Review & Comment
Last week’s major step toward enabling Brooklyn Bridge Park to be completed was predictably attacked by diehard opponents of the park plan. At this point nothing short of abandoning the whole project could mollify some of them. Aside from the housing, they trotted out such old complaints as difficult park access (to improve which, several new initiatives have been undertaken), the location of Jane’s Carousel (really now, what’s wrong with that?), and even that some play domes for Pier 1 overheated in the sun (a problem long since eliminated). One may recall that, when signs were posted on the newly-seeded lawns of Pier 1 to stay off so the grass could have a chance to grow, park plan opponent Judi Francis saw that as a dastardly elitist omen.
But, as we have seen on both national and local fronts, silliness gets serious play in the news media. The Aug. 3 Wall Street Journal ran a headline, “Park Deal Rankles Residents,” which really meant, “Park Deal Rankles the Easily Rankled.” After State Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, and Council Members Steve Levin and Brad Lander – all of whom had been critical of housing in the park – recognized that the formula approved last week represents the only realistic hope for getting the park fully built, one might have expected all those who profess to want a park to accept the reality. One hopes all but the extreme fringe have accepted it.
To be sure, the formula won’t keep all new housing, or perhaps even most of it, out of the park. But it is abundantly clear that the park has to pay for itself, and that concessions could never cover the cost. And there’s no public money to pay for it (new taxes, anyone?). Still we hear that the housing will “privatize” the park, keeping out the general public. All one needs to do is go to the playgrounds of Pier 6, in the immediate proximity of the One Brooklyn Bridge Park (360 Furman Street) condominium, and see the multi-ethnic nature of those enjoying them. Simply put, the proposed housing will not keep people away; it will make it possible for them to keep coming.
So the Dow fell more than 500 points last Thursday (with more bad news ahead). The good life of the Hamptons went on. In the nearly fifty years I’ve made stops in Sag Harbor, I’ve never seen so many multi-million-dollar, ocean-going yachts docked off the Long Wharf marina, many with three or more decks, as I did over the weekend. Their owners are the job creators – yes, for the captains, deck hands, cooks and waiters who work these grandiose vessels. J.P. Morgan once remarked that, if you have to ask how much a yacht costs, you can’t afford one. He would have been content to see how many now don’t have to ask.