T.K. Small Talks Brooklyn Bridge Park Gravel with NY Daily News

NY Daily News photo

BHB contributor/ mega-attorney T.K. Small was interviewed by the NY Daily News about the new gravel walkways at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1:

NY Daily News: “See the way I’m bouncing around?” he said as he maneuvered his electric wheelchair over the path. “You’re just bumping along. It’s slow and tedious. “I can do it, [but] for a lot of people that use either a manual wheelchair or walker or a cane or crutches or something like that, they’re going to have trouble getting there,” he said. “It’s a really fabulous view; it’s just spectacular. . . . I still can’t figure out why [the gravel] is necessary.”

Brooklyn Bridge Park officials tell the paper something we’ve heard before — crews will be sweeping and tamping down the gravel to make it a smooth surface as planned. That was the case at Pier 6 where one resident tells the paper the pathway is now “perfect”.
Note: This article is not currently available on line. For now, enjoy this PDF courtesy of Mr. Small.

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  • Karl Junkersfeld

    T.K., you once accused me of condescension. Well judging from this bogus complaint, maybe condescension was appropriate. Never let the facts get in the way of a story. You knew the roads were not completed yet couldn’t help yourself.

    Why didn’t you take the reporter to Pier Six? Guess it wouldn’t fit your version of the facts.

    You have lost some credibility with me T.K.

    Is your point that they shouldn’t have opened the roads until you were guaranteed a smooth ride?

    If so, at least that would be an honest sentiment.

  • nabeguy

    Perhaps everyone should calm down and let this situation play out as it was planned. I will admit to no small amount of frustration over the way the park has progressed in fits and starts, and that incomplete projects were nevertheless opened to the public, but I’m trying to maintain faith that, in the end, all the issues will be addressed and redressed. Unfortunately, this project seems to have been subject to a political deadline rather than a construction one. Let’s all hope that the latter catches up to and surpasses the former.

  • hello kitty

    Have you noticed how the handicapped ruin everything?

    Just sayin’ what you’re thinkin’.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    No, No, No, that is far from what I am saying.

    I respect T.K. for his work as a disability advocate. On this specific issue, I disagree with his complaint over an issue that he knew was in the process of being resolved. Putting the BBP management in a position to defend themselves was unfair.

    Anyone who has been over to Pier Six and seen the completed roads knows that these roads are perfectly compatible with someone in a wheelchair.

    My point is that T.K. knew that the pebbles would be cleaned off but still felt compelled to complain about pebbles on the roads at Pier One.

    Like I said, if his complaint is that the roads never should have be opened until completed then I can respect that sentiment even though I disagree with it.

    Judging from the small slice that I have read, I don’t think that was the thrust of T.K.’s argument. I’m sure he will respond and clarify his position sometime in the near future.

  • ABC

    Eh, Karl. We all heard your opinion. TK can have his.

    In my condescending opinion, the blacktop was far superior to the finished product at Pier 6. But I’m guessing you don’t push a stroller, or ride a scooter, or walk a dog, or use a walker, or push your bike, or need a wheelchair. So, you’re good. Awesome.

    How do they plow this is the winter?

  • T.K. Small


    At the risk of being long-winded, I most definitely did explain the situation at Pier 6 and would have been happy to take her there. Pier 6 in many ways is a better example of why this surface material is ridiculous. It is just as bumpy and is wearing away so that the sub-layer is already showing. However, it was threatening rain and she wanted to speak to other people. Is that my fault?

    I have always maintained that this is not about my access to the park, and also explained that to the reporter. Everyone is in more than agreement that BBP is an amazing location with a spectacular view, which is going to be great. But shouldn’t it be designed so that it can be enjoyed by as many people as possible? I do not think that that is a “bogus” complaint

    Be honest, are you there for the surface material or the spectacular view? Why does this have to be an all are nothing proposition? It seems that with many of the “gravel enthusiasts”, they take any criticism or disagreement of BBP as a statement that the park should be closed until perfect.

    I would be more than happy to meet with Karl, or anyone else that thinks this is a trivial concern, to explain this issue from my perspective.

