Windsor Terrace

From pigsty to horse haven, a new vision for a Windsor Terrace dumpsite

August 29, 2019 Mary Frost
Brooklyn industrialist John Quadrozzi, Jr. stands in front of old tires, discarded mattresses and other illegally debris on the Ocean Parkway access road behind his Prospect Park Stable in Windsor Terrace. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

A Brooklyn industrialist has big plans for a forgotten little park.

John Quadrozzi Jr., president of GBX–Gowanus Bay Terminal, hopes to bring back the days of Brooklyn’s equestrian glory — and that includes a small park in Windsor Terrace.

The vest-pocket park at the corner of East Eighth Street and Ocean Parkway’s service road was filled with litter and, until recently, smelled of rotting garbage. Dog owners found it to be a convenient place to toss their baggies filled with poop.

The unnamed plaza is just steps away from Prospect Park Stable (formerly known as Kensington Stables). Now, Quadrozzi, the stable’s new owner, has bagged up the garbage, cleaned out the matted cigarette butts and power-washed the cobblestones, and is hoping the city will haul the piles of debris away from the Ocean Parkway access road across the street.

This vest-pocket plaza at the corner of Eighth Street and Ocean Parkway’s service road is tiny, but plays a big role in Brooklyn’s equestrian history. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
This vest-pocket plaza at the corner of East Eighth Street and Ocean Parkway’s service road is tiny, but plays a big role in Brooklyn’s equestrian history. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

Families and workers on lunch break have started to return to the little park, Quadrozzi told the Brooklyn Eagle. But that’s not the end of the story.

Quadrozzi has ridden horses all his life. Over the years, he has championed repairs to Prospect Park’s bridle paths, upgraded the “Q equine area” (nicknamed after its new Q-shaped connection to the bridle path), and in July, revived an old Brooklyn tradition, the Prospect Park Horse Parade.

A hundred years ago, the little park was the site of the original Prospect Park Stable, Quadrozzi said. The park cleanup ties in with his vision of an environmentally friendly bridle path running along the Ocean Parkway access road to Prospect Park. A bridle path once existed along Ocean Parkway, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the designers of Prospect Park. Their park design included carriage drives and bridle paths.

To make this bridle path, Quadrozzi is asking the Department of Transportation to flip the lane configuration of a block of the Ocean Parkway access road, from the stable into Machate Circle.

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“We can create a protected horse lane that flows seamlessly into the circle, where there’s already a protected horse lane, and not have to cross the street or go into traffic,” he said.

The lane flip will not reduce parking and it will improve the safety of the existing bike path “by continuing it off street as it is on the multitude of blocks proceeding this one,” Quadrozzi says. “Getting the bikes off the street, horses in a safe place, cars over to the side so the community’s not losing parking — it’s just pure function.”

He is waiting for the DOT to complete a study on the proposal, he said.

The area circled in red is the small park Quadrozzi is cleaning up. The area circled in orange is the section of the Ocean Parkway access road where he hopes the city will build a protected bridle path and protected bike path. Map courtesy of NYC Parks Department
The area circled in red is the small park that Quadrozzi is cleaning up. The area circled in orange is the section of the Ocean Parkway access road where he hopes the city will build a protected bridle path and protected bike path. Map courtesy of NYC Parks Department

Funding on its way for the little park

Borough President Eric Adams and Councilmember Brad Lander on July 1 allocated $120,000 in funding for the renovation of the little park, NYC Parks Department spokesperson Charisse Hill told the Eagle.

“The project will upgrade this green space with new pavement, seating and landscaping,” she said. The design phase of this project has not yet begun, she said.

Quadrozzi hopes to pitch his “equine enhanced” vision, with connectivity to the stable, at a future design charrette.

“We will be presenting a dynamic use of the space to the community, one that will encompass the equine history surrounding it and that of Brooklyn,” he said.

A good guy named Joe

Quadrozzi says he was inspired, in part, to expand his cleanup to the Ocean Parkway access road because of a neighborhood good guy named Joe.

He first saw Joe picking up papers along the access road to the west of the East Eighth Street overpass.

Quadrozzi pointed to a mound of bags by the side of the road.

“Joe filled them up. And then he went in with the weed whacker,” Quadrozzi said. “Not an electric one, a manual one. And he’s out there whacking the weeds and he’s picking up the papers, he’s putting the grass in one bag, and the garbage in another.”

Just a modest guy from the neighborhood named Joe. Photo courtesy of John Quadrozzi Jr.
Just a modest guy from the neighborhood named Joe. Photo courtesy of John Quadrozzi Jr.

Where Joe worked, the weedy path was neatly trimmed and free of garbage. Elsewhere, the weeds were knee high and piled with old tires, discarded mattresses and other illegally-dumped debris.

“I have concerns with the large amount of mosquitoes coming from the tires, garbage and overgrown weeds,” Quadrozzi said. “it creates a big health concern for the public and horses alike.”

The full green cycle

For Quadrozzi, the work is not only about restoring Brooklyn’s equine history. It’s also about being “the greenest we can be.”

He hopes, for example, to replace the weeds growing along the access road with hay. The horses could graze on the hay, maintaining the strip, while the hay itself would become “a sidewalk runoff capture to reduce combined sewage overflow volumes,” he said.

“So instead of poor Joe out there, coming out with his manual weed whacker, we could have the horses doing it,” he said.

Quadrozzi’s other green projects include BlueCity, a floating industrial eco-lab in the waters off South Red Hook, and a composting program at his waterfront industrial facility.

In his composting program, Quadrozzi turns copious amounts of horse manure from the stable into rich organic compost. He donates it free to Brooklyn community gardens and to a public school, P.S. 66 in Canarsie, “where kids will farm their own food and consume it in their own cafeteria.” Recycling the compost is a means to make productive use of a resource, Quadrozzi says.

“The compost is going to gardens, and hopefully into other food production at community farms,” he said. In the future, the stable may open a small café to sell the food grown using his compost, Quadrozzi added.

“That’s where we really want to go, where we can use horse manure to produce energy,” he said. Food waste will go into the system, too.

“It’s another alternative to wind or solar, which is what people generally focus on,” he said. “Waste to energy is probably our most vital resource. We have more waste than anything, and instead of letting it be waste, we’re letting it function.”

“Why not connect the dots?” Quadrozzi added. “I think everything we do should be looking at the full cycle.”

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To help support this cleanup, the protected bike and bridle path or greening initiative, email [email protected]

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2 Comments

  1. There actually used to be a luncheonette there, before the ramps were built during the prospect expressway construction. I have a picture somewhere –

    I think his proposal sounds great – now if can just get the 11 ocean parkway guys next door to be better neighbors (they’ve trashed it; it is partially collapsed) that stretch might come together.

    Liam

  2. Joel Wertzberger

    The community has quite harrasive members. I used to have my office in 11 Ocean Parkway, most people are beautiful neighbours but the few bad apples were so vocal it’s pathetic. They ruined the feel of the neighborhood for us.

    As nature had it, the roof collapsed one day and we moved on. Oh do I miss those horses.

    The money allocated for the project (120K) was donated by my landlord Mr. Leifer. A local hassidic developer. No one gives him credit for it.