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A vital design element of the proposed Brooklyn Bridge Park is in jeopardy because it could harm underwater life.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has raised objections about the impact of walkways that would connect at least three of the six piers in the residential, comercial and open space development because such boardwalks cast shadows that might disrupt fish habitats.
These connections between the piers in the 85-acre development along the Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO waterfront have been touted as a refreshing new use of city waterfront, which for decades has been idle after the decline of the shipping industry. Perhaps more important, the paths make it easier for people to navigate across the park, rather than creating dead-end jetties, such as at the Chelsea Piers complex in Manhattan
But the DEC might not approve the walkways, a scenario that was first reported by the New York Observer.
“Constructing in or over coastal waters impairs our limited near-shore aquatic habitat, which provides an important ‘nursery’ for young fish and supports a variety of aquatic life,” said Arturo Garcia-Costas, a DEC spokesman, in an e-mail to The Brooklyn Paper.
The smallest of God’s creatures have impeded other massive public works, most notably Westway — a plan to build an underground highway beneath landfills on Manhattan’s west side in the 1970s that was killed because it was believed to have imperiled the habitat of the snail darter, an endangered fish.
Elected officials hope the DEC will have to soften its hard-line stance this time around.
“The DEC is taking an overly rigid and narrow focused view of what’s good for the environment,” said Councilmember David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights), who said the pathways are good because they allow “people to get down there and enjoy the waterfront.”
The cost to build the open space portion of the development is now about $300 million, twice as much as was projected in 2004. Money for operating the open space comes from fees assessed to condos and businesses that operate inside the footprint.
Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp. President Regina Myer did not discuss the ongoing negotiations with DEC (but she did comment on a lot more in an exclusive interview with The Brooklyn Paper below).
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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