COBBLE HILL – Representatives for Fortis and MPFP Landscape Architecture & Urban Design presented the most recent plans for Henry Street Park III Wednesday evening at the Brooklyn Community Board 6 Parks Committee meeting.
Located on Henry Street (on the corner of Pacific), the passive green space is part of Fortis’ seven-building River Park redevelopment project to convert several former Long Island College Hospital sites into luxury residences. The park is currently closed during the construction of Fortis’ 14-story 5 River Park condo building at 347 Henry Street.
George Fontas, a representative for Fortis, and Rick Parisi of MPFP presented initial plans for Henry Street Park III during a community input meeting back in February. Items discussed at that initial meeting included: seating, safety/security, planting, potential amenities, and the overall design (traditional or “more playful”) of the nearly 5,100-square-foot sitting park. “We think we captured everything we heard that day and distilled it down,” said Parisi Wednesday night. “We’d like to take it to the next level so we can get a little more feedback and keep moving.”
Based on the community feedback the team received at the February meeting, plans for Henry Street Park III were modified based on the following goals:
- Maintaining the passive nature of the park
- Providing new flexible/movable seating arrangements
- Enhancing the overall visual character of the park (a new, inviting entrance and planting improvements)
- Creating an open area for events and programming
- Providing plant screening for the adjacent building
- Providing amenities such as Wi-Fi access and electrical power sources
- Enhancing security/safety for park visitors while improving the visual connectivity to the other parks and the street
Parisi presented two design options for Henry Street Park III, a more traditional linear option, and a more playful, curvilinear option. The meeting attendees preferred the second softer design.
Both designs include pushing the surrounding fence further out toward the public area/sidewalk; planting a landscaped border with visible connections to the street and to Henry Street Parks I and II; and removing the steps from the Pacific Street entrance and adding an ADA accessible ramp.
Several meeting attendees were in favor of the city’s Parks Without Borders initiative—which makes parks more accessible and welcoming—and said they’d like to see the gates and fence surrounding Henry Street Park III removed. “There was quite an outcry to remove the fence, but we know that in any of these parks that a fence is more of a safety measure” to prevent children from running out onto the street, Parisi explained, adding that a fence will likely remain in the plans.
The two designs presented on Wednesday also feature a central open area/event space; a drinking fountain; seating nooks; a mosaic honoring the site’s history at the Henry Street entrance; and a fixed seating garden area in the park’s southeast corner.
“We heard a lot about the chess tables,” said Parisi. “There was a number of people that said we don’t want the chess tables at all. Some people said if they remained that they should be nicer….” The new park plan includes fewer chess tables.
Regarding the non-functioning historic clock currently standing in the park, a show of hands at Wednesday’s meeting made clear that many would like to see it repaired. “We are not sure [of] the age and historic nature of that particular clock,” Fontas said, noting that they will try to find more background information on the timepiece. “We’ve had someone look into repairing the mechanisms of the clock and we’re told this particular model cannot be fixed,” he added. “We can try to replace it but it may not be the exact same clock.”
When questioned about the amount of sunlight the park will receive, Parisi said that a shade study was conducted for the whole block, reviewing each season three times a day, but the results were not available to share at last night’s meeting. “We can look into trying to provide that when we come back,” he said.
“There’s plenty of light there for a good portion of the day, especially in the summer and even in the winter,” he noted. “The most shade we get is from the existing building across the street.”
Several at Wednesday’s meeting also asked to see MPFP’s plans for Henry Street Parks I and II as well as a fourth public space along Pacific (between Henry and Hicks), to get a better sense of the relationship between the spaces. “I would like to see a sort of holistic presentation of how these parks are going to go together,” said CB6 Parks Committee Chair Glenn Kelly. “I think the community will feel more at ease if they got the big picture…. Give an overview of the other spaces. Just show us how it fits into the master plan.”
“We’ll be back to speak to you about these as we start to develop those,” Parisi said. “We will design these with the same hand. While they’ll have play equipment in them and a lot of passive areas, we want these parks to all feel like a family of parks.”
Other concerns the community asked the design team to consider included: ensuring that the park lighting does not flood into the windows of neighboring homes; planting native trees and greenery that support birds and insects; and adding trees that do not damage the sidewalks. Another meeting attendee suggested designating a place in the park to honor Donald and Mildred Othmer who bequeathed Long Island College Hospital $160 million.
“We will work over the coming months with the Department of Parks to continue to refine the plan and then we hope to be back to you in May or June…so we can present a vision for the park in its close-to-final stages for additional feedback from all of you,” said Fontas. He added that the team expects to be able to begin work in the park by Fall 2019.
“Our Parks Chair Glenn Kelly did a great job last night and we look forward to ensuring that the community is heard on this project,” said CB6 District Manager Michael Racioppo following Wednesday’s meeting. “Specifically, we’ll ensure everyone is notified when Fortis comes back to present, hopefully, later this spring.”
Click here to see the Henry Street Park III March 20, 2019 presentation.