Park advocates are organizing against a proposed “fishbowl” lobby for a new residential development near Transmitter Park in Greenpoint.
The Friends of Transmitter Park group voiced opposition to the changes at 13-15 Greenpoint Avenue, which borders the park’s eastern side. Its developer, BNS Real Estate, wants to have the building’s entrance directly facing the park.
For Konstancja Maleszynska, Greenpoint parks project coordinator for the Open Space Alliance (OSA), the fear is changing how the park is used, looks and feels.
“The overarching concern is the layout of the lot,” she said. “The development will share a lot line with the park and no intervening street or sidewalk.
“When you think about it, you’d be hard-pressed to find another park that shares a border with a building,” she added.
The lot next to Transmitter Park is currently zoned residential, meaning the developer can build as-of-right without community approval. Its first design wanted two slimmer towers, one at 14 stories and the other at seven stories.
The new proposed design, if approved, would only be 11 stories, but would be wider. It would also have windows facing the park and an “extended elevated portico” extending along the wall, Maleszynska said.
She said the lobby would make it look “as if the park were its front lawn or yard.”
“That blurring of the private-public space is very concerning to us,” Maleszynska said. “It’s a loss of privacy for park goers. Many people don’t feel comfortable with losing the border there.”
Last Tuesday, Community Board 1 voted against the rezoning. Next month, the borough president’s office will also vote on the proposed changes, though both votes are advisory and nonbinding.
At the public meeting, Maleszynska said park advocates presented a list of modifications that the developer should consider. Instead of a fishbowl lobby entrance, Maleszynska said they wanted a 13-foot barrier with some greenery to separate the two entities.
While the Friends of Transmitter Park group has not been approached by developers to work out an agreement, Maleszynska said she hopes BNS Real Estate heard their suggestions.
“We’re hoping for a conversation to happen at some point between us and them,” she said.
Maleszynska said advocates understand that developments are coming and that they’re “a fact of life.” But she said in this neighborhood, which lacks open space, protecting existing parkland is important.
“This is not a generic protest against any development, this is a very specific situation in which a community that has two parks tends to lose some of the quality of that green space that provides a respite,” Maleszynska said. “That’s why we want to preserve the quality of the green space that we have, which is really young and new. It stands to serve residents for hundreds of years to come.”
She said the fight isn’t one between old and new residents, rather parks are democratic spaces everyone is welcome to enjoy.
“It’s not to say that older residents have more rights than newer residents to use the park,” Maleszynska said. “It’s just that everybody will suffer if the park loses its current status and condition.”
Next steps include a meeting with Councilman Stephen Levin, and Maleszynska said the group hopes to find out more about the possible impact of the new design.
“We hope for it to be a world-class park that everybody does come to visit,” she said, “but that it doesn’t become a front lawn for development.”