On October 25, nearly 80 park lovers from across Greenpoint and Williamsburg showed up at the McCarren Play Center to hear updates and plans from OSA staff and its partners and meet members of the OSA board. The attendees had lots of questions and feedback. Some of the highlights of the town hall meeting are listed below.
Q&A with Renowned Parks Expert Tupper Thomas
The meeting kicked off with a Q&A with Tupper Thomas, the outgoing executive director of New Yorkers for Parks. Thomas was chief administrator of Prospect Park for 31 years and founding president of the Prospect Park Alliance for 23 years. In answering questions from the moderator and the audience, Tupper emphasized a few themes:
- OSA remains too small for its mandate and needs to grow significantly if it is to be effective. It must have a core team of employees, including, for example, a full-time development staffer, if it is to raise sufficient funds to carry out its extraordinarily broad but important mission.
- The need for OSA to begin to raise $1 to $2 million annually. If OSA continues to raise $300 to $400 thousand per year, it is not only impossible for OSA to carry out sufficient maintenance and activation activities across the parks and playgrounds of Community Board 1 – current and potential funders won’t take such a small organization seriously.
- While the size and scope of OSA’s mission is challenging, OSA helps to unite a diverse neighborhood and has initiated and continues to support a number of important parks groups and programs.
Greenpoint Parks Stewardship Program (GPSP)
Konstancja Maleszyńska reported on a host of park activation and maintenance events in the six short months she has led the Greenpoint Parks Stewardship Program (GPSP). At 9-acre McGolrick Park, the largest park in Greenpoint, the GPSP implemented Saturday Sweeps, a monthly clean-up that has been taking place on the second Saturday of each month, native plant gardening events and cultural events, including a concert in the park in August. The GPSP has supported ongoing programming of McGolrick Park Neighborhood Alliance (MPNA), including movie nights during the summer. At Transmitter Park, GPSP has held or co-sponsored gardening events, a river clean-up, and a ‘water day’ to learn about the East River for teens from underserved parts of South Williamsburg who do not live near the water. At American Playground, the GPSP held Neighborhood Play Day on September 26, 2016. The event included a learn-to-ride-a-bike program, storytime, music and face painting for young children, as well as free ice cream. In addition to GCEF, partners for the event included NYC Parks, Bike NY, GreeNYC, the Brooklyn Public Library, and Word, a bookstore across the street from the playground. At Greenpoint Playground, GPSP created a pumpkin patch celebrating Hallloween on October 26. GPSP is primarily underwritten by a two-year grant from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund (GCEF). GPSP was launched in April 2016.
Bushwick Inlet Park
City and Owner of CitiStorage Site Continue to Negotiate
After months of negotiations, the de Blasio administration and the owner of the CitiStorage property may be near a deal, according to Joe Lentol who spoke briefly at the meeting. Lentol reported that the City has twice increased its offer after the initial bid of $100 million.
Activating the Current Park
Katherine Thompson of the Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park (FBIP) spoke about the group’s plans to increase health and wellness, arts and cultural events and other programming for the existing 6-acre park.
Public Health Study to Measure Air Pollution from BQE and Other Health Threats
Virginia Ribot, the community organizer for Mothers Out Front (MOF), and Ana Traverso, the manager of the Green Light District (GLD) program for El Puente, introduced a public health study surveying air quality, waste hauling and other major truck traffic and their impact on the Southside. The results of the study are expected to scientifically demonstrate the need for the development of BQGreen, a proposed 3.5-acre park, which will be built on a platform over the BQE where the highway runs below grade. It is expected that the study will also show the need for remediation of the air pollution at existing parks on the Southside, most of which are located in close proximity to the BQE, and the urgent need for new, healthful parks on the Southside.
Friends of BQGreen: Taking Care of and Activating Marcy and Rodney until New Park Is Built
Miguel Hernandez, the head of the Williamsburg Beautification Project and a consultant to OSA, spoke about the Friends of BQGreen and its plans to maintain and activate Marcy Green and Rodney Park, which will become part of BQGreen, until the new park is built.