unhappy about the luxury condos set to invade their shores. A decade later, the majority of the park has not been built.
In 2011, city officials claimed they were unable to complete the park because they didn't have the funds necessary to purchase the 12 acres owned by the CitiStorage facility's proprietor. In December, the Times noted that residents were concerned the facility the "might be sold to a developer who could work out a deal to provide affordable housing in exchange for permission to build yet another [residential] tower."
Community activists are seizing this opportunity to act, and last night they projected a 30 foot tall ‘light graffiti’ message on the warehouse's burned-out remains, begging Mayor de Blasio and the city to finally finish the project. "The city seems to be hoping we won’t notice that they’re essentially trying to steal a 28 acre park from this community, Jens Rasmussen, who has lived in Greenpoint for 19 years, said in a statement earlier this week. “So we’re going to drag this issue into the light. Literally.”
Though the city has purchased two parcels of land for the project, residents will lose at least 11 acres if the CitiStorage land is not acquired. According to initial blueprints, this will cost the park its youth athletic field, a play area, a dog run and an area for nesting and roosting birds. Per the Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park website:
Our neighborhoods have long suffered on many health fronts. A 2006 paper stated that, “The two neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint have the highest concentration of garbage transfer stations in the city but little public access to their waterfronts. In all, Greenpoint and Williamsburg house two small power facilities, 23 waste transfer stations, a sewage treatment plant and Radiac, the city’s only radioactive waste storage facility. Greenpoint also suffers from the city’s highest asthma rates. Moreover, Brooklyn Borough has an Open Space Ratio of 1.47, lowest among the five Boroughs; while the Brooklyn Community District 1, where Williamsburg and Greenpoint reside, has an Open Space ratio of 0.63 that is much lower than the City’s (3.62) and the Borough’s average (1.47).”
And yet, we find ourselves here, ten years later, with the City having “no schedule for” finishing the park.
The recent CitiStorage fire has eliminated our ability to wait. This 11 acre property between N.10th and N.12th Streets, west of Kent is the essential core of the promised 28 acre Bushwick Inlet Park. The property can be sold for private development as of right (M31 commercial zoning) tomorrow. If it is sold and redeveloped, we lose the last possible open space on the Williamsburg waterfront. There will be an almost unbroken wall of towers from the Williamsburg Bridge to the Newtown Creek.
Activists are holding another rally outside City Hall on Thursday; protestors will gather at 1 p.m.