After months of negotiations state lawmakers and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the deal March 10. It came with a $55 million funding commitment from the city and gives Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblywoman Joan Millman veto power over housing plans for the park, a major point of contention, while changing some key design elements.
Squadron hailed the agreement as a “great victory for the community and the city,” and said the city takeover will ensure the park will be completed. “We get a commitment to complete the park, a path to find alternatives to housing, and increased year-round amenities.”
The park was previously managed by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, a state entity. Responsibility now shifts to a new, not-for-profit operator with a 17-member board of state, city and community appointees.
The agreement contains many elements of an alternative plan put forth by Squadron in 2008, including commitments to year-round recreational facilities, such as an ice skating rink and rooftop tennis courts, a ferry service from the park to Governor's Island, and an annual audit of the park's finances.
Most notably, it changes housing plans for the waterfront public space, which comes with a $16 million annual self-maintenance cost. It appears that figure won't change, but how its paid for could. The state planned to build housing at the park's John Street site and on Pier 6 to help pay for its upkeep, something Squadron opposed alongside other elected officials and community leaders.
Now housing there could be nixed, given Squadron and Millman's veto authority. Millman made that much clear, saying “I fully support a public process to discover alternatives to housing as a means to fund park operations.”
Piers 1 and 6 at the park are set to open this spring, following several delays. The 85-acre, 1.7-mile park will stretch from Atlantic Avenue to John Street.