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A hill too far

The Brooklyn Paper

State environmental officials — who have already rejected a key design element in the Brooklyn Bridge Park development — are now taking an extra long look at another key feature, embolding foes of the project.

Complaints about the 30-foot-tall, sound-reducing hills, or berms, on the Furman Street side of the site provoked the state Department of Environmental Conservation last month to extend the public comment period on the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation’s application for a permit to build on state wetlands.

That public comment period ended on Wednesday.

“The berms take up space that could be used for actual parkland,” said Bob Stone, a member of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, which has opposed the state development project in favor of what it calls a “real” park that would not have residential units in its footprint. “The berms are going to be very steep and it won’t be possible to do anything on them.”

Brooklyn Bridge Park planners flatly rejected that notion and assert that the landscaped ridges are indispensable because they will block noise from the nearby Brooklyn–Queens Expressway.

“The berms are carefully designed to create a park environment on a site that is very flat, and to attenuate the noise,” said Warner Johnston, a spokesman for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation.

A denial from the Department of Environmental Conservation could plunge the development into chaos if its architects are forced to significantly redesign the layout. And winning the agency’s approval is more than a mere formality. Earlier this year, for example, DEC nixed plans for walkways between the piers, citing the potential for damage to aquatic life.

Critics have also petitioned the agency to smite wave attenuators from the plan. The project’s development agency has said such wave-calmers are needed to create a safe setting for novice kayakers. The voices clamoring for the removal of the attenuators counter that the barriers limit the ability of more experienced boaters to navigate the river.

“Kayakers were especially chagrined at the inclusion of wave-breaks as they feel the enjoyment of this sport depends on the waves,” the Defense Fund wrote in its public testimony.

Of course, the wave attenuators may be a moot point, because the boating area is omitted from the current park construction schedule due to a lack of money.

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al pankin from downtown says:
by the time they finish this the old docks will have landmark status...
Nov. 26, 2008, 10:13 pm

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