The Times today takes a look at the Brooklyn Bridge Park fight that's been brewing for a while now. A quick recap: Everybody basically agrees that an 85-acre park at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge is a wonderful idea. In 2002 the city and state agreed to pay up the $150 million that would be required to convert the land from Atlantic Avenue to Jay Street into usable parks. But as parks aren't cheap to maintain the question quickly rose as to how exactly to pay for the maintenance of the land. The solution that the city and state, along with the newly formed Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, agreed on was private real estate development. More specifically a hotel, a restaurant, some box stores and some residential units. About 1,200 "luxury" units to be exact (up from an initial estimate of 700 units).
And that's when the neighbors got pissed and sued the city and state to stop the whole thing. Both sides think the other is very, very wrong. Opponents are claiming that "'the park had been co-opted by the interests of real estate developers' and warning that 'for the very first time, private housing, parking and what might also be a private marina' were being planned inside a park." On the other hand
Supporters of the plan say that the critics would go to any lengths — even no park — to discourage people from driving into the neighborhood or traipsing through from subways and buses.
“The opposition is people who may have their views blocked, people who on principle oppose commercial development of any kind within the context of creation of a park, and people who may feel they agreed to the concept but now that they know what it is they oppose it,” said Adrian Benepe, the city’s parks commissioner. “Some of the opponents like the neighborhood the way it is and don’t want outsiders,” he continued.
Personally we find ourselves agreeing with Gordon Davis' take on the whole thing:
Spare me the philosophy. What’s the best way of getting it done? Every cultural institution in town seems to have danced with some developer. And when it comes to open space, I don’t have any problem if it’s designed well. Would it be better to have all the acres devoted solely to parks? Sure. But if you have to run something and don’t have a revenue stream, then you have a problem.
We'd much rather have another city park with a few buildings on the edges then no park at all. And really, considering the fact that almost all of the major city parks now have some commercial deal or another in order to maintain themselves, we just can't get too worried. Though we'd probably be bitching too if our views were going to get blocked...