Bush Terminal Piers Park opens; residents celebrate

November 13, 2014 Heather Chin
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Bush Terminal Piers Park is finally open to the public.

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After over a decade of planning, construction and then delays, the long-awaited and much-needed green space quietly opened on Wednesday, November 5 – a week ahead of its official opening at 2 p.m. on November 12. But as soon as word got out that the path was clear, eager Sunset Park residents wasted no time in heading out to the waterfront to enjoy the fresh air and savor a small taste of victory.

“Having the waterfront park open is a dream come true,” said Jovita Vergara Sosa, lifelong resident and mom of three young boys. “I grew up in a low-income household where our only options for distraction were Sunset the Park or the Sunset Park Library. . . I’m so happy this park has opened while my boys are still little and can still be part of their book of memories.”

“Growing up, my cousins and I used go there at night or day to go drink and barbecue chicken,” said Michael Ramos Roman. “Now I can’t wait to bring [my] kids.”

Sosa and Roman were among dozens of Sunset Parkers who brought yellow balloons and a lot of excitement to the park’s entrance at 43rd Street and First Avenue on Saturday, November 8, for an informal, community-led ribbon-cutting and celebration of the park’s opening.

“This is the most impactful development in Sunset Park since 1940,” enthused Tony Giordano of Sunset Park Restoration, a local civic group that has championed greater access to the waterfront and public green space.

The park – located on the Sunset Park waterfront between 43rd and 51st Streets – features two sports/ballfields, a bike path, two restored tidal ponds, a naturalized area for exploring, an open lawn and comfort stations.

The 43rd Street entrance – the park’s sole entryway – can be reached by foot or via a bike path that connects the 43rd Street bike lane to the park path.

It is open daily at 8 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. during winter (November 1 to March 1), at 5 p.m. in spring and fall (March 2 to May 1 and October 1 to November 1), and at 8 p.m. in summer (May 2 to September 30).

There are no designated children’s play space, water fountains, parking area, concessions or fishing and boating – amenities that many residents expressed disappointment at not getting, since recreational options were included in the original plan.

“I feel like more was promised than is being given,” said Johanna Bjorken.

“[This] is merely putting our foot in the door so that we can ‘get inside’ and reclaim our waterfront for jobs, a working waterfront, affordable housing, institutions – such as schools – and true access to the water,” said Giordano.

In response, EDC and Parks Department representatives said in July that they were optimistic that amenities could be added at a later date – if more money could be found and allotted.
Whatever the future holds, the fact remains: the park is here and ready to enjoy.

“There aren’t many places in Sunset Park where kids can bike, scoot or simply enjoy a beautiful quiet view of the water,” exclaimed Sosa. “To have a waterfront view of Manhattan in our own backyard is amazing and surreal.”

“The constant stream of visitors [these first few days] all had one thing in common – a look of wonder in their eyes,” Giordano noted. “It was like they were walking into Disneyland for the first time.”

Photo courtesy of Sunset Parker
Photo courtesy of Sunset Parker

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