The City Club has joined with Friends of Fort Greene Park, the Sierra Club, and Brooklyn neighbors in filing a petition with the New York State Supreme Court to stop the redesign of the historic park and demand that an Environmental Impact Study be done.
As part of the Parks Without Borders program the NYC Parks Department re-boot includes reconstructing of the park paths, staircases, entrances, drainage, and grading at Fort Greene Park and the oval plaza, lower plaza and sidewalk along Myrtle Avenue and staircases at St. Edwards Street and Willoughby Street and at DeKalb Avenue and Washington Park. The work will include pavement, drainage and handrail reconstruction, and new plantings, water features, lighting, seating, barbecues, and adult fitness equipment. via NYC Parks.
The work was classified as a Type II project, which allowed them to forego an environmental study. According to the petition filed “… Type II actions are those actions that are specifically listed in the regulations, and that are of such minor impact, that no further action under SEQRA needs to be undertaken. For example, maintenance or repair involving no substantial changes in an existing structure or facility would be considered a Type II action.”
But this belies the actual scope of the work proposed that would demolish landscape architect A E Bye’s cobblestone and grass mounds to create a wide tree-lined cement boulevard. And then, there are the trees. 52 mature trees to be removed at the corner. Additionally, 31 trees would be removed for a drainage project near the park. There are other trees at risk from extreme pruning and lengthy construction. “The department states that in keeping with their tree restitution plan, 80 trees would be planted in and around Fort Greene Park.” via The Architect’s Newspaper
The City Club first worked with the Friends of Fort Greene Park when a FOIL request to obtain a copy of the Parks Department report including the quantity, quality and reason for tree removal. That report was heavily redacted and it was necessary to go to court to obtain an un-redacted version.
The report revealed discrepancies between initial reporting of invasive trees and those deemed in ill health and contradictions between Park’s own recommendations and the proposed design.
While no one disputes Fort Greene Park needs restoration, turning softscapes into hardscapes does seem counterintuitive for the Parks Department, especially these days.
The hearing in the NYS Supreme Court for this petition will be September 10, 2019.
NYC ‘Parks Without Borders’ program draws controversy
By KENDRA HURLEY October 15, 2019
A group of Brooklyn activists have been telling the media, elected officials, and most recently a Manhattan judge that their borough’s beloved Fort Greene Park… read article from City & State New York