City parks with an ecological resiliency bent are expanding across the outer boroughs with the latest proposal for a green-space below the nearly-finished Kosciuszko Bridge on the Brooklyn side of Newtown Creek.
Deemed “Under the K”, for pronunciation purposes apparently, the project being undertaken by the North Brooklyn Parks Alliance will seize on seven acres that will be left open under bridge slated for completion by September 2019 as a cultural hub for Brooklynites and possibly Queens-ites.
Unveiled in late June, the NBPA said Under the K will not only provide four different communities with recreational space, but also match the amount of development in Williamsburg and Greenpoint with park land.
But the idea of creekside parkland may not be as enticing to some nearby residents who know the Newtown as a state Superfund site from its decades as a thoroughfare for industry such as concrete plants.
“The idea is that it’s going to be very accessible from the bike lanes [over the Kosciuszko Bridge]… It’s going to be directly connected to the bike lane coming off the bridge,” Katie Denny Horowitz, the executive director of the NBPA said. “We’ve been working on the Newtown Creek Alliance on having an ecological educational opportunity and using it as way to not give access to the creek but educate people on the history of the creek. Given that there are already existing parks on the creek – like the Newtown Creek nature walk – and there are cleanup efforts in place and we will follow the same procedures as existing access points along the creek.”
But Brooklyn will not be the only side of Newtown Creek benefiting from a new park.
The state Department of Transportation will be designing Queens counterpart to Under the K, however the proposal is in very preliminary stages.
“As part of the Kosciuszko Bridge project, the New York State Department of Transportation plans to create an approximately 30,000-square-foot park directly adjacent to the bridge along 43rd Street between 54th and 55th Avenues in Queens,” Glenn Blain, spokesman with state DOT said. “The proposed park is still in the preliminary design phase and we will share more details with the community as plans progress. The park is expected to open in 2022.”
NBPA is working to finish on the design for Under the K by the spring of 2020.
In April 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo and other local officials from Brooklyn and Queens cut the ribbon on the first span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge hailed as the first bridge project of its kind in the state since the 1960s.
Altogether, the effort to build five Queens-bound and four Brooklyn-bound lanes cost taxpayers $873 million. But something the original bridge lacked was pedestrian and bike lanes, making the new overpass an asset to not only motorists but for the public at large.
“Few parks could offer such raw potential for community engagement in activation, recreation, culture, and nature – a testing ground for contemporary expressions of social and ecological transformation.” Marc Ryan and Adam Nicklin, cofounders of PUBLIC WORK, said in a joint statement.