“Ten years ago, this land was off limits to the public,” Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, a nearby resident and frequent patron of the park, said last week. “This was an industrial site that had no real purpose at the time. The vision to return the most dramatic location in Brooklyn is something we should all be proud of.”
The uplands at Pier 5 includes a new lawn, paths and seating areas. A new boathouse and bathrooms will be coming this fall.
“Every time you’re here, you can really get a sense of how much this park is becoming a part of this borough and this neighborhood,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who is also chair of the park's board of directors.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is a self-sustaining space. A small fraction of the operation and maintenance funds come from permit fees and concessions, but the majority comes from development sites on the land’s footprint.
The largest is the 440-unit condominium complex One Brooklyn Bridge Park. Others include a mixed-use site at Pier 6, Pier 1 and two sites in DUMBO on the other side of Brooklyn Bridge.
Glen said the way the park is funded and financed is extremely important.
“This park has to have the resources necessary to keep growing and building it out and to make sure that it’s maintained as beautifully as it is today,” she said.
But the funding formula has come under fire from local advocates that want to see less development surrounding the park. Lori Suzanne Schomp circulated a petition last year that collected nearly 4,000 signatures to try and stop development at Pier 6.
The Brooklyn Heights Association is currently suing Brooklyn Bridge Park over the development at Pier 6. Settlement talks failed earlier this year, and the two sides will argue their case in State Supreme Court before Justice Lucy Billings.
State Senator Daniel Squadron, who testified against the Pier 6 proposal last year in a public hearing, said that regardless of how you feel about the funding mechanism, anytime more green space is open to the public is a cause for celebration.
“Whenever we get to open more park space, we can come together, whatever our differing visions are,” he said.