Mr. Junkersfeld Gets to the Bottom of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s “Pebblegate”

BHB’s Karl Junkersfeld explains the gravel situation in Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1.  He talks to workers on the scene who tell us about the park pavement plan.

Share this Story:

  • Matthew Parker

    Thank you Mr. Junkerfeld, for injecting some much needed information and sensibility into this kerfuffle. Your video supports the notion I had mentioned in the “Gravel at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1- Good?” entry, that the gravel paving installation process is a multi-day process, and is not yet complete. It’s premature to judge the gravel surface installation.

    Rather than closing the park until this process is completed, the park developers chose instead to phase development and leave the park open while they continue to improve it.

    Pier 6 is a good example of what the pavement suface experience will look and feel like once the process is completed. IMHO, much more aesthetically pleasing than black top, cooler, with more traction for feet and wheels, and most importantly, mobility and accessibility for all.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Your message is a perfect postscript to this report. I read your comments last night after I completed the film and it said everything I was trying to convey in a very commonsensical intelligent way.

  • Heightsman

    Thank you Mr. Junkersfeld….finally some sense in the crowd. Enough with the rush to judgement we seem to have on all topics around here.

  • Big Dave

    Mr. J. comes to the rescue! Too bad the Park people couldn’t have put out information themselves beforehand.

  • bklyn20

    Yes, Big Dave.

  • Fritz

    While we are on the park, can someone explain what the deal is with Pier 4, the ruined wooden structure? Is it slowly disintegrating? Why is it still there and not dismantled?

    Not that I am complaining, it looks cool.

  • Flashlight Worthy

    (Full disclosure, I’m on the board of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. Not the organization that builds and operates the park, but that arranges a large portion of the programming in the park such as the education programs, free kayaking, Thursday night movies, etc.)


    The original plan for Pier 4 was to sever it from the park and set up the resulting island as a wildlife refuge. Unfortunately, a large part of the pier crumbled and sank into the harbor a few months ago. (This just goes to show the fragile state of these piers. Thank goodness the park builders are doing a serious audit of the other pier’s pilings and implementing repairs asap.)

    What are the plans now? As far as I know, to be determined.

  • Anon

    Just a small nitpick, that’s not a fork lift they’re sweeping gravel into at the end — it’s a backhoe loader. Forklifts have two prongs up front and are used to lift and move pallets of stuff. Backhoes are often found on construction sites, forklifts not so often.

  • Topham Beauclerk

    The woman interested in New York accents should certainly consider this park worker.

  • ABC

    I don’t believe this park should have been shut down while they did this work. I just don’t think they should have done this work.

    I don’t think that’s a rush to judgment. If they question is, do you prefer the blacktop asphalt or the finished gravel as seen at Pier 6, I say smooth asphalt.

    I appreciate the video, but I suspect if you would have asked any of the people with strollers or pushing bikes or using wheelchairs if they preferred this finished gravel or the blacktop, you may have gotten different answers.

  • Monty

    I think the entrance work should have been done before they opened. And it still could use more thought. That intersection is confusing and cars are coming off the BQE without a light or stop sign by Doughty St. The gravel situation is a nuisance, but a small price to pay if the finished product is good.

  • T.K. Small

    With all due respect Karl, characterizing the complaints about the management and creation of BBP as “misguided” is condescending and dismissive. I readily concede that this is a work in progress and that the loose gravel will be removed. But this does not change the fact that the remaining surface is uncomfortable and poses a significant barrier for some people to enjoy the park. It is undeniable that the population is aging and there will be more people with mobility impairments, whether they consider themselves disabled or not.

    Believe it or not, I actually have obligations outside the scope of being a neighborhood accessibility parks advocates, so I do not have the time to write more presently. Suffice it to say, the development of this important public space should not be looked to as a shining example of community buy-in and overall accessibility.

    Until later…

  • C.

    Looking at the video, I think I actually prefer the loose stones compared to the finished product. When finished, it looks kind of harsh. The loose pebbles had a cool old timey feel.

