State Parks hears input on controversial ‘Plastic Park’
Activists, residents of North Brooklyn adamant on environmental issues
“Stop the Plastic Park” was the battle cry that summed up the views of community members regarding the state’s initial, aborted plans to renovate Marsha P. Johnson State Park, which featured a garish design and would have added more than an acre of thermoplastic to the Williamsburg waterfront site.
Since the design process is now starting anew, online and in-person meetings will continue with the aim of capturing community input about design and uses of the park.
The issue came to a head earlier this year when the state released a rendering showing large plastic and foam flowers and a large surface mural featuring loud colors. The State Parks Department planned, for all practical purposes, to go ahead with the plan without community input. Community outrage erupted in news stories and social media.
In the beginning of March, the state finally halted construction after community members, Marsha P. Johnson’s family and LGBTQ+ advocates spoke out. Johnson was a gay, trans activist who was instrumental in the Stonewall rebellion of 1969.
Since the new input process began, throughout the public listening sessions, activists have been saying that NY State Parks has prioritized the food fair Smorgasburg in the park design.
In a letter addressed to NY Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid, activist Kate Yourke wrote, “this is evident in the percentage of the park devoted to cement, as well as the manner in which the design was presented to the community.
“This is a real estate investment accelerator disguised as a small-business incubator disguised as a park improvement project,” she continued.
Elizabeth Mitchell, author and local activist, agreed that “the park’s cement-heavy design was and is very much to accommodate Smorgasburg, a private entity.”
Brian Nearing from NY Parks said, however, that “the public review comment sessions remain ongoing for State Parks to receive public input from the community.”
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