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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  • Big Dave

    It would be nice to hear from the park designers as to why the surface was chosen. I expect esthetics and cost were part of it, as well as timing. I’ve seen all the pathways as late as yesterday and I hope Pier 6 isn’t complete, as the chip surface shows where the stones were washed off and the subsurface is appearing through as well. Maybe that’s the look the designers want… Concrete requires alot more prep than asphalt, by the way.

  • Eddy de Laurot

    “for those activities” It should function perfectly for all activities.

    I never implied that there shouldn’t be rolling hills or steps. Those elements are fine as long as there is a path around that can be used by persons less able…

    Also, some don’t seem to agree that it is easy to push a stroller on that surface. Any increase in surface roughness/texture increases rolling resistance. That’s a law of physics not an opinion.

    The “chip seal” may actually not be a bad surface if properly applied but like other items elements in this park it was totally botched.

  • Eddy de Laurot

    @ Big Dave I wasn’t saying concrete was easier or cheaper than asphalt. Nor would I have any objection to an asphalt surface. However, it seems the “chipseal” is quite labor intensive,requiring multiple steps over months/weeks… and given the sloppy installation with the costs of repairing the fouled up areas and possible replacement? Seems like concrete would be cheaper in the end…

  • T.K. Small

    Thank you Disability Advocate for your kind words and acknowledgment. Thank you Eddy de Laurot for your practical and factual support Likewise, thank you Bkre for your inquiry into my arguments.

    At the core of my thinking are themes, rather than arguments. Generally I am interested in Universal design/accessibility, accountability and community engagement. To varying degrees, in each of these areas, the BBP Development Corporation & Conservancy still has a lot of room for improvement. I would like to hear the argument against these important and relevant principles.

    Although I was recently accused of being long-winded, with respect to each of these matters, here are some brief thoughts:

    (1) The population is aging and more people will be experiencing mobility impairments. Unless I am mistaken, we cannot afford and most people do not want to go and live in a nursing home, so we should be creating a “built environment” which addresses these needs. My father is a perfect example and I will try to take him down there soon for his feedback.

    (2) In addition to my legal activities, I cohost a radio show called The Largest Minority which discusses issues within the disability community, ranging from cultural to public policy topics. I try to keep up to date by following what’s going on politically, both locally and around the country. It is obvious that we are in a difficult financial period. States and local governments are absolutely desperate for revenue and it is very troubling when government officials spend money foolishly. Spending $80,000 on stainless steel domes which get so hot that they burn children and send them to the hospital is an example of such foolishness. Shouldn’t someone be accountable for this foreseeable and poor decision?

    (3) Finally, much of the community opposition could have been avoided had they done a better job of reaching out to the public and keeping people informed. Personally, some of my frustrations would have been obviated had I known what was going on and thought that they were listening. The Brooklyn Heights Blog has done far more to advance these considerations than the BBP Development Corporation or Conservancy. Perhaps Homer should contact them for a possible subcontracting opportunity!

    All I am doing is raising legitimate points and I find it very curious that some people take any criticism of the park very personally and as a statement that the park shouldn’t be built. That’s just silly and unproductive.

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

    Karl–Any apologies yet for your original comments?

  • David on Middagh

    The gravel just plain feels good to walk on, and you can’t separate that from its inefficiency. The very shifting, and unevenness of surface, is a relief from the hard bounce-up of concrete, which feels terrible to tired feet and joints.

    I was not too happy with whoever decided to pave over the dirt jogging path in Cadman Plaza Park. The asphalt looks much neater, but…

  • nabeguy

    T.K. I finally went down to the park this weekend with my daughter and we walked the graveled path from Pier one to Pier Six. Whatever your objections are to the park in general, I have to say that this particular one is weak…very weak. I wouldn’t even describe these paths as gravel, as they’re more of a cross between nuggets and dust.

  • Eddy de Laurot

    Nabeguy, do you think the surface is:
    1. attractive?
    2. evenly/properly applied?
    3. durable?
    4. easy to clean/maintain?
    5. as easy to roll on as a smooth surface?

  • T.K. Small

    Nabeguy, I have always thought of you as one of the more reasonable people within our (until recently) happy contingent and I remain so. I am genuinely interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic. I have argued a number of points, so I’m not really certain what his position is “weak”. It might be helpful to include in any response your interpretation of my arguments, because I might be able to clarify something specifically.

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

    Nabeguy-The difficulty perhaps in understanding the “position” or viewpoint is that you’re not viewing the access issue via the correct lens or point of view. Access is a simple word, but it means different things in different contexts, and especially so in the context of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law does not always use the term in the same way, and in fact the same word can have markedly different meanings under different statutes (by way of example, one can be “disabled” under Workers Compensation, but not Social Security Disability, while the same person can have a disablity under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act but not under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Each statute has its own definition and standards, which does not make it easy for a layperson to understand, who may reasonably believe that a word is a word with one understood meaning.

    Here, the paths suggest difficult access to some, but perhaps not all, who have a disability. The lack of forethought is troubling and problematic and T.K. appropriately raised the issue. I gave several links that better, and in greater depth, describe access issues, which my response herein does not do justice to. Sometimes instructions on the law, such as in a jury trial, can be very enlightening because it takes otherwise meaningless facts and imbues them with legal importance once the basic standards of accessability are set forth.

  • http://deleted anon

    The bottom line: The community has been left out of the process since the community’s well thought out and celebrated plan (2001 – the plan that got the park’s funding in the first place) was ditched in favor of housing. The main recreational feature – biking – is now compromised by a surface that is bad for bikers, bad for strollers and questionable even for walkers. That people with disabilities can’t get to the park safely (note earlier blogs on the dangers of crossing the BQE entrances, etc) let alone attempt to navigate its paths once inside is both shameful as well as illegal. So when citizens’ voices are shuttered, told they are whinners, told they must really not want a park, pilloried by the apologists like Karl, they just shut up. But the good news is that all the surrounding community organizations (with one exception, the BHA) have called for a review of the General Project Plan. They have demanded a Community Advisory Committee. They know the park can be maintained without more housing. But still, resident attempts to make this a true park have been ignored. The BBPDC knows better than the citizens do. Wonder what would happen if this were truly a Parks Dept Park rather than a housing/”civic project” run by a state and now city authority?