  • ABC

    I’m with TK on this.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Well T.K., your my hero so I can only say that I didn’t mean to come off as condescending or dismissive. Since I am not a lawyer but a financial guy, my wording may not reflect exactly what I am trying to convey. In fact, I was pleased to read Matthew Parker’s description of the process since his command of the English language is far superior to my own.

    Trust me when I say that I am the last person to condescend to anyone especially someone as gifted as yourself.

    I thought “misguided” was a polite way of characterizing some of the misconceptions out there about this surface.

    I apologize T.K. if my wording was clumsy. I didn’t mean it to be. I’ll try to do better next time.

  • Arch Stanton

    I agree with ABC. In my opinion, The gravel surface even when finished is not very practical. it may look good from a distance close up it looks sloppy & unfinished. I also think it will be a dirt trap that will be difficult to keep clean. it is way too rough, I have seen similar surfaces done with a much finer gravel which works much better.

  • Neil

    As the original post made no mention that the laying of the gravel was just a first step of the process, it was not surprising to see the negative reactions.

    In fact, I have seen several venues (The Mall in D.C., for example) where crushed gravel has been used as a top surface over unseeded soil, and it’s not the most pleasant result.

    I agree with the other respondent who prefers smooth asphalt.

  • Arch Stanton

    Spot on, Asphalt is used in every other park in the city and it works just fine… Self absorbed designers always think they can do better, but more often then not their cutting edge ideas are a miserable flop…

  • T.K. Small

    Karl, there is no need to apologize. This is Brooklyn where the strong survive and the weak are eaten. I was not offended, just pushing back a little bit. Also, I accept your compliment but I do not want to be considered as “inspirational” or “courageous”. I am just doing my job, raising arguments and hopefully, holding people accountable.

    Earlier this evening I went down to Pier 6 to look at and test the gravel which has been there all summer. In the main entrance it looks pretty awful. The subsurface layer is clearly visible and will only become more so as weathering continuous. We, the residents and taxpayers are not getting good value from the park planners. Karl, as a self-described “financial guy” I think you would agree that the money for the park is not endless. Putting aside any consideration of accessibility, this gravel is expensive and, in my estimation, will not last. To me, that seems like a bad investment.

    Some people have raised the temperature issue of asphalt versus the expensive gravel. I think that the temperature differential argument is also a red herring. Just outside Pier 6 and One Brooklyn Bridge Park, the sidewalk is perfectly smooth cement and is a lighter color than the beloved gravel. If the designers were really concerned about elevated temperatures, they could have chosen light colored cement, which is long-lasting and more practical.

    Probably more tomorrow…

  • Heightman

    T.K. : I tire of your long winded justifications of what’s right and wrong for all without first hand knowledge. Please come home from the Catskills before making a judgement. The rocks are fine for the park per my “wheels”. I wish all the best at the great new park.

  • wholemlk

    Thank you T.K. Small for saying it so well….
    I can’t seem to get the video to play, but from what I can gather from the comments, it seems that Pier 1 will eventually have the pebbled walkways.
    I cannot understand how this is good!
    I frequently bring my child to Pier 6, and have to say it’s a total disaster.
    It’s a mess!
    For starters, it is difficult to walk on (especially in summer shoes–sandals or flip-flops), and definitely difficult to roll a stroller on. How about the kids with their scooters and bikes?
    I’d also like to add how the pebbes all end up in the sandbox and in the water feature.
    On top of all that you should know that I witnessed workers “cleaning” the area.
    They had a giant machine that was essentially supposed to be picking up dirt, but instead, was picking up all the pebbles!!!!!
    Who on earth permitted that machine??? It left no pebbles behind!
    If you go to Pier 6, and look especially at the entryway, you will see there are no loose pebbles. Only pebbles stuck into the dirt.

    Obviously, my opinion is that the pebbles are awful! And apparently a waste, as they will all get eaten by their “cleaning” machine anyways. Who can I petition to keep them from laying out messy, dirty pebbles that will end up all over the currently soft and plush lawn, and keep us all from strolling easily along the pathways?