June 15, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Community Board 1 voted unanimously on Tuesday against a developer’s requests to do away with some green space requirements in what will become a public waterfront park in Greenpoint.
The developer behind the Greenpoint Landing site, the massive 22-acre project that will bring more than 5,000 units to the waterfront, recently filed to reduce plantings and eliminate a lawn in one portion of the upcoming public park set to be built as part of the development.
Greenpoint Landing Associates, the developer, is seeking to have 35 percent of a walkway within a 20,000 square foot portion of the upcoming park planted, rather than the required 50 percent.
In addition, the developer filed to completely eliminate a lawn, which is supposed to make up 25 percent of a planted area, and fill it in with a mix of “tiered seating” and other plants instead.
The developer said in an April City Planning Commission meeting that reducing plantings would make it easier for pedestrians to walk through the park, and that removing the lawn would allow for a seating area that provides “a social space for the public with enhanced views to the waterfront.”
The requests are also reportedly backed by NYC Parks, which will be in charge of maintaining the park. A spokesperson for the agency said it wanted to eliminate the lawn because of problems with maintaining it, according to the New York Post. “Small patches of lawn in parks do not hold up well over time,” NYC Parks said to the paper.
The developers also presented their proposals to Community Board 1’s Land Use Committee in May, which unanimously voted to reject the proposed planting and lawn changes. Tuesday’s full board vote followed the committee’s recommendation, with many locals applauding the board’s decision to defend green spaces.
“We’re desperate for green space, and there’s just a tremendous dearth of it in this area,” said Del Teague, Land Use Committee Chair.
Laura Hoffman, a local resident, said she was angry that the developers were coming to the community with their requests in the first place, given the public park’s connection to the 2005 Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning. The rezoning allowed for higher density, residential buildings along the waterfront, and promised a public park to the community as a result.
“The whole purpose…was to improve the environment and give us parks and grass to improve our health,” she said. “I hope that the board will vote so that you hold their feet to the fire, and give us every blade of grass that we fought for.”
Others worried that a vote to approve the changes would set a precedent, and that it won’t be the only variance the board will have to consider.
“There is a whole waterfront still to be developed in Williamsburg and Greenpoint,” said Katie Naplatarski, a member of the North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats. “We need to really have our eyes on the ball.”
The land use committee chair said that the developers had sent a letter after the committee meeting agreeing to increase the amount of plantings from the desired 35 percent, but held the same position on removing the lawn.
In addition, the developers, according to Teague, said the changes would actually result in more open space than they are required to give.
“We reminded the developers that, even though they assured that when all is said and done they would have more open space than is required, that open space does not equal green space,” she said.
While the board voted no to the green space changes, it approved other requests made by the developer as part of the same application, including changing the required dimensions of the park’s trash cans, and changes that would avoid flooding to upland areas of the park.
Greenpoint Landing, once completed over the course of several years, will hold over 171,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space, a public school, and 5,500 units within 10 buildings, of which 1,400 units will be affordable. So far, three buildings have been built, with two more currently under construction.
The first portion of the development’s public park is expected to open this summer.
Lawn would be trampled given the rezoning’s increased compromised person to open space ratio. Plantings have the potential to be more resilient and help with biodiversity.