March 20, 2008

A Big Day for Williamsburg & Greenpoint


After seven and a half years, the state siting board has finally put the last nail in the TGE coffin. The board voted today to deny TGE's application to build an 1,100 megawatt power plant at the Bushwick Inlet. The ruling is significant in that it allows to City to move forward with acquiring the property (formerly the Bayside Fuel Oil site) and turning it into public parkland. For a neighborhood that ranks near the bottom in terms of open space per capita (and with our capita growing much faster than our open space), this is a momentous decision indeed.

Congratulations and thanks are in order for everyone who fought this project - in particular Assemblyman Joe Lentol, GWAPP, NBA and OSA and all the volunteers who trekked to Albany and fought this project every step of the way.

With any luck, we will soon have green open space, ball fields and maybe even a waterfront concert venue on the Bushwick Inlet.

UPDATE: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle has an article up on the victory, including details on the siting board's findings.

March 25, 2008

Street Trees

The City Planning Commission has approved a zoning resolution that would require one new street tree for every 25' of street frontage on new developments and large rehabs. CPC estimates that this measure will result in 10,000 new trees being planted. Williamsburg and (ironically) Greenpoint have among the lowest levels of street trees (or any trees, for that matter) per capita, so hopefully at least half those new trees are headed here.

Street Trees Are No Longer an Optional Accessory [NYT]

April 8, 2008

Greenway Vote Tonight

Proposed view of Flushing Avenue, with Greenway installed.

Community Board #1 will be voting this evening on a proposal to put a Greenway along Kent Avenue and West Street in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. This plan, part of the larger Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, would establish a protected bike and walking path along these streets, providing easy access to the planned waterfront esplanades and parks along the East River. To the south, much of the Greenway would run along the waterfront.

As Teresa Toro, a strong advocate for the plan (and sane transportation policy in general) points out, this more than just a bike lane:

...a greenway is not the same as a bike lane, although it has a bike lane element... The greenway will provide a safe, designated walking lane for people who wish to take a nice walk; it will provide critical traffic calming along Kent Avenue, which is also a truck route (and will also provide critical air quality mitigation -- also important because of the truck route). It is more of a linear park, than a bike lane; and the green/planting and walking elements make it all a genuine benefit to the community.

The Greenway will also bring hundreds of new trees to the neighborhood. And we will not lose parking spaces as a result - the car parking that would be displaced by the greenway plan has been replaced elsewhere, and DOT is moving right now to make those parking spaces available now.

When: 8 April 2008, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Swingin' 60's Senior Center, 211 Ainslie Street (corner of Manhattan)

April 9, 2008

Greenway Update

An update on CB 1's Greenway Initiative vote this evening - APPROVED!. Congratulations and thanks to all of the people who came out tonight (and over the past two months) to support this project.

April 14, 2008

Thursday: Push for Parks

GWAPP is sponsoring a Push for Parks status meeting on Thursday, 17 April.

From the inbox:

"Find out what’s been happening with the newly formed parks groups and find out how you can get improvements on a park near you.

Updates on:
Million Tree Project
Barge Park
Cooper Park
India Street End
Greenpoint Ave/Transmitter Park
UFMP (United Friends of McCarren Park)
Bushwick Inlet Park
State Park
And much much more…

April 17th
WARSAW (aka Polish National Home – 261 Driggs Ave)"

April 22, 2008

TGE to Appeal

Last weekend, the Williamsburg/Greenpoint community celebrated the rejection of the proposed TGE Bushwick Inlet power plant. Not surprisingly, last week, TGE announced that it plans to appeal the siting board decision. Our sources tell us that the siting board's decision is pretty definitive, but that doesn't mean Adam Victor of TGE can't keep his project alive in the courts a while longer.

May 13, 2008

Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park to Meet


GWAPP (Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning) has been rolling out a series of "Friends of..." groups - mini-advocacy groups for specific parks in Greenpoint. This is a great way to bring grass-roots advocacy down to the neighborhood park level, all the while with the backing of a large and experienced organization. We'll let GWAPP explain further:

The best way to get the parks we deserve is through persistent community attention to each park. GWAPP (Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks & Planning) is helping kickstart a big (and sustained) Push for Parks all across our North Brooklyn neighborhoods to create, support and unite park-specific Friends Groups. The purpose of these groups will be to gather information about the way the community uses the parks, the issues and needs of each park and to establish a community representatives for each park, who persistently push for improvements – whether from the city, the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn, neighbors, local businesses, grants…

On Wednesday, the first meeting of what, for now, is called the Friends of BIP (Bushwick Inlet Park) will be held at the Gutter Bar. BIP is the new park that was promised during the City’s waterfront rezoning - it will be a 28 acre park straddling the Greenpoint/Williamsburg Waterfront, stretching from the State Park at North 9th Street to the northern side of the Inlet by Meserole Avenue.

