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The board of directors of Empire State Development Corporation gave final approval to the General Project Plan (GPP) for Brooklyn Bridge Park. Our ultimate goal is to provide people with valuable open space, with no more development than absolutely necessary and to ensure that the Park is self-sustaining, said the chair Charles Gargano, of the Empire State Development Corporation in a statement. Construction is due to start in 2007, with Brooklyn Bridge Plaza, which is due to open in 2009. Some 85 percent of the park will be completed by 2010. The park will run 1.3 miles along the water front from Atlantic Avenue to the north of the Manhattan Bridge. It is a huge victory of the community groups, civic associations and individuals to get to where we are today, said Virginia Terry, communications director, of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. It shouldnt be this hard, but we got here. Although this ends the formal public review there are significant question marks hanging over the height and bulk of development that will be included in the park. The draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and General Project Plan was adopted, in July 2005. Comments were received at a marathon single hearing on September 19, 2005, and written testimony was received during the subsequent public comment period between then and November 2, 2005 The park designers responded to suggestions and sometimes acrimonious criticism from the public and politicians, and redesigned some aspects of the park layout and buildings. For example they created three alternatives for a cluster of residential housing at the west end of Atlantic Avenue: The original proposal, which envisioned a 30-story tower adjacent to an eight story tower was widely criticized for the height of the tower and narrow gateway for access to the park; the second sees a 30-story tower next to a higher 15-foot tower with a reduced foot print to allow a wider and substantially more welcoming entrance; and the third option would create two 20-story towers rising just to the height of an existing building at 360 Furman Street, with a wider entrance. All three plans are still on the table. The BBPDC/ESDC will decide which one to opt once they have analyzed the developers suggestions after a bid process known as a Request for Proposal. While park planners say that around one tenth of the park will be developed, the exact size and quantity of some buildings will in part be determined by the real estate market at the time. However, the outer limits must comply with the Environmental Impact Statement, planners say. Officials say they are committed to the minimum development possible to pay for the $15.2 million annual maintenance budget, which the BBPDC/ESDC calculates is needed to pay for the park. A significant portion of revenues needed will come from charges to developers and occupants of more than 1,200 units of housing and 200 hotel rooms. Revenue will also come from other development in the park. This includes 326,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and cafes. There will also be 215,000 square feet of office and showroom space, and more than 1,100 parking spaces According to development corporation statements, the current expanded recreational activities that will be offered at the park include a bicycle path; two large playing fields for soccer, field hockey, softball, cricket and football; three basketball courts; ten handball courts, two volleyball courts; an in-line hockey rink; three tennis courts; and three playgrounds. Landscaping also includes plazas, hills that dampen noise from the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, and marshland, open lawns, and beach areas. The park also includes canals, boardwalks, floating walkways that connect the piers. Some of the walkways that will stretch between the piers will help create a 12-acre calm-water area for paddling and boating. The park will also have fishing piers . The plans also envision a self-financing marina that would be built, providing an operator is found. Again in response to public comment, the plan now includes new proposals for wider entrances at D.U.M.B.O., and at Old Fulton Street. Governor George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed in 2002, pledging $150 million between them. The capital construction budget is $130 million. An additional 30-day comment period, which ended January 17 on the Final Environmental Impact Statement, was included after the development corporations certified the project plan in December 2005. The plan will now go before the three-person Public Authorities Control Board, staffed by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Governor George Pataki for approval before title can be transferred to the BBPDC/ESDC. Ownership of the areas under the control of the Port Authority will then be transferred to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development We have a continued role in a number of areas including making sure the park is protected in perpetuity at the time of title transfer, said Terry.
©2006 Community Newspaper Group
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