In late January, a fire at the CitiStorage facility on North Brooklyn’s waterfront leveled a commercial warehouse on a parcel of land designated by the city in 2005 to become part of Bushwick Inlet Park.
Now is the time for Mayor Bill de Blasio to acquire this land and fulfill the city’s decade-long promise.
In the 19th century, Frederick Law Olmstead and other similar visionaries understood the importance of parks in urban centers as necessities, not amenities. In New York City, the benefits that parks provide are neverending. They provide more than just individual health or environmental enhancement.
Parks build and connect communities in the most positive of ways. Residents meet for everything from the celebration of life to the commemoration of death. Parks are community destinations where you get a glimpse of all the world’s cultures right in your own neighborhood, promoting unity and understanding.
Perhaps most important in North Brooklyn, parks are critical relief valves for people who live too close together. Being able to get out of an overcrowded apartment as a way to ease tensions caused by living in close quarters is valuable beyond measure. In this way, parks help keep our city’s families stable and safe.
In North Brooklyn, prior to the rezoning in 2005, the area consisted of predominantly low-level multi-family homes. Many of these homes had backyards as open space. But now, a large number of these homes no longer exist.
One of the consequences of the rezoning was that traditional homes have slowly but surely been torn down and replaced with high rise condominium buildings offering virtually no outdoor space – except a few rooftop gardens reserved only for the building’s occupants.
And, over the next several years, more than 1,000 units of affordable housing – primarily in high rise buildings – are slated to be built in North Brooklyn.
What kind of quality of life will these tenants have without park space?
The City of New York realized that rezoning the area would increase density and cause problems. That is why it assured the community during negotiations that additional open space – one of the most important being Bushwick Inlet Park – was part of the deal.
While some parcels of land have been purchased over the years, the opportunity to obtain the most important piece is here right now. The city cannot let this opportunity pass because it surely will not come again.