As GWAPP says, this park was promised to the community - come help make it a reality.

Who: Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park
When: May 14th at 7 pm
Where: The Gutter Bar
200 N.14th (between Wythe and Berry St)
(Unfortunately no children allowed – against bar policy)

September 1, 2008

McCarren Pool Update

Photo: Zach K

On Tuesday, 9 September, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will be holding a public hearing on the plans to renovate the McCarren Park pool. Until then, here is some recent background on the pool, the closing and the plans to reopen it, courtesy of the Brooklyn Rail.

September 29, 2008

NAG Town Hall

nag town hall2.jpg

NAG (Neighbors Allied for Good Growth), a community organizing group in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, is having a Town Hall Meeting on 10/2 to mobilize the community on issues facing Greenpoint & Williamsburg. Longtimers will remember NAG as one of the leading voices against waste transfer stations on the waterfront, against Radiac, and for intelligent rezoning that protects jobs and housing. As NAG looks to the future, it is holding this meeting to take the pulse of the community and to identify the issues the community will organize around in the coming years.

The Town Hall will take place at the Holy Ghost Hall, 159 North 5th St (between Bedford and Driggs) on Thursday, 2 October at 7:00.

December 7, 2008

Monday 8 December: Bushwick Inlet Park

Bushwick Inlet Park: proposed plan (via GL)

From the Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park:

Come learn about your neighborhood's future 28 acre waterfront park & get updates on progress

Bushwick Inlet Park will stretch along Kent Avenue from N. 9th Street to Quay Street

Get involved now to ensure your park is built and learn how you can be a steward for it once it's here

We will be brainstorming ideas, forming committees, and setting short and long term goals for the park and friends group

Lend a hand - if you have a skill we probably need it!

Artists, graphic designers, park lovers, neighborhood residents, writers, creative minds, community organizers and more!

When: Monday December 8, 2008 @ 7pm
Where: 136 Milton Street (Greenpoint Reformed Church) between Manhattan Ave and Franklin Ave

January 4, 2009

Playground on Kent

Kent playground.jpg
"Waterfront basketball--A spacious Park Department playground on Kent Ave. at the foot of Broadway provides ideal athletic facilities in the very shadow of Williamsburg Bridge."
Caption & photo: Brooklyn Public Library

Effective Saturday, East River State Park is closed for the season. State Parks had been saying they were going to do it, but there was some hope that a deal might be reached to keep it open. We hear that both Friends of BEDT Park and Assemblyman Lentol are still working to reach a deal that would allow public access to the only significant waterfront open space in all of north Brooklyn. Meanwhile, all of the other state parks in NYC (including Fulton Ferry in Dumbo) remain open.

Coincidentally, we came across this picture while trolling the Brooklyn Public Library's website this evening. Taken in 1950, it shows a former NYC Department of Parks playground on Kent Avenue between Broadway and South Sixth Street. The site is now home to a city DOT facility. Even more coincidentally, this is the exact same location that OSA and others have proposed DOT turn over to Parks in order to create additional waterfront open space. If it ever came to pass, it would provide a nice terminus to the proposed Domino espanade.

February 9, 2009

Building Brooklyn

Every year, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce sponsors a Building Brooklyn Award for the best architecture of the borough. And every year, Bushwick, Greenpoint and Williamsnburg come up short. Since the nominations are due on Thursday, we'd thought we'd throw out a few of the projects that we think are award worthy (and a few that are clearly not worthy).

First, their rules. To be eligible, a project must be completed and have received a CO or TCO in calendar 2008. Now our rules. We're looking at projects in North Brooklyn only. The BB categories are a little bit wacky (do we really need two categories for residential buildings under 5 families - that's so 20th-century Brooklyn?). So we've added a few of our own.

1. Adaptive Use and Historic Preservation

Photo: Brownstoner

The Mill Building (85 - 101 North 3rd Street)
Fifield Piaker Elman Architects

A luxury loft in Williamsburg that is actually a loft. Not everything here is to the highest preservation standards, but the conversion of this former factory at North 3rd and Wythe has celebrated the historic architecture and the history of the neighborhood. And it looks great.

The building itself was constructed for the Hinds & Ketcham lithography company in two parts. The mid-block portion was completed before 1898, the corner piece (directly across from Relish) after 1898.

