In North Brooklyn open green space for public recreation is considered scarce. But the mood was celebratory at the North Brooklyn Parks Alliances’ annual Party for the Parks held on Oct. 18 at the Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Ave.).
The passage of the Waste Equity Bill that will cut in half North Brooklyn’s waste processing by Oct. 2019 and the opening of the ultra-modern Domino Park on the Williamsburg waterfront highlighted a year of environmental victories in an area once defined by the burdens of industrial pollution.
Event honorees NYC Council Member Antonio Reynoso and CEO of Two Trees Management Jed Walentas received the 2018 Neighborhood Stewardship Award. Guest DJ Talib Kweli spun hip-hop anthems while hundreds of attendees sipped artisanal cocktails and craft brews from Brooklyn Brewery.
Reynoso, who was born and raised in the Los Sures area of Williamsburg, now represents a portion of the neighborhood along with sections of Greenpoint and Bushwick in Brooklyn since winning election in 2013 and sailing to re-election in 2017.
“We’re number three in the least amount of park space in the city of New York, but we’re number one in the amount of trash that we handle,” Reynoso said during his acceptance speech.
As chair of the NYC Council’s Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, Reynoso was integral in the Waste Equity Bill signed this summer by Mayor Bill de Blasio capping waste processing at 10 percent for each of the city’s 59 community boards.
While the neighborhood’s waste processing will soon decrease, green space is increasing. Reynoso worked alongside Walentas to deliver Domino Park as promised.
After the closure of the Domino Sugar Factory in 2004 the city approved residential rezoning for the 11-acre site in 2010.
Two Trees Management partnered with James Corner Field Operations (designer of Manhattan’s High Line Park) to deliver Domino Park, which opened in June 2018.
The park utilizes adaptive reuse with rusty steel beams on the park’s elevated walkway and features a fountain with seating steps, volleyball and bocce ball courts, a dog run and a playground.
“I hope you all recognize how lucky you are to have local leadership like Antonio,” Walentas said reflecting on the early planning stages of Domino Park.
“We had no idea about the neighborhood. We had no idea what went on locally on the streets, and they were very firm with us. I think they were not terribly optimistic; it’s just another developer coming along,” Walentas said acknowledging the often contentious relationship between developers and community activists.
Two Trees Management was founded in 1968 and has become a goliath in Brooklyn real estate development helping to transform DUMBO from a post-industrial wasteland into a luxury highrise community where waterfront green space has increased exponentially over the past decade.
When asked if during the planning phase he was skeptical on the promise to build Domino Park by Two Trees and Walentas Reynoso replied: “Jed is different. When he promises he delivers.”