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Designs Unveiled for Columbia Street Waterfront Park

Regional Plan Association and Brooklyn Greenway Initiative showed renderings of the proposed parks, and discussed next steps.

Several local residents joined , Regional Plan Association and elected officials for a presentation on Columbia Street Waterfront Park on Wednesday evening.

The meeting, held at Union Star Theater at 101 Union Street, was a report back to the community about the concept design of the park, which would be located off of Columbia Street in between Kane and Degraw Streets, the current construction site of the Gowanus flushing tunnel, due to be finished in the summer of 2013.

Last winter, nearly 80  what they wanted from the park, and several ideas were proposed, ranging from topographical design to the incorporation of a dog run.

With these suggestions, Rogers Marvel Architects created a concept design of the space. The design incorporates many of the proposed ideas, including seating, a comfort station, a dog run, and a 6 - 8 foot hill that would double as a natural amphitheater. 

"Hopefully we did a good job of capturing the vision that came out of the workshop," said Robert J. Pirani from Regional Plan Association. 

The park would be part of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, a 14 mile off-street route that will run along the western coast of Brooklyn, with separate pedestrian and bike paths. In the proposed design, the bike path weaves through the Columbia Street Waterfront Park, dividing the park into two parts. 

Scott Demel, from Rogers Marvel Architects, said that the bike path "establishes the spine that sets up the space within the park."

He said that the front of the park, closer to Columbia Street, would have "more formal plantings," a designed space with elements such as the natural amphitheater and comfort station, as well as a central area with moveable seats for events and concerts. The back side of the park, while much smaller than the front, was described by Demel as "a little bit more loose, a little bit more wild," and includes walking trails and the dog run. 

Attendees embraced the design, although some expressed concern about the safety of a bike path running through the park, and asked for signage and other methods to slow down cyclists.

Councilman Brad Lander attended the event to show his support. He praised the community for their involvement in the process.

"To do this in a way that connects the neighborhood...is really exciting," he said. "I look forward to this being taken to the next steps."

The "next steps" include finding funding for the project, which is estimated to cost from $10 - $12 million for creation alone. The maintenance of the park needs funding as well, and the DOT, who currently owns the site, still needs to agree to transfer the property for park purposes. 

Lander said that the transfer, "in principle," should not be an issue, as long as there is funding and a viable way to maintain the space.

"It's a scale of a project that we ought to be able to do," said Lander. "That being said, it's going to take all of us pushing and pushing."

Me on Columbia January 19, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Can't help to feel like the writer is intending to imply a low turn out yesterday. By saying that "Several local residents" attended last night as compared with "nearly 80", the writer seems want to paint a significant interest drop off. I was at both meetings any difference in attendance was not that distinct. Last night, there were several *tables* of people there.
Gwen Ruelle January 19, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Thank you for your feedback! Since I was not at the original meeting, I didn't get a sense for changing amounts of attendees, but I wanted to emphasize the "nearly 80" number from the original report since it was more of a formative meeting in which community members proposed ideas for the design of the park, rather than a report back from the architecture firm, BGI, and RPA.
Giacomo January 19, 2012 at 08:04 PM
I could not attend the meeting but wonder if anyone brought up finally eliminating the salt mountain especially now that ASI is no longer managing the pier? Seems obscene to spend all that money on a park and have it dusted with chemicals every windy day!

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