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New Design Planned for $24M Upgrade of Fort Greene Park, But Concerns Remain About Tree Loss

The parks department has released a new plan that expands the planned restorations at Fort Greene Park
Fort Greene Park. Photo: Anna Bradley-Smith for BK Reader.

A revamped $24 million plan to restore Fort Greene Park has been released by NYC Parks Department, but some local residents are still concerned about tree loss.

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, released the new plan, saying the project will restore the original design intent of the park, while modernizing it to create a fully ADA accessible entrance and reconstruct pathways for users of all abilities.

"We are committed to reimagining and restoring Fort Greene Park, and we've made sure that accessibility is at the forefront of the work we are doing," he said.

"The expanded scope of this project will undergo review by an environmental engineer, and we are confident that we will be able to move forward with our plans for this park."

He added Fort Greene Park was the focal point of the neighborhood and the community deserved an, "accessible, inclusive, and renewed space where they can feel safe and welcomed."

The new plan has an extra $3.75 million on the initial budget, which has been added by Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams' office. 

Cumbo said she was thrilled the "much-need improvements" were moving forward. "They will make Fort Greene Park a great community open space to be enjoyed for generations to come."

This project will combine the designs of two previous Fort Greene projects and add additional repair and construction to the western side of the park, Silver said. It will reconstruct entrances, plaza spaces, update the drainage infrastructure and the path system. And as part of the added scope of work, the new path connections will improve ADA accessibility and address ongoing site issues with erosion from storm water runoff, the Parks Department said.

The department also said the project would add new trees and planting through the pathways, but concerned locals aren't sold.

The initial plans for the project included chopping 83 mature trees.

Brooklyn Paper reported the department said it would be planting at least 200 new trees, and it would not be felling any more trees than were in the initial plan — unless they posed a safety risk.

"The project will more than double the amount of trees being planted — at least 200 new trees will restore and enhance Fort Greene Park's existing and future tree canopy. The project still will require tree removals," Anessa Hodgson told Brooklyn Paper in a statement.

But Friends of Fort Greene Park and other environmentalist and preservationist groups, which sued the department over earlier plans, are still bemoaning the city's approach and plan to chop down mature trees.

"Saplings take 20-to-30 years to provide the canopy that provides the same environmental benefits like air quality and shade," Enid Braun told Brooklyn Paper.

"What is dismaying is the lack of transparency here. It reflects the same high-handed approach that they did the last time."

Officials have said the project will undergo an assessment by an environmental engineer, who will perform an environmental review of the new plan and will prepare an Environmental Assessment Statement in accordance with the City's Environmental Quality Review regulations and guidance.

This process is occurring parallel to the design phase of the project, which is expected to take one year.


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