Local activists, politicians, and community members gathered along the Williamsburg-Greenpoint waterfront last week to advocate for the complete construction of the long-promised Bushwick Inlet Park.
The event was organized by the Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, a community group that has been fighting for the project for nearly two decades.
In 2005, large portions of Williamsburg and Greenpoint were rezoned under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In addition to new development, elected officials promised an expansive, miles-long park along the area’s formerly industrial coastline.
Although North Brooklyn has since experienced a boom in new development, the promised park remains elusive 16 years down the line.
“The population growth along the North Brooklyn waterfront initiated by the 2005 rezoning has exceeded the city’s estimates by historic proportions,” said Steve Chesler, an organizer with the Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park. “Yet, the creation of Bushwick Inlet Park promised to help mitigate this new neighborhood density is happening at a snail’s pace.
“After 16 years and counting, only 8 acres out of 27 are built or in progress,” he added. “For our health and well being, the city must speed up its execution and funding for completion of this public green space and fulfill its commitment to its residents.”
“Sixteen years into the redevelopment of the neighborhood and we have 20 percent of the park we were promised,” said Ward Dennis, another Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park organizer. “We hope to at least make some progress and get rid of this building.”
The building in question is a large, storage warehouse along the waterfront. In 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city bought the site for $160 million, rekindling hope that the full Bushwick Inlet Park would become a reality.
However, there are currently no plans in place to demolish the structure.
“We are here to celebrate the capital investment of Mayor de Blasio,” said Catherine Thompson. “We are grateful because he secured the future of Bushwick Inlet Park. Now Mr. Mayor, tear down this building!”
Thursday’s rally was attended by multiple local officials and members of the Triboro United Youth Soccer Club.
“I would like to thank Mayor de Blasio for picking up the broken pieces left by the Bloomberg administration and the mostly disastrous 2005 rezoning,” said Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher. “Mayor de Blasio, we are almost there and your term is almost up. Let this be a part of your legacy.”
Counciman Stever Levin said he is currently working to include the park project in the soon-to-be-finalized city budget, with a special focus on demolishing the warehouse. The budget must be finalized ahead of the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.
“Justice delayed is justice deferred is justice denied,” said Levin. “That is what we are seeing right now. There is a generation of kids in North Brooklyn who need this space.”