A segment of the controversial Fort Greene Park redesign received a nod of approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday. Up for review was the creation of accessible pathways and the incorporation of erosion control measures on the western edge of the historic park.
The full makeover, now with a price of $24 million, was relaunched in April after local activists sued the city in 2020 over an earlier design, citing the need for environmental review and transparency in the process. The new scheme, which falls under falls under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Parks Without Borders initiative, focuses on accessibility, infrastructure upgrades, plantings and lighting.
The roughly $3.75 million portion of the project up for review at LPC, dubbed the West Park Landscape, would reconstruct existing pathways and introduce new accessible pathways connecting the lower and upper portions of the park west of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument. Curvilinear pathways with a granite block edge would incorporate flooding and erosion control measures to mitigate water issues at the nearby tennis courts.
In response to questions about the removal of trees, an issue which led to a lawsuit in 2017, landscape architect Paul Kidonakis, who presented the project for NYC Parks, indicated that for this specific project “three or four” would be removed due to their condition.
Rosamund Fletcher, Executive Director of the Fort Greene Park Conservancy testified in favor of the permanent solution that would address longstanding issues in this section of the park.
Among the three people who testified during the virtual meeting in opposition to the project were two members of the Friends of Fort Greene Park who urged the LPC to set aside a decision on the issue before them until the environmental review process for the full design was complete. That review is currently under way, according to David Cuff, Director of Environmental Review at the NYC Parks, and a draft should be ready “soon.”
LPC General Counsel Mark A. Silberman confirmed for the commissioners that the environmental review is a separate process and does not affect the ability of the commission to review the current proposal before them under the landmarks law. In matters concerning the Parks Department, LPC review is advisory.
All the commissioners voted in support of the proposal, with Commissioner John Gustaffson providing the caveat that “This is a partial plan and having seen some of the destruction that’s been done in the name of Parks Without Borders I can approve this as is, but that is not a reflection on how Landmarks is going to rule on the rest of this plan when that does come up.”
[Renderings by NYC Parks via NYC Landmarks Commission]
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