Brooklyn Heights

Park in the dark: Pols and stores want scaffolding out of Brooklyn Bridge Park

September 12, 2019 Mary Frost
Scaffolding has been up over the north end of Brooklyn Bridge Park for a year and a half. Officials and DUMBO businesses say it’s time the city fixes whatever is causing debris to fall into the park. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
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The “temporary” scaffolding that has cast the northern end of Brooklyn Bridge Park into shadow for a year and a half has been up for way too long, say Brooklyn officials and DUMBO businesses.

Officials have sent a joint letter to the city asking when the scaffolding will be taken down, and businesses have started a petition.

The park erected the scaffolding in March 2018 after debris fell into the park section directly under the Manhattan Bridge. A year earlier, a chunk of debris had fallen into the boulder-climbing area.

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It seemed a reasonable idea to cover this section of the park until the city’s Department of Transportation and the MTA found a way to protect park-goers, officials said. But the scaffolding was only meant to be up until the city figured out why pieces were falling from either the bridge, the trains running over it, or something else.

In deep shade under the scaffolding are DUMBO Boulders (an outdoor boulder-climbing area), the Main Street dog run and scenic paths. Some benches are closed to the public.

DUMBO Boulders — an outdoor boulder-climbing area — is one of the sections of Brooklyn Bridge Park that has been covered with scaffolding for a year and a half. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
DUMBO Boulders — an outdoor boulder-climbing area — is one of the sections of Brooklyn Bridge Park that has been covered with scaffolding for a year and a half. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

Sen. Brian Kavanagh, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Borough President Eric Adams, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and Councilmember Stephen Levin say they want “a permanent solution to resolve any safety concerns.”

“While the park was unable to determine with certainty whether the origin of the debris was from the bridge, the subway that runs across the bridge, or neither of those sources, this precaution seemed reasonable in light of a prior incident in which debris was known to have fallen from the bridge,” the officials wrote.

“Given that the scaffolding has been up for nearly 18 months, we would appreciate insight into the extent to which a safety concern persists, which entity might be responsible, and what is currently being done to resolve the matter.” The park needs “a permanent solution,” officials said.

Alexandria Sica, president of the DUMBO Improvement District, told the Brooklyn Eagle that in recent years, “New York has awesomely started using the waterfront for parks, recognizing the magic of spaces like this one below the Manhattan Bridge. That magic is lost with 12-foot-high scaffolding blocking the view of the bridge and the waterfront.

“People come to experience DUMBO from around the world — and the city is missing a major opportunity here,” Sica added.

“We don’t really know anything about it,” DUMBO Boulders manager John told the Eagle. (He did not want to use his last name.) “As far as we know, it’s going to stay for a little bit. There are petitions going around, trying to bring it down.”

It’s hard to say if the facility has lost business, he said. “Visibility is definitely lower than you would expect. And when it’s nice and sunny day outside, it’s like walking into a tent.”

But the scaffolding is not all bad, he hastened to add. “It keeps stuff from falling off the bridge. There’s give and take. You have to weigh it against people getting hurt.”

People can sign the petition at DUMBO Boulders, John said.

Eric Landau, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park, told the Eagle that from the moment the park put up the scaffolding as a temporary measure, “Our goal has always been to have something that is fully protective and matches the park’s aesthetic. To that end, we continue to work with our partners in government on the best and most appropriate long-term solution.”

Park officials have been working with DOT and MTA “to find a way to protect the park from similar instances in the future,” he said.


Update: The petition can be signed at DUMBO Boulders, not the DUMBO BID. Eric Landau of Brooklyn Bridge Park did not refer to the petition, as originally reported.

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