Park Developers Agree to Carousel Plan

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation has agreed to accept Jane’s Carousel at the location desired by its donor, Jane Walentas, in the former Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park. DUMBO doyenne Jane Walentas has reached a final deal with the developers of Brooklyn Bridge Park to donate her lovingly restored 1920s carousel to a waterfront spot behind the old Tobacco Warehouse — but the controversy over the plan is just beginning.

Some neighborhood leaders decried park planners for allowing Walentas, the wife of real-estate titan David Walentas, to not only pick the spot where her carousel would be sited, but also choose the architect to design the transparent, glass-walled pavilion where it will be housed.

Opponents of the siting argued that the carousel enclosure, designed by prominent French architect Jean Nouvel and designed to be illluminated at night, would interfere with views of the Brooklyn Bridge from Main Street and further north in the Park. The Brooklyn Paper, in an editorial today, implies that this opposition stems from anti-Walentas animus incited by the proposed Dock Street project (about which more in a subsequent post) and by David Walentas’ “treat[ing] the neighborhood like his own little fiefdom”, and that the opponents have “seized on the announcement as another chance to take a deep quaff from the mug of Haterade.”

Update: Here’s Curbed’s take on the subject, with a great photo-montage.

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  • Monty

    It’s amazing how everything being built in DUMBO is obstructing people’s view of the bridge. The bridge is actually pretty big and hard to miss from anywhere. Also, I am hopeful that the Jean Nouvel enclosure will not be an eyesore.

  • dig

    this will be great for the park. I wish the anti-waltentas crowd would get a friggin’ life and have alook around them, they wouldn’t be living in dumbo if it weren’t for the walentas’ vision

  • martinlbrooklyn

    A real gift, an honest and generous gift, would have been to make the carousel available, endow its support, and then walk quietly away. This is a gift but with great big strings. They say, in effect: You can have it and lots of money, too, but it has to be in exactly the spot I want it in and with a building I want it in.
    This is gaming the public interest to satisfy private egos. Why should public property be subject to such self-centered, personal needs?

  • my2cents

    dig is right. About 95% of Dumbo residents wouldn’t have ever heard of the place in the first place if it weren’t for Walentas. For all these folks say,it sort of IS his private fiefdom. He pretty much owns the whole neighborhood. I think the carousel is a nice gesture, and I am a big Nouvel fan. We should be happy to receive such a gift.

  • AEB

    I’m always surprised when people who develop and sell real estate, in whatever form and manner, receive incredulous rebukes when “caught” doing just that.

    This is not a hip-hooray for capitalism, but rather a response to those who think business people with money at stake shouldn’t really act like themselves and in that way. They will, all of the time.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    “It’s going to rival the Brooklyn Bridge,” complained board member Mary Goodman.

    The above is a quote I read in the NYPost. If it is accurate then I think hysteria has set in. It amazes me how many people hate developers like Walentas and Ratner. These guys have spent millions in Brooklyn developing land that was considered wasteland. Anyone who knows Brooklyn knows DUMBO was in pretty bad shape prior to Wallentas. Look at Metrotech and try to remember what was there before, wasteland. No Metrotech, no ORO, Toren, Citipoint, Willoughby Square park etc. And now with Prokhorov buying a big stake in Atlantic Yards, you can bet this area will be something Brooklyn can be proud of rather than empty railroad tracks.

    I think Walentas deserves some credit and I respect him taking the risk with his capital when no one else thought this area deserved any respect.

  • heyya

    Exactly, people above. How in the hell do people think there came to be a CITY here? We built things (some of them even obstructed views of other things!). That doesn’t mean that *any* development is good — projects can be terrible ideas, cough, West Side Stadium — but people really need to get over this knee-jerk.

  • mary goodman

    While I appreciated Rich Calder’s piece in the Post, the quote above was, if anything, a passing comment from me. Additionally, Mr Junskersfeld, you may think Atlantic Yards is great, but there are many educated people who would disagree with you and those who applaud it.

    My larger point regarding the carousel was that the large donation given by the Walentases has very heavy strings attached. If the carousel didn’t go where they wanted it, the additional donation would not have gone to the park. And the park planners might not have accepted the carousel without the generous donation. Yes, the donation was generous — from people who, yes, have helped put Dumbo on the map while, let’s be frank, greatly enlarging their personal wealth.

    When things are added to Brooklyn Bridge Park, especially now that it’s a quasi-city park subject to ULURP, there must be a public process. There was none. For me and many others, the CB2 meeting was a kind of trompe l’oeil public process, with 45 minutes of carousel presentation and 15 minutes of public commentary. Since most committee members and the public would like to be home by 9:00 pm, and because other CB2 business must be done, the time for commentary is at a minimum. Many of the questions I and others asked were not answered. It was not necessary to do so — the carousel is a slam-dunk.

