Brooklyn Bridge Park Funds Still Uncertain
by Daniel Bush
Apr 07, 2009 | 1022 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
More than one week after Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the city's desire to take over Brooklyn Bridge Park, the park's fate still remains uncertain.

At a press conference last month the mayor used his strongest language yet to insist that the state hand fiscal responsibility of the park over to the city.

"The state's got so many things on its plate, they just can't spend the time in doing it," Bloomberg said of the project.

The park, currently a joint city-state venture, is expected to cost $350 million, but to date only $230 million has been raised by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Economic Development Corporation (BBPDC).

Right now the city is slated to contribute nearly $150 million, while the state is onboard for $85 million, leaving a funding gap of roughly $120 million.

Despite this, the BBPDC began the first phase of construction this year on the 1.3-mile, 85-acre waterfront park. A state official declined to comment for this story.

Bloomberg proposed plugging the budget gap by using city funds currently reserved for the proposed Javits Center expansion. Bloomberg said the offer, however, is contingent on the state giving the city full control of the park and the redevelopment of Governor's Island.

"If they are not willing to turn it over to us, we'll turn it over to them," Bloomberg said of the state at the press conference. "But then we're not going to put city money in, obviously."

The mayor's threat to abandon the project entirely to the state by pulling out city funding drew both support and criticism from other elected officials.

"I applaud and wholeheartedly support Mayor Bloomberg's efforts to have the city assume control of Brooklyn Bridge Park," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. "At a time when the state is struggling to balance its budget and the project has been slowed by a $120 million funding gap, I urge the governor to transfer to the city the financing and development of all the land envisioned for the project."

Markowitz said that the park, with its proposed beaches, recreation areas, and playgrounds, is the borough's most significant open space development since Prospect Park.

"This project is vital to Brooklyn's economy and its future, so let's do whatever it takes to turn this 'urban emerald' into a reality," said Markowitz.

After the mayor made his park plans clear, State Senator Daniel Squadron proposed a much different plan for the space. Squadron announced a legislative initiative to help fund the park by increasing surrounding property taxes. Under Squadron's plan, the project would not include the luxury apartments the BBPDC plans to build in the park's footprint.

The proposal has been criticized by city and state officials who still remain locked in negotiations over the park following the mayor's announced takeover plans.
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