Brooklyn Boro

Brooklyn Strand workshop gives residents a voice

September 22, 2015 By Cody Brooks Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Meeting attendees were split into five groups sitting at map-covered tables to discuss different areas of the Brooklyn Strand, with organizers specializing in specific sections going from table to table to ask questions and get feedback. Eagle photos by Cody Brooks
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Community Board 2 and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership hosted a workshop at the Willoughby Senior Center on Monday, giving residents the chance to explain any concerns about the Brooklyn Strand.

The Brooklyn Strand is a concept that would connect the separated parks within Downtown Brooklyn into one unit using additional bike lanes, park extensions and more pedestrian areas. The idea was sparked by the Brooklyn Tech Triangle coalition last year in an effort to revitalize the Downtown area.

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Founding Principal of urban design firm WXY Claire Weisz put the Brooklyn Strand project in simple terms, saying that heavy construction in the ’30s through the ’50s made the public areas in Downtown Brooklyn “fragments,” and that the workshop’s goal is to brainstorm how to “make things connect again.”

Attendees were split into five groups sitting at map-covered tables to discuss a certain area of the Brooklyn Strand, with organizers specializing in specific sections going from table to table to ask questions and get feedback. Nothing was off-limits from discussion; in fact, one of the stated objectives for the Brooklyn Strand is to “rectify mistakes of urban renewal” — to identify superfluous segments of streets and any poorly planned Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge on/off ramps — and take the new fixes to the Department of Transportation.

Residents’ complaints were varied and abundant. Several pointed out that bike routes lack direction. Others agreed with a representative from the Department of City Planning who said that the parks seemed “run down” and in great need of a “face lift,” because no one would want to go to an uninviting park. A common complaint was that even though some of the parks are big, none of them feel secluded. Two women were annoyed that children’s facilities such as playgrounds were either nonexistent or rundown.

One of those women noted something grave: she said that if the park areas near the projects did not show improvement on things the residents of the nearby buildings explicitly want, then “they’ll destroy it before it’s finished.” She suggested a food market appealing enough to deter sabotage.

Included in the discussion was art installation group SUPERFLEX member Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, who helped develop the Superkilen in Copenhagen, an award-winning park with unique designs. He too noted the fragmented nature of Downtown Brooklyn’s parks, and in particular was bothered by the copious amount of fences and walls that create not only isolated parks, but also isolated sections within parks. He viewed the high chain-link fences of basketball courts as a big offender.

Suggestions by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership included improvements such as a raised glass platform and cafe at Borough Hall, turning the archways and underpasses of Brooklyn Bridge into markets and shops and connecting Cadman Plaza and the Korean War Veteran’s Park by paving Tillary Street into a pedestrian seating area.


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