Want to learn about the future of the Bayside oil tanks at the future Bushwick Inlet Park?
The NYC Economic Development Corporation will present on the plan to remove the oil tanks at the Brooklyn Community Board 1 Environmental Committee meeting this Thursday, June 6th at 435 Graham Ave. at 6:30 p.m. Remediation for environmental toxins at the site will be complete prior to the demolition of the tanks.
Bushwick Inlet Park begins at N 9 Street in Williamsburg spanning to N 15 Street in Greenpoint along the waterfront and remains in the early stages of planning and development with only one open parcel at 50 Kent St., which itself will be developed further with trees, benches, and landscaping. The design phase of 50 Kent is expected to be finalized this summer, and construction could potentially start next year.
Some call it McGolrick Park, while many born and bred locals call it Winthrop Park. So what are you supposed to call it and why does the park have two names anyway? To answer these questions we need to explore the history of the pretty little nine-acre park.
The park was once swampy land on the Kingsland farm. You might have heard of Kingsland Avenue in South Greenpoint, but not know who Ambrose Kingsland was. Well, he was a rich Manhattan sperm whale oil merchant who served as mayor of New York in 1851. What saves him from the so what dustbin of irrelevant figures in history? Well in his two-year term as mayor he started the process of creating Central Park, but back to Greenpoint.
Kingsland had his farmland surveyed and he made a killing selling off parcels of it, but the land where the park sits was a swamp and draining it was too costly so it sat there undeveloped until the year 1889 when State Assemblyman Winthrop Jones spearheaded obtaining a $132,825 appropriation for its purchase. Locals howled about the outrageous price of the swampy land and they groused further because the City of Brooklyn (we were still an independent city then) paid even more for improvements to the park. The site was graded and fitted with a drainage system, and a new lawn was planted. Winthrop Jones died in 1891 and naming the park after the Calyer Street resident seemed like a fitting memorial.
Greenpoint residents have long been concerned about the open entrances to Greenpoint Playground at Dupont and Franklin Streets. John Whiteman, of Arete Living Arts Foundation, explained, “The playground has two large entrances with no gates. The main entrance leads right out onto a busy roadway. It is also beside a heavy construction site so there are lots of large vehicles coming through. Many times I have seen small children run through the gate and out toward the streets while horrified parents run after them.”
He shared his concern with Mayor de Blasio, Brooklyn Councilman Stephen Levin, and the Parks Department. The City has headed his cry. The Parks Department began discussing the project with local Greenpointers last fall, and installed gates at the end of March. Continue reading →
The community organization Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park has been fighting for green space in North Brooklyn since 2005. That year, the City rezoned Greenpoint and Williamsburg, leading to frenzied development in both neighborhoods. At the time of the Rezoning, the City promised to compensate North Brooklyn by adding park space to the neighborhood, with 27-acre Bushwick Inlet Park being the most prominent among the green parcels. But, 13 years later, residents are still waiting for that park space, and local advocacy groups like Open Space Alliance, Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning, and of course, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, have been fighting from that time til this to hold the City accountable.
Goal 2: Create a balance between active and passive recreation opportunities to serve the diverse recreation needs of the community
Goal 3: Identify appropriate opportunities for direct interaction with the river, such as boating
Goal 4: Promote a healthy east river environment through sustainable design practices, habitat enhancement, and public education
Goal 5: Develop design guidelines to unify the waterfront as a whole, while encouraging the creation of unique, memorable spaces on an individual basis
Goal 6: Reflect the rich character, heritage and culture of the community in both publicly and privately developed open spaces.
Neighborhood advocates had enormous success working toward those goals in 2017: In April, Mayor de Blasio closed on all 27 acres of parkland, ensuring that Bushwick Inlet Park will be a reality; in October, the Mayor pledged an additional $17.5 million in funding to develop the park, and over the summer, the City finished remediating the 50 Kent parcel of parkland. Following those spectacular strides, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park hopes to take advocacy “to the next level” in 2018, pushing the City, the Parks Department, and other involved stakeholders to remediate, design and develop the rest of the park with community input, in a way that adheres to the principles of the original Master Plan. Continue reading →
If the current Columbia study on lead levels in Greenpoint’s soil has you steering clear of all things growing, community gardens could help you find a safer place to try out your green thumb: the study finds that public park spaces have significantly lower concentrations of lead than private yards. Further, based on Cornell’s 2014 study of New York City community garden soils, NYC Parks GreenThumb (which administers the city’s community gardens) prioritized clean soil deliveries to affected gardens.
So, ready to pull a Joni Mitchell and get yourself back to the garden? With over 600 community gardens throughout all five boroughs, New York City has the largest community gardening program in the nation. This handy NYC Parks GreenThumb Community Garden Guide lets you search by zip code or address to find the ones closest to you. Read on for a roundup of local community gardens. Continue reading →
Are you an artist working and living in Brooklyn? You can become a NYC Parks featured artist at the park house at Bushwick Inlet Park. Attend the open house this Wednesday to tour the space, meet fellow artists and get guidelines for submission.
Call for Artists: NYC Parks/Brooklyn Recreation Deadline: May 20, 2017
Open House: Wednesday, April 19 | 6:30pm – 8pm Where: Bushwick Inlet Center | Kent Avenue & North 9th Street
This program is open to all Brooklyn artists and arts organizations. However, emergent artists with a strong sense of community engagement or community focused practice are encouraged to apply. For more information and/or to RSVP: [email protected]
Located in the heart of Greenpoint is a park named for longtime neighborhood advocate Monsignor McGolrick, an Irish pastor who became a major community figure in the late 1800s. These days, the Greenpoint area has a new community leader. Her name is Konstancja Maleszyńska.
She works for the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn, a non-profit that partners with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to help “fill the gaps” that result from underfunding and understaffing within the city department. One of her current projects is organizing monthly “Saturday Sweeps” of McGolrick Park, where neighbors can come meet one another and work together to pick up litter. Continue reading →