Photo: Brownstoner

Not nominated:
118 Greenpoint Avenue
Scarano Architect

This one was designed to the highest preservation standards - those of the NYC Landmarks Commission - but the results are underwhelming to say the least. None of it rises to the level of the unregulated Mill Building. This project would have passed unnoticed, though, were it not for the cornice, which looks like someone installed a crown molding on the face of a factory.


Special liars award:
Brooklyn Rapid Transit Power Plant
500 Kent Avenue
Con Edison, owner

The building is pretty much gone by now, but less than a year ago it was an intact structure. At that time, local blogger INSIJS did an in-depth article on the fate of the building. Everyone, including workers on site, said the building was coming down. When asked it that was true, a Con Ed spokesperson said that they were only doing some "spring cleaning". Spring cleaning that clearly required removing every brick and sending it very far away to be cleaned.

Landmarks looked at this property in 2007, but refused to hold a hearing to designate. This despite the fact that that the community had identified the building as a significant resource over a decade ago. The State Historic Preservation Office did determine that the building is (or was) eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

As for the future, Con Ed has no plans for the site. Or at least that's what they say.

Have buildings that you think should be included (or excluded) in the BB awards? Email us at wpa [at]

February 11, 2009

McCarren Pool Update

Proposed Design for New Cabanas
Photo: Rogers Marvel Architects via Gowanus Lounge

The Parks Department was at CB1 last night with an update on the McCarren Pool renovation. The good news is that the funding (all $50 million) has not been cut. The bad news is that $50 million does not buy what it bought three years ago. As a result, the diving pool has been value engineered out of the project. In its place, there will be a beach volleyball court. The potential silver lining is that the diving pool could be done in the future, and the infrastructure (piping, mainly) will be run now to help make that happen.

But the real silver lining is that larger project is going forward, and is still on course for a 2010 opening.

Gowanus Lounge has all the photos, and a lengthy report from Mikki Halpin of Pool Aid (and WPA).

February 13, 2009

North Brooklyn Public Art Coalition

At last week's CB1 meeting, Councilmember Yassky's office announced a new public art initiative. The initiative is a response to the rather woeful lack of public art (and opportunities for public art) in a neighborhood of artists. Organized in conjunction with the Open Space Alliance, the North Brooklyn Public Art Coalition "will be comprised of members of the local arts community, with a mission of scouting out ideal locations for public art in North Brooklyn, actively seeking out partnerships and funding for public art in this area, and keeping its members apprised of all public art opportunities."

The coalition will hold a special meeting about Public Art in North Brooklyn on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009, at the Brooklyn Brewery, 79 N.11th St. (between Wythe Ave. and Berry St.) in Williamsburg at 6:30pm. The meeting will include presentations by public arts organizations that are currently offering opportunities to Greenpoint/Williamsburg artists.

For more information, contact Rami Metal in CM Yassky's office - (718) 875-5200x14 or rmetal [at]

March 19, 2009

Guerilla Gardening


In an effort to beautify the growing developer blight in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, NAG's Open Space working group is starting a Guerilla Gardening campaign. On Saturday the Open Space working group will hold a workshop to create seed balls, a land reclamation strategy for derelict, neglected and abandoned land. Volunteers are invited to help the group construct the seed balls on Saturday, March 21st. The following Saturday, March 28th, the seed balls will be distributed and cast into abandoned lots and neglected patches of land all over North Brooklyn at the participants discretion.

Date: Saturday, March 21, 2009
Time: 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Location: NAG Office
Street: 101 Kent Street at North 8th
Contact: openspace [at]

April 21, 2009

Get Involved: OSA on the Southside and Greenpoint Hospital


Two events of note are happening on Wednesday (April 22):

First, Councilmember Diana Reyna, Esteban Duran & the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn are sponsoring & facilitating a community forum on North Brooklyn's open spaces, parks & neighborhoods. The event (celebrating Earth Day) will take place at El Puente, 211 South 4th Street (@ Roebling) in Williamsburg, at 6:30 p.m., and is open to the public.

Second, Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corporation (GREC) is hosting a meeting about the status (and state) of the Greenpoint Hospital. The City issued an RFP two years ago to redevelop a portion of this historic site. A number of proposals were submitted, but to date, no action has been taken. HPD will be at the meeting to give an update on the status of the RFP process and to answer community questions. Also at 6:30, at the Swingin' Sixties Senior Center, 211 Ainslie Street (corner of Manhattan Avenue).

Eberhard Faber