Former landfill rehabilitated with $40 million in federal, state, city funds
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn has a brand new waterfront park.
City officials and Sunset Park residents came together Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the grand opening of Bush Terminal Piers Park, a 23-acre recreation area located on the waterfront behind Bush Terminal.
Assemblymember Felix Ortiz and Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, both of whom represent Sunset Park, were among the officials taking part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Officials from the Parks Department and the city’s Economic Development Corporation were also on hand.
“Today, we unite to host a ceremonial ribbon-cutting to celebrate the opening of this long-awaited community space. This afternoon we honor the advocacy and visioning on the part of our community,” Menchaca said in a statement on Wednesday.
The park, which contains two ball fields, open recreation space, a pier and rest rooms made from old shipping containers, extends along First Avenue from 43rd Street to 51st Street. The entrance is located on First Avenue and 43rd Street.
The park actually opened last week, but a grand opening ceremony was put off until Nov. 12.
Bush Terminal Piers Park sits at the site of a former landfill. The park was created with $40 million in federal, state and city funds that were used for both the cleanup of the toxic dump site and the construction of the recreation area.
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, whose district includes Sunset Park, was instrumental in securing much of the federal funding, according to Menchaca.
But Menchaca also credited Sunset Park residents and environmental groups with the creation of the park, saying that their efforts to push government officials to open up the waterfront for recreational use paid off. “Over the many years, local justice organizations like UPROSE fueled this fight by providing people power consisting mostly of youth who dared to imagine a different future for our waterfront,” he stated.
UPROSE, which stands for United Puerto Rican Organizations of Sunset Park, advocates for better environmental conditions for the community.
“Elected officials like Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez secured substantial federal funding, and others like Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and Councilmember Sara Gonzalez stood alongside so many invested Sunset Park neighbors who, despite the many challenges, never wavered in their demand to the open our waterfront for public and recreational use,” Menchaca said. Gonzalez was Menchaca’s predecessor in the council.
“We are going to celebrate the opening, which we’ve been after for decades,” Tony Giordano, president of the group Sunset Park Restoration, told the New York Daily News.
The Parks Department’s website describes Bush Terminal Piers Park as “a lovely waterfront park with spectacular views of the area’s tidal pools and the Bay Ridge Channel.”
People who visit the park “will find two multi-purpose soccer and baseball fields as well as a nature preserve that allows a fun glimpse into Brooklyn’s wild side,” the website reads.
The park is open from 8 p.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week. From May 2 to Sept. 30, it will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.