East River State Park Closing for Winter;
State Budget Cuts to Blame
Waterfront access on Williamsburg's Northside will get worse before it gets better. Today's New York Post reports that the park gates will be locked from January through March "as part of Governor Paterson's sweeping budget cuts".
The short article manages to work in a "hipster sunbathers" reference as well as a quote from an NYC parks watchdog group saying "closing a park is unheard of in modern times".
This announcement makes us particularly bitter, as the notion of improved waterfront access was touted as the single real giveback to neighborhood residents when politicians and developers were promoting the 2005 rezoning plan. In exchange for living with years of noisy, dirty construction; a hundred-foot high wall of buildings blocking waterfront views; soaring rental prices; and a permanent increase in traffic and subway congestion, a spectacular new waterfront promenade would provide unprecedented neighborhood access to the East River.
After three years, we've received all the downside, and none of the upside in the form of the promised waterfront promenade. The North 5th Street pier - part of Toll Brothers Northside Piers complex - has been complete for seven months and handed over to the Parks Department, but remains off-limits while city attorneys dawdle over paperwork.
Now the State Park (although not officially a part of the rezone) will be closed for a quarter of the year - effectively sealing the waterfront from Grand Ferry Park at Grand Street for twenty five blocks to the barricaded end of Java Street - that's 1.2 continuous miles of East River frontage suddenly off-limits to residents.
We understand the state is in a fiscal crisis. But we never understood to begin with why the State Park needs to have a locked gate and payrolled park rangers, when most city parks operate just fine with occasional maintenance. East River State Park doesn't even have furniture (besides a few picnic tables) to vandalize or trees to prune for gosh sakes. Open the damn gates and send one of your State Parks cars by every few hours. Consolidate the rangers with the ones watching Brooklyn Bridge park in DUMBO. Bam! Budget problem solved!
W'Burg Park Budget Victim [NY Post]