The group held its first meeting last week at Red Star Bar at 37 Greenpoint Ave., just up the street from the new waterfront parkland.
The meeting quickly became a debate over whether or not there should be a dog run in the park, but Christine Holowacz, co-chairperson for the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning (GWAPP), said the meeting was essential in tackling similar future issues.
“Dogs are unleashed in the park and there needed to be a solution,” she said.
Holowacz was also there to give a presentation on a possible nature walk and lend her “friends group knowledge” to the newly organized assembly. Although her services at the last meeting were focused on dogs, she said the group could not have moved forward without this open forum for debate.
“I think at the end of the meeting, there were people on both sides of the issue, but now there are people looking for a dog run someplace else,” she said.
As much of the meeting was spent in debate over whether or not the space should be used as a passive space for parents to bring their children, Barbara Vetell, chairperson for the Friends of Transmitter Park, was happy to see a resolution on the matter, as she has long pushed for a quiet haven in her neighborhood.
“While people have always been fighting against something, now they are fighting for something,” Vetell said, reinvigorated after seeing the neighborhood’s enthusiasm. “This park is so important to everybody because of the environmental problems we have here.”
When she first moved to Greenpoint from SoHo in 1972 with her now late husband, the two immediately became interested in converting the old WNYC Transmitter site into a park.
“My husband wanted this before anybody was talking about this as a park,” she said, recalling his efforts to convert the site back in the 70s. “Because the city didn’t have the money, it just didn’t happen.”
When the area was rezoned, delivering the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, the neighborhood once again became interested in a park on the waterfront.
In addition to their anticipation of utilizing the newly installed fishing pier, the group is now looking ahead to developing more ideas. It was even suggested that the old transmitter building be converted into a science museum.
“We would like to have different things for the children,” she said. “The next meeting we have will be all about the park, and we will be choosing our co-chairs.”
Kim Gabriel has lived in Greenpoint for the last nine years and is happy to see there is a finally a place in the neighborhood to enjoy the waterfront.
“I really like the view,” Gabriel said. “When I first moved here I was like, ‘I’m going to go hang out at the river,’ and I had to go climb a fence to get down there.”
Gabriel now brings her two children to the park and meets with Brooklyn Baby Hui, an internet-based networking group for new mothers.
“I’ve always wondered why there weren’t parks on the river,” she said. “It’s really great for that little monkey over there,” she said pointing to her two-year-old child running to the jungle gym.