Last night, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Community Advisory Council held their initial meeting at St. Francis College. The Council was set up to advise the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation as the remaining sections of the park are built, as well as to offer input on the continually thorny issues of park funding and potential condo development within the park boundaries.
Between Council members (representatives of local elected officials, neighborhood associations and community groups), BBPDC staff and members of the public, about 50 people were in attendance.
Much of the meeting was on organizational matters for the Council. Members will serve two year terms; meetings will held bi-monthly, and with more advance notice than the 24 hours notice given for this meeting. Draft bylaws are being circulated for review.
Following opening comments by Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez and Assemblywoman Joan Millman (Councilman Steven Levin and Senator Daniel Squadron arrived and spoke later in the meeting), a briefing was provided on construction status by Regina Myer, head of the BBPDC:
- Restrooms at the Pier 6 uplands have opened
- The first section of the Pier 6, including landscaping and volleyball courts will open in the Spring.
- Work is continuing on Pier 5, including underwater repairs of the pilings; landscaping will begin next year, to open in 2012.
- Reconstruction of Empire-Fulton Ferry Park should be done by next summer, including installation of the merry-go-round
- Uplands of piers 3 and 5 should open in the winter 2012-spring 2013 period.
In other park news:
Staff is developing park rules (17- page draft document online)
- park hours 6 am – 1 am
- No skateboarding
- No biking on walking paths
- No dogs on lawn (dog run on pier 6)
- No fishing (a designated fishing area will be built later)
(This led to question about access for political rallies/gatherings and the rights of vendors. BBP is following City park guidelines and court rulings.)
RFP responses for use of the Tobacco Warehouse were due Oct 13 and are being reviewed.
An RFP has been issues for operation of the full restaurant on Pier 6, set to open next summer.
BBPDC has established a Committee on Alternatives to Housing. A Consultant has been secured to assist with review of options to provide alternative funding for park needs. The review process will start shortly, and public hearings will be held in December. A draft report is due in 120 days.
Discussion was held on potential uses of temporary vacant spaces (for example the former warehouse site). BBPDC say they do not have available funding to make use of these spaces.
Concerns were raised about the impact of using chipseal and gravel on the pathways on access to the park for the disables. A request was made to consider switching to alternative materials.
An issue discussed at some length was what the role of the CAC will be, and whether the BBPDC will give its recommendations due consideration. Judi Francis, a CAC member and a leading figure in past opposition to the park funding strategies expressed concern that the recommendations of previous advisory boards had largely been ignored by decision makers. The meeting chair said the plan was for the CAC to brief the BBPDC Board at each of its meetings.
In line with the discussion on the Council role, a motion was introduced and passed to ask the Board to make the responses to the Tobacco Warehouse RFP public. A motion was also passed to add Sandy Balboza, head of the Atlantic Ave betterment association to the CAC
The meeting ended at 8:15 PM. The next meeting is scheduled for January 4, 2010.