Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe last week joined Ed Birdie, manager of Public and Governmental Affairs for the New York Power Authority of Southeast New York, and Gerald Esposito, district manager of Community Board 1, and excited residents to cut the ribbon on improvements to Grand Ferry Park in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.
“We are pleased to have worked with the New York Power Authority and Community Board 1 to enhance this well-used, small gem of a waterfront park,” said Benepe. “New parks are being planned all along the Williamsburg waterfront, but in the meantime come on down to Grand Ferry Park for a grand view of the East River and four magnificent bridges.”
The improvements to Grand Ferry Park were funded thanks to a $300,000 contribution from the New York Power Authority, as well as an allocation of $262,000 from the city.
The park's landscape was updated with new plantings that show an emphasis on native species of trees, shrubs, and perennials. The park was also reconstructed with new drainage and erosion control, including a large rainwater swale system, concrete headwall, additional riprap, and new asphalt and concrete paths. The path system is now wheelchair accessible.
Originally opened in 1998, Grand Ferry Park's design incorporates elements from the site’s history. A red brick smokestack rising above a circular pattern of cobblestones was part of a molasses plant that Pfizer Pharmaceuticals used in the early 20th century for work that led, eventually, to the large-scale production of penicillin. The cobblestones were salvaged from the section of Grand Street where the park was constructed.
At the water’s edge, a line of boulders, or rip-rap, protects the shoreline from erosion and provides seating with a view across the water to the downtown Manhattan skyline. On one side of the park’s slope, a trench lined with rocks stretches from Grand Street to the water. When storms flood the street, this trench or “swale” serves to direct the storm water runoff into the river.