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The cost of building Brooklyn Bridge Park has more than doubled — from an original 2002 estimate of $150 million up to $350 million today — fueling concern the public had been snookered by officials in their quest to create the waterfront park and condo development.
Costs for the 1.3-mile riverside project were already up to $225 million as early as last month, when the city set aside another $75 million in this year’s budget.
But state Sen. Marty Connor (D–Brooklyn Heights) gave the official word in a meeting with park critics that construction would top $300 million.
“The original estimates are … old,” Connor told The Brooklyn Paper, adding, “We’ll find the money.”
The mind may be willing, but is the body politic able?
Even if the city approves the latest $75-million cash infusion to the struggling project, there’s still a $75- to $125-million gap between current allocations and the high end of Connor’s estimate — all at a time of belt-tightening in City Hall and Albany.
Critics of the plan — whose hundreds of units of luxury housing are supposed to underwrite the annual $15 million maintenance budget — called the latest budget busting “a fraud.”
“This is a crime. No one is watching the money,” said Judi Francis, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, which opposes the inclusion of luxury condos within the waterfront park’s footprint. “I can guarantee you they’re going to come up with a higher [maintenance] figure, because the park is so much more expensive to construct.”
Despite the soaring costs, demolition work continues at the site, with the removal of existing warehouses on the piers closest to the Brooklyn Bridge.
“Just because the costs have gone up, it doesn’t mean we should halt progress on the park,” said Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights).
Some critics contend the high price is due to the park’s elaborate designs, which include manmade rolling hills, perched wetlands, and a kayaking cove.
“We could have built a $30-million park with a bunch of soccer fields 10 years ago,” said Roy Sloane, a longtime proponent for a publicly accessible waterfront. “It wouldn’t have won any landscaping awards, but we would have a park.”
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp., the state agency overseeing the development, did not confirm that costs have risen.
“We cannot presently confirm an expanded project or expanded project budget at this time,” said Warner Johnston, a spokesman for the agency.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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