Havemeyer Park opens bike park, urban farm, green space to the public

July 11, 2013 Heather Chin
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It’s all about the experience.

At the newly opened Havemeyer Park in Williamsburg, located on Site E of the Domino Sugar property on Kent Avenue between South 3rd and South 4th Streets, in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge, park-goers can learn how to ride bicycles on specially-designed and landscaped mini sand dunes and trails in the bike park, walk along a multi-use trail with their family, play a game of Frisbee on a grassy field, smell the flowers and pick their own vegetables from the raised soil beds of North Brooklyn Farms, read a book in the soon-to-open open-air library, or enjoy a snack from one of the boxcar-housed mobile food vendors while picnicking in the grass.

Open to the public for at least the next year, the 55,000 square foot space is a rare sight in Brooklyn or anywhere urban, much less in North Brooklyn, which has a dearth of open and green space, especially considering the size of its population.

Now, part bike park, part urban farm, part park grounds, Havemeyer Park is all community space.

“I can’t take credit, but I’m happy to make it possible,” said Jed Walentas of Two Trees Management, which owns the site and teamed up with Williamsburg resident Bobby Redd, Ride Brooklyn, Dellavalle Designs, Build It Green NYC, and North Brooklyn Farms to make the pop-up park happen. “[The park] speaks to our philosophy and I’m incredibly impressed with what everyone’s done.”

“What used to be a parking lot—a flat surface—we are extremely happy to turn into something for the community,” said Brant Moeller, one of the members of Redd’s team.

“We have [real estate] developments, but don’t have a pop-up park anywhere close by, and we certainly have cyclists with kids who have nowhere to learn,” said Assemblymember Joseph Lentol, who gushed about the educational potential of the hiking trail, skateboard area, and unfilled well.  “This is an exciting place to be and before leaving, you’ll learn about so much.”

“Art is coming alive [and the park] will incorporate community in response to the community’s needs,” said Councilmember Diana Reyna, who touted the health benefits of outdoor exercise. “This shows that you can convert land with a community partnership, sweat and equity.”

A rotating cast of food vendors will also be on hand in transported boxcars that line one stretch of Havemeyer Park’s border, along South 2nd Street.

Fortunately for park fans, everything is portable, ensuring that it can be preserved and pop up again somewhere else once construction, slated for late 2014, begins on housing as part of Two Trees’ waterfront development of the 11-acre site of the former Domino Sugar Factory.

The Bike Park

The Brooklyn Bike Park is the borough’s first legal, free and environmentally-conscious bike park, and features “a six-foot-wide multi-use trail that is completely ADA-accessible and can accommodate bikes, strollers and walkers,” plus beginner-level and expert/advanced-level pump tracks, and a skills area where workshops will teach new riders to cycling and proper riding technique.

The site is run by Ride Brooklyn, a local bike shop with locations in Williamsburg and Park Slope, whose owner, Peter Kocher, brought his 14-month old daughter Clara for a kiddie bike spin around the sand. Kocher noted that “there’s really nowhere in Brooklyn to ride off-road. Other boroughs have it. . . It’s less painful to fall on sand and skills learned here can transfer to the street.”

The Farm

            North Brooklyn Farms was tapped to build and maintain the urban farm, its produce and flowers, tours, and all workshops that grow out of it. Farm manager Ryan Watson described the farm’s creation, which is still ongoing, as “a very surreal process” that has yielded container beds full of kale, tomatoes, basil, marigolds, Asian pear trees, collards, sunflowers and more.

“It’s beautiful to see what this space has become,” Watson said. “We want to be able to show people what is possible in open spaces. There are hundreds of acres of open space in the city lying unused. We’re a demonstration to show the transformative potential or urban agriculture, even if only for one year and not a lot of money.”

The farm will feature farmstands every second Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and pick-your-own vegetable days on Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m.


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