    There is supposed to be a SEIS (Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement), a legal requirement, whenever something not in the General Project Plan is added. But there was none. No public hearing, no opportunity for written comments, nothing of the kind.

    A real public process for Brooklyn Bridge Park was held in the LICH conference rooms a number of months ago, and attended by well over 100 people. A carousel was proposed — at the end of Pier 6, wherer it would serve bring people down Atlantic Avenue and onto Pier 6, and thus into the park. What happened to those ideas?

    When the carousel’s total absence of public process was pointed out to Jane Walentas, she professed that “everyone knew about it” and “Carol Ash liked it!” The endorsement of Carol Ash, the NY State Parks Commisioner, does not constitute a public process.

    By way of illustration: If I win the powerball lottery this weekend, can I make all of Pier 5 a self-sustaining dog run? If you do that for me, I’ll give $7 million of my winnings to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp! We can make it self-sustaining by charging for admission, for use of water and water bowls. Maybe the dogs can run on treadmills, a la Cesar Milan, in order to to generate enough energy to keep the lights on…how about that, everyone?

    It’s a beautiful carousel. Should many trees and green space be lost to us with no public voice in the matter? Will the next “park feaure by fiat” come with a Jean-Nouvel designed shelter? Time to get a lottery tiket.

  • ashton

    I don’t know why the Wallentases relationship with the neighborhood they invented and built (over the protests of the Brooklyn Heights establishment) is so fraught. I really don’t. But I do think that the Brooklyn Bridge is really big and majestic and will not be overshadowed or diminished by painted wooden horsies.

  • mary goodman

    Another point: Even though I have relatives who were on Fulton Ferry pre-Walentas (just have to put that in), I am NOT speaking or writing out of Walentas-hate, They are not my favorite real estate developers — but then again, who ARE my favorite real estate developers? Hmmm…..trying again for that tiCket.

  • ashton

    The Brooklyn Heights community has been rather negative about development projects in DUMBO from the very begining. Can someone in the know tell us where the bad blood began?
    Was it a catastrophic meeting? A luncheon that ended in fistycuffs? There is some kind of feud going on, but only the insiders know the story. I would love to know a little more background.

  • David on Middagh

    I love Fulton Ferry Park just as it is. I am distraught that it is closed for no good reason right now. It is a very special place, and does not need a carousel. Given that the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Park makes scores of other acres available *de novo* for such things, I wish that Jane would store her carousel elsewhere.

  • nabeguy

    I’ll just say one thing…this ain’t Levittown, it’s Brooklyn. And nobody should have sole discretion over what happens in its neighborhoods, whether they created it or not. The only reason that development opportunities became available to the likes of the Walentas’s and the Ratner’s is that the city drove out the industrial base in the 70’s through over-taxation. 40 years on, the city lauds the developers as saviors for no other reason than increasing the tax-base that they drove out in the first place.

  • Publius

    It should be recalled that the so-called Brooklyn Paper and it’s “Editorial Board” shilled shamelessly for Walentas/Two Trees. In fact, during the Dock Street fight, the Brooklyn Paper were tenants of Two Trees, yet repeatedly failed to disclose this material business relationship to readers of their “editorials” that strongly supporting their landlord.

    The so-called Brooklyn Paper has little journalistic integrity, and even less so now that it’s a Rupert Murdoch property.

    Any neighbor has more credibility or right to opine on development than Rupert’s rubber stamps on the Brooklyn Paper’s “editorial board” who astro-turf shamlessly for their master and his business interests. Not suprisingly, most of the shoddy articles and editorials are picked up by it’s “sister” Murdoch publication, the NY Post.

  • my2cents

    I just think it’ll be nice when that carousel stops taking up that storefront in its taunting un-rideability. Instead it’ll be in the park and pampered dogs can ride it (no kids allowed except in the kid run area). That is a neighborhood benefit. I am sort of tired of this howling about public process all the time. There will opponents to any and every thing anyone tries to do, public or private. People complain that parks take years to build, but they are constantly putting the brakes on projects through fighting against things unnecessarily. Everyone has an agenda, not just the developers.

  • Publius

    “Money can’t buy you friends, but it does get you a better class of enemy” – Spike Milligan

  • John Wentling

    Here here nabeguy!!

  • Teddie Boy Eddie

    Only the most narrow-minded people think that the only option for that intersection of Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Ft. Greene and Downtown Brooklyn is a basketball arena … and that taking private property away from homeowners to benefit a private developer is a good idea.

  • Someone

    Doesnt the carousel have to move because in reality that “storefront” someone else called it above is going to be part of the Dock Street project?

  • ashton

    most of the folks who moved to Levittown came from Brooklyn and I’m sure they never looked back. Don’t disrespect other people’s communities, it’s crass. Being from Brooklyn in no way makes you superior to someone from Levittown or anywhere else. The truth is that just like someone bought up potato farms and invented Levittown, someone bought up empty factories and invented DUMBO.