While battle-weary north Brooklyn residents continue to demand the 28-acre Bushwick Inlet Park that former-mayor Michael Bloomberg promised them over a decade ago, another faction is making the case that the Bayside Oil Depot could be renovated rather than demolished, and converted into a studio, performance and manufacturing compound for the types of small business owners and artists who identify as "artisanal" and don't cringe at the word "maker."
So-called Maker Park is the brainchild of a developer with Kushner Companies (run by Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner), an advertiser, and the events coordinator for the Municipal Art Society of New York, a longstanding nonprofit that promotes quality of life along with environmental preservation.
Stacey Anderson of MAS unveiled the concept last fall, peppering her speech with words like "activate" and "eclectic," and phrases like "industrial fabric" and "creative renaissance."
"We envision a park that reflects the creative ethos of the surrounding neighborhood and draws upon the rich legacy of making and collaboration," she said, adding that the 50-foot iron fuel containers are "reminiscent of the works of Richard Serra," and could provide "incredible acoustics" for performances.
The Maker Park website fawns over all of the remaining industrial structures in Bushwick Inlet on its website, celebrating the "beautiful and otherworldly industrial topography" that they imagine integrated into the green space.
"The empty fuel containers could be activated as viewing platforms, performances spaces, rotating sound and art exhibitions, or greenhouses, to name just a few ideas," the group predicts.
But Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, which has been advocating for a 28-acre green space unbroken by development, says the alternative proposal goes against what they’ve been fighting for.
"The whole idea is really out of context with the plan for the neighborhood that was established through the rezoning, which was to create 28 acres of pure open space to mitigate all the buildings and the population spike that's ongoing [in the neighborhood]," said Friends co-chair Steve Chesler on Tuesday. "Having about a dozen well tanks and two buildings on the land would basically take away a quarter of the proposed park land."
While Maker Park has stressed that "the next stage will be to engage with the community for input on this vision," the NY Times reports that a group of developers has already been brought on board, including architect Jay Valgora who's also working on this glowing retail paradise in DUMBO.
But the optimistic pro-maker team definitely isn't getting any early endorsements from the Parks Department, which is planning to demolish the Bayside site in order to remediate it for future park use.
"The necessity of environmental remediation on this post-industrial site requires the demolition of the existing buildings and contaminated tanks on the Bayside site," said a Parks spokeswoman in a statement Monday. "Parks met with representatives of the Maker Park group in September 2015 and explained that the presence of the buildings and other infrastructure on the Bayside site has hindered efforts to complete testing of potential underground contamination, and the structures need to be demolished to ensure the property is safe for recreational use."
[UPDATE 6/10:] The Maker Park team issued the following statement:
Our vision for Maker Park is an alternative design for 7 acres of the 28-acre proposed Bushwick Inlet Park. Rather than demolish the historic and endangered industrial fabric on the site, we envision preserving and adaptively re-using it, incorporating it into the design of the whole park. We imagine a public park that embraces this neighborhood's history, and marries it with the community's contemporary culture of collaboration and making through these structures. We're excited to bring this new idea into the conversation, and look forward to making it a reality.