With public green and open space at a premium along the Sunset Park waterfront, residents are eagerly awaiting the grand opening of Bush Terminal Pier Park between 43rd and 51st Streets while also remaining wary of the city’s plans to license part of the 58th Street Pier/ Pier 4 to a private company.
As reported in June, the plan calls for a three-year license to Vane Brothers through the DockNYC initiative, which aims to increase waterfront access for shipping purposes. The license would allow for the construction of infrastructure to dock empty barges at the pier, eliminating public access to approximately 1,000 feet along its south side.
This area includes the pier’s ferry landing, which would have to be relocated to the north side. The ferry transports commuters between southwest Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Rockaways.
Reaction was swift, with residents such as Marcela Mitaynes expressing fear “that we’re going to lose the waterfront as a public space” and that three years could lead to future extensions and privatization.
The 58th Street Pier is currently the “only point of access to the waterfront in this district,” noted Jeremy Laufer, district manager of Community Board 7, which formed a 58th Street Pier Ad Hoc Committee to liaise with the city Economic Development Corporation (EDC) on behalf of residents.
In response to such concerns, the EDC met in late June with residents to answer questions and present more details about the proposal. According to the EDC, the public would still be able to access the pier for fishing and enjoying the view, as well as for potential additional public programs.
However, for some, concerns remain.
“We get the “promise” of future programming at the pier,” said Lyn Massimo. “Why can’t the deal be hinged on those programs happening, be contingent on this guaranteed money and space for the community?”
Lifelong 58th Street resident Antonio Lopez shared the sentiment, noting how the abandoned warehouses in the area need to be spruced up, as well, and stating that “the ferry and the pier should be utilized more [not less], with more activities and maybe food vendors.”
“I think the EDC is getting better at responding as people are starting to speak up,” added Mitaynes. “I think this community was asleep for a really long time and now people are turning anger into action.”
CB7, the EDC and community advocates such as UPROSE and local elected officials continue to discuss the details and will be holding more meetings on the issue this fall.