Two Brooklyn pols could force the city to do what it has said it doesn’t want to do and can’t afford for years — buy up the last remaining waterfront lots it promised to turn into parkland over a decade ago, in exchange for a rezoning that has transformed Williamsburg.
To some, the park represents more than just additional waterfront green space in Williamsburg: It has become a symbol of the city favoring developers over residents and failing to keep its promises.
How the plan would work
New York State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol have introduced legislation that would allow the state’s Empire State Development Corp. — an agency that promotes economic development and answers to Gov. Cuomo — to seize the remaining parcels of land needed to complete Bushwick Inlet Park.
The agency would turn over the property to the city but could compel the city to reimburse the state for the purchase, which won’t be cheap. If the city then does nothing with the land, the EDC could fine the city $1 million a year, according to the bill.
This week, the proposed legislation passed a Senate committee, The Daily News reported.
To some, the park has become a symbol of the city favoring developers over residents and failing to keep promises. (A group of park advocates counseled East New York residents not to support the rezoning there, which passed in April.)
The 2005 rezoning was opposed by the community board but passed the city council. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised the 28-acre waterfront park as compensation for moving forward with the rezoning and its forthcoming tall, dense towers.
Since that time, the city has developed a small slice of Bushwick Inlet Park, but not the entire thing.
More than a decade later, only a soccer field and green-roofed community building make up Bushwick Inlet Park, despite extensive development throughout the community.
Under Mayor de Blasio, the city has acquired more land for the park and started environmental cleanup.
In March, in another large move for the park, the city bought a seven-acre lot along the Williamsburg-Greenpoint waterfront for $53 million, to be used for the park’s expansion.
Still, much of the promised park land remains in private hands. Notably, the large CitiStorage property — the center of the promised park — is for sale, following a devastating fire. But the de Blasio administration has said it has no intentions to acquire the property because it is too expensive. It will not allow it to be rezoned for housing, either, however.
Advocacy group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park have been calling for the city to use eminent domain to acquire the parcels for some time.
The owner of the CitiStorage property, Norman Brodsky, told the Daily News he’d be “thrilled” for the state to grab his land, which he estimates is worth $325 million.
The park, once built, will offer waterfront-facing green space in the densely populated, built-up neighborhood.