Mystery as to why Costly Bridge Went Asway as Comptroller Seeks Better Transparency from Private Corporation Running Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park Squibb Park Bridge Problems
Brooklyn Bridge Park Problems

When things are handled in a questionable manner from the start, typically, there will be some push back that occurs later. Here we have the situation with the Brooklyn Bridge Park, a project in the works for many years which ultimately went against community wishes, including housing within its borders. The park must work to pay for itself. It is run by a private corporation, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, which has garnered (more) negative attention recently, when its directors failed to inform the public that the Pier House building would rise higher than the “agreed upon limit, thereby blocking the famous view of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline.

Now, Comptroller Scott Stringer is “urging” the private entity “to improve the transparency of its financial statements and provide greater detail to the public on past, present, and future budget projections” as the mystery behind the bouncing bridge at the park remains.

From the New York Times, Slow Rebound for a Bridge in Brooklyn Whose Bounce Became Worse:

It was supposed to be the coolest little bridge in New York City. Designed by the winner of a MacArthur “genius” grant and built at a cost of $4.1 million, it zigzagged just 400 feet down from Brooklyn Heights to the waterfront, bouncing slightly underfoot and adding a touch of rustic adventure to the bustling Brooklyn Bridge Park.

But the pedestrian bridge, which opened in March 2013, soon bounced a little too much. Then it started to move from side to side. Then, last August, it was closed abruptly — and temporarily — park officials said. By October, the target reopening date was amended to spring.

Now, with spring well underway, officials for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, which operates the park, still do not have an exact date for when the Squibb Park Bridge, as it is formally known, will reopen, though they say it will be sometime in late spring.

Nor could they specify what went wrong. Belinda Cape, a spokeswoman for the park corporation, attributed the problem broadly to a “misalignment” issue. “Engineers have been working to correct the issue and repair the bridge,” she said. “They’re pulling it back into alignment and testing it, section by section.”

In the absence of an explanation, park officials and local residents have speculated that construction at two nearby sites may have compromised the bridge, or maybe it was the tendency of teenagers to jump en masse to accentuate the bounce.

That seems a bit odd, no? That the bridge would not be made to withstand this? State Senator Daniel Squadron is asking the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation “to provide a full accounting of the bridge’s defects and to recoup the cost of repairs, estimated at about $700,000.”

The article concludes:

The bridge’s travails are part of a cluster of problems for the 85-acre park, which was predicated on commercial development supporting its operations. Last week a group of residents filed a lawsuit against the park corporation to challenge the height of a new residential complex near the Brooklyn Bridge. Others are concerned about the amount of affordable housing planned for two buildings at the other end of the park. And two weeks ago shots were fired in the park for the first time, though no one was hurt.

Charles Paull, a longtime resident of Brooklyn Heights, said that even when the bridge reopened he would continue to take the long way around to the park.

“It’s a great idea for a bridge that is not used by a lot of people, like in the Amazon,” he said.

Housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park Design
Housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park

New York Times: Slow Rebound for a Bridge in Brooklyn Whose Bounce Became Worse

Previously at Washington Square Park Blog:

“The Worst Building in the Gilded City” is in Brooklyn Bridge Park — When Public Space Is Privatized and Forced to Earn Wages January 20, 2015

Top Photo: Brooklyn Heights Blog

2 thoughts on “Mystery as to why Costly Bridge Went Asway as Comptroller Seeks Better Transparency from Private Corporation Running Brooklyn Bridge Park

  1. When the Newark Airport monorail was first scheduled to open, it too was found to suffer from ‘misalignment’. Turned out the contractor did not take into account the seasonal temperature variations in this part of the country, and in cold weather the rails became ‘misaligned’. The contractor was forced to pay to fix the problem.

    City administrators should not try to duck their accountability for proper oversight of private contractors by using the passive voice and a vague term like ‘misaligned’. The problem is not likely to be that the bridge, acting as an entity out of anyone’s control, somehow chose to become (innocuously enough) ‘misaligned’. The problem is far more likely to be that city administrators, choosing to walk away from their responsibility to DIRECTLY oversee services to the public in public spaces, failed to audit and reject the private conservancy/private contractor’s project design at the appropriate moment.

  2. Kevin,

    That is a great example about Newark Airport which I was not aware of.

    And your insights are spot on; it is so true how city administrators have been walking away more and more from their oversight of public spaces.

    Thanks!

    Cathryn

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