Homeslices, there’s a new park in Greenpoint.
Completed in August and inaugurated with little fanfare by Mayor Bloomberg, Transmitter Park (named after the space’s previous tenant, the radio station WNYC) is the latest multi-million dollar renovation on the northern Brooklyn waterfront.
The park is located at the end of Greenpoint Ave and framed on either side by Greenpoint’s signature decrepit – yet still functional – warehouses in which industrial produce haulers, bus companies, artists, and the mythical carpenter/maker types of hipsterdom work together under dirty skylights made of wire-reinforced glass.
Amidst the foul smells and grime, Transmitter Park serves as a green oasis for lunchtime grassy retreats, stroller moms, and the odd jogger or cyclist. Visitors can enjoy the Manhattan panorama, which encompasses both the venerable Empire State Building and the mountainous Freedom Tower, from benches sufficiently spaced out so as to give their sitters an ample sense of quietude and isolation.
In terms of parks in Pointe Verde and Villa Guillermo, Transmitter Park is easily the least crowded and most pacific, simply by virtue of the fact that it is so far up and so new that most park-goers either don’t know about it or live too far south to benefit.
Not that the designers don’t deserve credit. They managed to take a small space in an ugly part of town, and transform it into a pretty park that feels much larger than it actually is. The layout comprises a semicircular path that wraps around a well-kept lawn, from which smaller paths diverge into areas with different types of plants and grasses. Children will be happy to find a brand new playground, and water fountains. Fishing is allowed… although I still don’t understand why anyone would want to bring to the surface any creature that swims in the East River. There are also showers, but we don’t have to talk about those.
Jutting inward from the East River is a small bay that serves as wetlands in which you are permitted and even encouraged to take a gander. If sea grass is of interest to you, then Transmitter Park will not disappoint.
The serenity with which the space seems imbued seems a far cry from the anger it inspired earlier this year when residents noticed that the work site had been sitting idle for nearly six months. To passersby, the park looked complete, but the city insisted that finishing touches were still lacking and postponed the opening until these could be addressed. Local politicians leaped at the opportunity to pull out their soapboxes, in particular the 28 year-old Democratic upstart Lincoln Restler who made his name in Brooklyn politics by calling out Bloomberg on the latter’s failure to provide the 30 acres of parkland promised to North Brooklyn when the mayor rezoned the area to allow for condos on the Williamsburg waterfront.
To date two of the park projects remain in a cash-poor quagmire: the Bushwick Inlet Park (a small portion of which is finished and accessible at the end of N 9th st) and the Commercial Street Park (work on which has yet to even start). So far, the city does not even own all the land upon which it plans to build these parks.
Officials are naming the usual culprits: environmental concerns, rising real estate prices, the MTA… the real New York City experience.
The greatest of these seems to the real estate prices, which are requiring that the city pour in much more cash than it had previously anticipated. After all, the promise for more parks dates back seven years when property in once-gritty North Brooklyn was considerably cheaper. Unsurprisingly, public officials failed to realize that allowing richer people access to Williamsburg by ushering in condos would send real estate prices skyrocketing.
So far the city has spent around $200 million to buy 14 acres. It needs approximately another $200 million to purchase the rest… and that would only finish the Bushwick Inlet Park. The Commercial Street Park fiasco is the product of politicians promising land that is already in use. To start work on that park would require that the MTA move its emergency response unit as well as its paratransit operators to another site… and if your subway line has ever been under renovation, you know what a boondoggle that’s likely to be.
Fellow Greenpointers: enjoy Transmitter Park. Respect it. Take care of it.
It just might the only green grass we’ll be seeing up here in a long, long while.
Photo Credit: NYC Parks