  • Karl Junkersfeld


    Please, before directing your sarcasm at me, go to Pier 6 and look at the finished product. It is in no way disadvantageous to strollers, scooters, dog owners etc.

    That’s my only point.

  • Karl Junkersfeld


    Let’s put it to the test. I’ll meet you tomorrow or any time this week and we will go to Pier 6 together and I will film you going over a fully completed pathway. I will film a closeup of the wheels and if it is bumpy and causes and uncomfortable ride then I will be the first to apologize and will say so on the film.

    What do you say?

    The road has to be completed is my only stipulation. Not one in process. Is that fair?

  • T.K. Small

    Tomorrow probably will not work, but I should be around this entire weekend. However, I must reiterate. This is not about me. I can navigate my power wheelchair even on the loose gravel, I just get a little bit jostled. So, filming me doesn’t prove much. Why don’t we meet without your camera and have a friendly conversation. In the meantime, I will try to speak to some people with a variety of disabilities for a demonstration.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    T.K., I’m available all weekend with a little advance notice. Homer has my phone number and email address. As you said, it isn’t about either of us. It is about accessibility to the park’s main paths.

    Can’t wait to meet you in person.

  • bkre

    I don’t use a wheelchair, so I can’t comment on that. But I have ridden my bike and pushed a stroller many times a Pier 6. Anyone who claims that this surface somehow impedes their ability to do either of those things is just plain old full of crap. Like I said, not commenting on wheelchairs on this surface, so I can’t comment on TK’s complaints.

  • Fritz

    Are people allowed to ride bikes on the graveled walking paths? Isn’t there a sign saying walk bikes at the entrance to both parks?

  • ABC

    Karl, I have been to Pier 6 maybe 20 times with a double stroller, maybe 10 times pushing my bike to the ferry, and at least a dozen times with kids on (and falling off) scooters. So I think I have enough experience to give my opinion on a blog.

    How many times have you been to Pier 6 with a stroller or a scooter or a dog?

    I’m not saying the gravel impedes my access. I have never said that. I’m saying it’s not an improvement — and is in fact disadvantageous — over the blacktop. Why are we spending money on this?

    And why are people who have thoughts about this park or the gravel or the domes dismissed as being ungrateful whiners? There is a chance that when you take park users thoughts into consideration, good things can happen. The domes could have been removed sooner (and lawsuit avoided). Perhaps the gravel could have been removed before it was “finished” and will really hard to remove.

    Can you tell me how it’s an improvement? Can anyone?

  • Karl Junkersfeld


    Of course you are entitled to your opinion as far as your surface preference. I respect that.

    I never characterized individuals who prefer the original surface layer as “ungrateful whiners. This is America and you are entitled to your opinion.

    We both know that most parts of Pier 6 aren’t completed with respect to the final surfacing called “chip seal”. This could explain your dissatisfaction.

    This process will take possibly 2 months to be completed. In the meantime we have to make do with the surfacing that is currently in place.

    Once the entire process is completed, then complaints about the surface will have much more validity.

    As you are entitled to prefer the blacktop, I prefer the more natural looking chip seal. Reasonable people can disagree.

    ABC, have a great day with this beautiful weather.

  • ujh

    I’m appalled at the complaints about the unfinished park and the path surface. Maybe the posters would rather deprive local citizens and tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world of this extraordinary park until it’s finished, which won’t happen for years to come.

    And blacktop paving? Have you forgotten that dark surfaces exposed to the sun produce high heat? Did you ever walk on a tarred surface in 95 degree heat? And how often do you think will snow be high enough (if there is any to begin with) to require plowing during our ever warmer winters?

  • John Wentling

    Interesting comparisons – wheelchairs to strollers and bicycles??

    As an FHA/ADA disability advocate, the pathways should have been finished to accommodate wheelchairs/power chairs BEFORE they were opened. To some, being “jostled” in a wheelchair is akin to being skinned alive, guess you have to live it, God forbid, to understand it.

    TK has been most patient, seems to me he’d be quite justified in filing an ADA complaint, I applaud his restraint.

