Greenpoint Gazette

Building a Park at the End of India Street

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With the surge of interest in Brooklyn’s waterfront, attention is now turned to the northernmost point of the borough. The Greenpoint Waterfront Associate for Parks & Planning (GWAPP), Open Space Alliance of North Brooklyn (OSA) and the New York City Parks Department invited Greenpointers last Tuesday at the Greenpoint Coffee House to discuss the future of the end of India Street.

In their efforts to create more park space in Greenpoint, GWAPP set their eyes on the East River’s edge on India Street. Thanks to the Kaplan Foundation and GWAPP’s own fundraising efforts, GWAPP procured enough money to conduct a study in order to see if the pier at India Street could be saved and used as a park.

Development is already rampant along the edge of Brooklyn with developers creating mixed-housing and retail space. They are also offered incentives to make waterfront esplanades that are accessible to the public. So far, Stephanie Thayer of OSA said 4 out of the 6 developers already agreed to these terms.

Because of this incentive, there was no need to GWAPP’s study. It was then decided that they would instead build an interim community park. They wanted to “use the money to actually build something,” Thayer said. The purpose of Tuesday’s meeting was to decide what Greenpoint wants for the park. They wanted to “talk about all the cool things we want to do,” Eric Peterson, the Brooklyn Park and Recreation Manager, added.

Peterson’s role is to seek improvements to this short-term project, as he put it. Because of the park’s temporary status, there are a limited number of options. First, they must build on top of the concrete instead of ripping it out because it requires too much attention from the New York State government.

Ideally, the designs would be decided upon from February and March. Then the designs would be given to the contractor in April. Construction would happen in spring and the park would open in the summer. The fourth of July was a possible opening date. Some participants spoke of how it would be nice to see the fireworks from the Brooklyn coastline. That, however, becomes a problem when the fence is taken into consideration.

The park’s designs have to accommodate the active warehouse at the end of India Street. There needs to be enough room in front of the park so trucks can load and unload. It was suggested that there be a barrier in front of the park, so cars don’t drive onto it. A fence around the park also becomes necessary because the business doesn’t want trespassers.

Building a new fence or some type of barrier along the water’s edge is necessary in order to protect people from the water. Instead of the typical riprap edge. which consists of rocks gradually sloping into the water, there is a jagged shelf that drops directly into the water. Once you’re in, “you can’t really get out,” Peterson explained.

“New York City also has a ridiculously strong risk management issue,” he said, “because people like to sue.” The edge of the pier is also crumbling.

The landscape architect suggested putting up jersey barriers instead. Another participant suggested greenery along the waterfront. Barbara Mcglamery, from GWAPP, took that idea further and suggested plants and planters of different heights.

The landscape architect suggested putting up jersey barriers instead. Another participant suggested greenery along the waterfront. Barbara Mcglamery, from GWAPP, took that idea further and suggested plants and planters of different heights.

Another idea was to build an elevated park. Playing off that, Mcglammery and a friend proposed an amphitheater for the view, built further inland. In response, Peterson suggested that it would provide a space for the homeless to stay.

“The most important thing is the view,” someone said. Peterson said he would see what is possible.

Because Greenpoint is also an arts neighborhood, it was suggested that different artists and artisans be solicited to work on benches and planters for the park. When it comes time for the park’s demolition, these objects can be removed and used somewhere else in the neighborhood. Bench styles were also chosen, the members settled on a 1930-style bench.

Since grass cannot be planted because it needs at least 3 feet of soil, someone brought up the idea of Astroturk or some sort of soft surface for children. Peterson also spoke of a color treatment for the park’s pavement, in order to distinguish it from the regular street.

There was also a discussion as to what plants and trees should be there. Mcglamery said there should be space for community gardens.

There is approximately $120,000 for the interim park, from GWAPP/Kaplan and New York State. It isn’t possible to pull in more money, so “we have to work with what we have,” Peterson said.

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