The park, which will innovatively transform a relatively unworkable industrial space for a small amount of money, will provide Greenpoint residents with a new way to appreciate their neighborhood and will be the first step in a more open and community friendly waterfront.
The new park, which is currently known as the India Street Waterfront Park, was long fought for and subject to a variety of specifications that seemed insurmountable. The 30 by 60-square-foot park was subject to the constraints of the very small usable land that was clearly and definitively city-owned, a claim that can only be made about the west end of India Street, as the ownership of Greenpoint’s other waterfronts streets is less clear.
The park was required to fit within the space between the waterfront fencing and a driveway used by a neighboring commercial business, and even with plans to move the driveway back ten or so feet as part of the park’s construction, it still leaves the project with a depth of a little less than 60 feet.
Working on a limited budget, the Parks Department found that the “demapping” process, which would change the portion of India Street from a street into a park, would be cost and time prohibitive, so it was decided that the park could more easily be deemed a “Green Streets” project, which would more easily facilitate the transition from street to park.
Another complication facing the park was the design team’s inability to break the existing pavement, for fear of Department of Environmental Conservation interference and the possibility of expensive remediation.
Rather than dig, the Parks Department designers decided to build up, creating a raised, tiled base to the park that will utilize modular planters and benches to create a recreational space.
The park marks a return for the space’s community usage. Long-time neighborhood residents who came to see the design reminisced about India Street’s former recreational uses as an unofficial swimming, fishing, and boating mecca for kids in the neighborhood.
According to neighbors, the wide industrial street is still used as a makeshift recreational area, with children playing hockey, soccer, and baseball on the little-used, dead end street. Many who turned out for the presentation of plans were pleased with the design, and expected it to increase and improve the existing usage of the block by community residents.
“When we came down here to plan this project, we were always surprised by how many people were on the block,” said Stephanie Thayer, North Brooklyn Director for the Parks Department.
Though the parameters are small, Parks Department designers have made the most of the space. A row of trees along the east end of the park creates a division between the industrial portion of the roadway and the new park. A variety of shrubbery and Evergreen trees will complement a number of planters that will be used for perennial flowers to be planted as part of a community gardening effort.
Six eight-foot-long benches will provide ample viewing space for the park’s stunning views of Manhattan and Williamsburg, and while there won’t be waterfront access at the park due to the dangerously steep drop from the street to the water, the razor-wire-topped chain link fences will be removed. They will be replaced with several smaller fences that will offer greater visibility while still keeping park-goers from getting too close to the river.
The park is expected to be complete by summer 2009.