Last Monday, North Brooklyn Neighbors, an environmental advocacy group seeking to make the area more equitable, resilient and sustainable, penned a letter to Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver asking the agency to open 50 Kent, a 1.8-acre green space that’s part of the larger Bushwick Inlet Park.
Since 2019, 50 Kent, located between North 11th and North 12th streets, has been used as a pop-up space on the weekends while the park is in development. Neighbors have used the lawn, picnic tables and seating areas for games, yoga, performances, movie nights and other celebrations.
But in its letter to the Parks Department, North Brooklyn Neighbors executive director Anthony Buissereth wrote that north Brooklyn has waited 15 years, yet the park is “not close to being completed.”
“How much longer must we wait?” he wrote. “The city’s foot dragging on the project essentially amounts to negligence.”
Buissereth noted that while the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the city’s budget, city officials have an obligation to make social distancing safe and accessible for New Yorkers.
“Opening an underused green space is a no-brainer when our goal is to stop the spread,” he wrote. “We’re counting on our city’s leadership to think differently about how we successfully get through this moment, and opening 50 Kent is one important step in ensuring we have the open space we need.”
Accompanying the letter from North Brooklyn Neighbors is a Change.org petition with 410 signatures demanding that the community Park at 50 Kent be opened immediately.
The petition notes that the 1.8-acre green space could hold over 500 social distancing circles, which have become popular at Williamsburg’s Domino Park during the pandemic.
“As we enter the heat of the summer, this situation cannot be allowed to continue,” the petition reads. “Our community is desperate for public green space where they can safely social distance.”
Less than 24 hours after the petition launched, the Parks Department announced that 50 Kent will open Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting on July 9.
According to the group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, the space will be for passive use only, and will prohibit dogs or sports.
Buissereth responded in a follow-up letter that the July opening is “not enough” and “can be strengthened.”
North Brooklyn Neighbors’ preference is that the park be open seven days a week, he wrote. The group also believes that closing at 6 p.m. is too early during summer months, since sunset is not until after 8 p.m.
“The early closure severely limits park usage in this unshaded space to the hottest time of day,” Buissereth wrote. “The limited open time creates unnecessary confusion and conflict with residents and parkgoers.
“Most city parks are open during daylight hours,” he added. “Why not do the same here?”