Fall 2000, p.7

Park Critics Fight Ped Entrance

Brooklyn residents have been embroiled in a heated debate over transportation, access, and funding issues surrounding the proposed Brooklyn Bridge Park, which will encompass 70 acres. The main critic of the proposed park, Waterfront Development Watch (WDW), has charged that the current park plan is overly commercial, auto-reliant and poorly planned in regards to pedestrian access.

T.A. is also concerned that the park's proposed hotel and recreation center will generate significant traffic. If the park gets the needed approval from Governor Pataki, T.A. will lobby hard during the environmental impact statement (eis) process-estimated at several years long-to significantly reduce the number of proposed parking spaces, and make sure that environmentally sensible methods of travel to the park are encouraged. However, T.A. strongly disagrees with Waterfront Development Watch's proposition to limit pedestrian access to the park via Joralemon Street. Under the currently proposed plan, Joralemon-the only street in the Heights with direct access to the waterfront-is one of four entrances to the park, along with Squibb Park, Old Fulton Street, and Atlantic Avenue. Based on nebulous fears of crime and throngs of outsiders streaming down the street to the park, WDW has proposed constructing a cast-iron gate at the base of Joralemon Street to block off the street. As a counter-measure, the group has proposed adding an entrance to the park at Montague Street, via a bridge from the Heights Promenade over the BQE.

Montague Street does make sense as an entry point for the park, but funding for the needed pedestrian bridge-estimated to cost $15-25 million-is uncertain at best. And even if a Montague Street entrance to the park were created, the gating off of Joralemon Street-a public street-is ridiculous, and smacks of elitism and gated communities. Joralemon Street is the logical access point to the waterfront, and if there is a Brooklyn Bridge Park, it should be used as one of the pedestrian entryways. Transportation Alternatives will continue to push for the best possible pedestrian and bicycle access to the Brooklyn Bridge Park.