Saturday, January 19, 2008

Gravity Thwarted: Dumbo's Fulton Ferry State Park Reopened

Fulton Ferry State Park in Dumbo is open again. A reader writes to tell us that it was open yesterday and, may in fact, have reopened earlier in the week. The park was closed in December after structural problems were detected at the old coffee warehouse in the park, which is called the Empire Stores by many. Officials said they had to close the park to keep the public safe from any debris that might fall.

Only yesterday, while noting a Brooklyn Paper story about the problem, we wondered when the park would reopen and why it had been closed down, given that car were parking on the street directly below a part of the building where cracks were found. A state parks spokesperson didn't give a date for reopening, saying, "Right now, our primary concern is keeping people safe." Developer David Walentas had the right to develop the property, but lost it in 2002 to developer Shaya Boymelgreen. Mr. Boymelgreen, in turn, had the rights taken away in 2006. The Empire State Development Corp. notes that it has failed to find a developer. An opponent of the real estate development aspect of the big Brooklyn Bridge Park plan directly blames the ESDC. Someone from the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, which supports the park plan, includes lawsuits filed by opponents on the list of reasons things have gone so slowly and notes the State Parks Department has a tiny budget for maintenance. Meanwhile, one of the most historic buildings in Dumbo has been allowed to deteriorate to a point at which its structural stability is threatened. At least the park is open again.

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