Despite being sued twice by community groups, the city is continuing to move forward with plans to redesign Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn Paper reports.
Members of Friends of Fort Greene joined with environmentalist and preservationist organizations to sue the city last year, saying Parks Department officials were attempting to bypass a state environmental review with redevelopment plans. The plans would fell 83 mature trees in the park to make way for a paved plaza and other amenities.
The Parks Department received a temporary restraining order from a State Supreme Court judge, who stated the department had to show the plan would not have significant environmental impacts. But documents show the department has rescheduled the project, with procurement due to be completed by November 2020. The move has stunned those fighting against the redevelopment.
"We were just shocked when they adjusted the procurement completion date to November 2020," Friends of Fort Greene member Ling Hsu said. "It just shows that the Parks Commissioner [Mitchell Silver] is forcing through this unpopular and legally questionable proposal of his."
In a previous lawsuit, Friends of Fort Greene successfully proved the Parks Department had lied about the health of dozens of trees to validate their construction plans.
The city's 12 to 18 month construction would remove 52 trees to make way for a paved plaza at the Myrtle Avenue and St. Edwards Street corner and another 31 near Myrtle Avenue and Washington Park. The redesign would include an expanded adult fitness area, a new basketball court and the replacement of old sidewalks.
Friends of Fort Greene Park have fought against the project since the it's proposal in 2017, due the number of trees that would be removed over 13,300 square-feet.
Fort Greene Park Conservatory, a non-profit dedicated to the park's maintenance, supports the redesign. The head of the organizaton said the plan would allow for "understory gardens" that would include younger plants that prevented erosion and provided a better habitat for birds and bugs.
When asked about the project's future, a Parks Department spokeswomen declined to provide more information.