  • ABC

    Karl I only object that you say in one line that I am entitled to my opinion (thanks!) and in another line that criticism isn’t valid.

    I was talking about the finished parts of Pier 6. I toured this with park planners and officials before the park opened and again recently. It’s possible that other people know what they’re talking about too.

    I hope you are having a terrific day!

  • jim

    You all need to get jobs….

  • Karl Junkersfeld


    Well said. I need to get a life. lol

  • http://www.ada.gov Disability Advocate


    Love the videos, but you’ve crossed a line here. In your point of view, justice delayed is justice ok. Perhaps you’re looking at it from a layperson’s perspective, or as someone who is not disabled, but disability access means access to everyone at all times, regardless of their disability and on the same basis as non-disabled people. Asking the disabled community to wait several months, which is well past the summer months of maximum enjoyment of the park, is not appropriate from a personal standpoint or a legal standpoint. The Americans with Disability Act (and the New York and New York City disability access laws) provides for equal access to public accommodations. Brooklyn Bridge Park is a public accommodation under the Act. See, e.g. http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/ADAregs2010.htm, http://www.ada.gov/ and http://www.nyc.gov/html/cchr/html/public.html).

    Regardless of whether you view T.K.’s wheels as being bumpy or not, his point (and he is well qualified to state his own point without me or anyone else doing it for him), is that others not as fortunate as himself will have difficulty. In my belief, you view his advocacy as only for himself. But notwithstanding his own disability, T.K. advocates for others. It is admirable and this is the point of the article once you take off your own disability un-access glasses.

    The real learning issue, and perhaps teachable moment for you, is not film T.K. but to get yourself a wheelchair (manual, not T.K.’s “Escalade”) and spend time trying to navigate the path. You’ll better understand the issue. While you’re doing so, pretend you’re upper arms are not as strong, or that perhaps you have other impairments that preclude full use of your motor skills. After all, some of the disabled have multiple impairments and are not one issue folks. Try some of the local sidewalks, too, and the crosswalks without ramps, and you’ll get a sense of the problems that exist. One could, perhaps, deal with difficulties in historical areas not designed for full access. But this may account for one’s sense of frustration and wanting to get something new done right the first time, at the beginning.

    I note that if T.K, or anyone else, wanted to raise a larger issue, it is easy to do so. One could either file a lawsuit or a complaint under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act with the United States Department of Justice. It is easy to do (http://www.doi.gov/diversity/civil_rights.html and http://www.doi.gov/diversity/doc/howto.htm), and an ADA lawsuit provides for attorneys fees to the party who prevails. As an attorney, and assuming he found a willing plaintiff (easy to do), T.K. would get those fees. But, like a good advocate, and because he went to the finest of law schools, he sough resolution instead of litigation. He should be applauded for acting in the public interest and not his self-interest.

    Karl, I believe you come from a good place, but you need some learnin’. Where will you stand when the next disability access issue arises?

  • Julie Denkin

    Not only is black top unpleasantly hot in the sun (not only for walkers but also for plants and for people on benches adjacent to black top) but during winter and earlier periods of icy weather, I believe the ‘chip seal’ will provide a safer surface with better traction than black top-which tends to be slick and slippery. For one, when I first saw the black top, I was rather dismayed and am quite pleased with the look & feel of the new path.

  • Arch Stanton

    @ Julie and all others who are anti black top… Are you people nuts? Black top or macadam surfaces are used successfully in almost every park in the city and most other places as well. Direct sun will heat any surface, besides, the lighter stone reflects the sunlight where? on the person who is standing on it, thats where. But of course you didn’t think, of that…

  • Eddy de Laurot

    I am in support of T.K. on this one… The surface is not right.
    Karl, with all respect you are not a construction professional and should be careful when dealing with a subject you know little of (you called a loader a forklift in your video, Also you’ve stated you are a financial guy, several times on the BHB), you cannot simply shoot a video and ask a few simple questions get accurate answers. Taking the word of the park developers is not good either as typically; the client is the last to know when something has gone wrong.

    I am a construction professional with 30 years experience. I hold a NYC Construction Superintendents license.

    My observations:
    1. The gravel was not washed or screened before it was placed. Screening removes all the pieces larger and smaller then a determined size. This prevents big pieces causing bumps and too many small pieces causing uneven patches. Washing removes all the dust. Dust prevents the gravel from properly adhering to the bitumen layer.
    2. The gravel was not broadcast evenly over the surface leaving areas under coated. Many bald patches are already evident.
    3. The bitumen (sticky black stuff) layer was not evenly applied. Ridges are evident.

    It appears the installation was not done properly. Not surprising, this type of botched work happens all the time; due to the prevalent malaise of interference towards doing ones job properly or caring about anyone else…

    The surface should be very smooth as any increase in roughness increases rolling resistance. In my opinion the best surface would be one invented by the Romans over 2000 years ago, Concrete, it can be nice light color, is virtually maintenance free and extremely durable. That is why most sidewalks are made out of it…

  • XYZ

    I say lets tear this park down and erect some 70 story high projects buildings on there. The space not being used for the buildings should become parking spot as we dont have enough for residents of Brooklyn Heights.

    That should satisfy everyone. We dont need a park. That is pure luxury.

  • bkre

    Eddy’s third point is right on – the sticky black stuff was not evenly applied and ridges are evident. But his second point is way off. The stone was broadcast in a very thick layer over the whole path. After giving it several weeks to embed in the bitumen, it was swept off. I don’t know why the stone succesfully embedded in some places bt not in others, but it’s not for lack of stone.

    Concrete would be wonderful, as it’s smooth and very durable. But it’s also waaay more expensive than chipseal, and as a construction professional, you should know that that’s an important factor that you’ve conveniently overlooked.

  • bkre

    I have to admit that I’m a little confused what TK’s argument is at this point. Unlike Disability Advocate, TK is not wrongly saying that this surface is illegal, because he admits that possible to ride a wheel chair on it. What I think he’s saying (and correct me if I’m wrong TK) is that asphalt would have been better from an wheelchair perspective and he doesn’t understand what the benefit of the chipseal is. If that’s the argument the I’d like to point out that the benefit is aesthetic. The park designers thought it would look better than asphalt. Period. Several design choices were made because of aesthetic reasons that are less than optimal regarding wheelchair access: changes in elevation, curvy paths, etc. And it’s not only in this park. As long as they meet minimum standards for accessibility, designers all over the city (and world) make choices that place aesthetics over access. Why are you focusing on this one?

  • Eddy de Laurot

    @ bkre My second point is “not way off” the stones are obviously as you say “successfully embedded in some places but not in others” Perhaps I should explain my point a bit better: Yes the stone was applied in a thick layer but the size of the stones in mixture were not distributed evenly. When working with a mixture of crushed rock such as what was used; it is very important to transport and handle it in such a manner that it does not separate into layers of different sizes. Vibration will cause the smaller pieces to settle to the bottom and lager pieces to migrate towards the top of the pile (such as being transported in a truck). If the mixture has separated and spread the results will be uneven.
    It does not matter how thick a layer is applied the first material to hit the surface is the stuff that will stick not the stuff on top. Of course it also relates back to my first point “The gravel was not washed or screened before it was placed”

    Also: concrete would not be “way more expensive”, it may even be cheaper, especially when you consider its longevity and maintenance free.

  • Eddy de Laurot

    @ bkre, One of the fundamental rules of design is “form follows function” the item should function perfectly before it looks good. In this case, the path should be easy to walk on, roll on and be easy to clean. A public place should be built to be enjoyed by all, regardless of physical ability. There is no excuse, just be cause the stone “looks good” (which it doesn’t in my opinion) does not mean a compromise should be made on its functionality.

  • bkre

    Read my post again. I did not say that it was ok to compromise functionality. I have biked, walked and pushed a stroller on this surface it functions perfectly well for those activities. All I’m saying is that if everyone always wanted to make access as easy as possible for everything then there would never be any rolling hills, never any steps, etc.

  • http://www.ada.gov Disability Advocate

    Here’s the complaint form for an ADA violationin NYC Parks: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dpr/html/ada_complaint_form.html