Is Brooklyn Bridge Beach the next ‘stay-cation’ location?

The Brooklyn Bridge's beach area. Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
The Brooklyn Bridge’s beach area. Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED Aug 1, 2013  |  UPDATED Aug 14, 2013  |  BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | Despite a steady rain, Borough of Manhattan President Scott Stringer and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn were upbeat. On Aug. 1, they stood on the esplanade under the Brooklyn Bridge and announced that the small, garbage-filled stretch of beach behind them was about to be upgraded.

Stringer’s office had already allocated $3.5 million to fix up the 11,000-square-foot beach, which is a natural formation in the East River. He and Quinn announced that City Council was kicking in another $3.5 million to augment and transform the beach into an amenity that could be used for fishing, human-powered boating and wading.

“Isn’t it beautiful,” Stringer said enthusiastically, as he showed off a rendering of the proposed beach. “This is going to be an amazing part of Manhattan that people will flock to.

“I’m going to spend my retirement years right here, reading about all the politicians,” he said jokingly — not that he hopes to be retiring any time soon. He is running against Eliot Spitzer to become the city’s next comptroller.

The Brooklyn Bridge Beach announcement gave Stringer and mayoral candidate Quinn a good-news opportunity to stand in front of the cameras with the primary election less than six weeks away.

Stringer described the beach as the “first project of the proposed East River Blueway Plan.” This plan for the East River waterfront from 38th Street to the Brooklyn Bridge was developed by his office starting in 2010. The final report was published in March 2013.

“As the community and our stakehAolders were working on the plan, we raised the issue of storm mitigation,” Stringer said. “Even some years ago, we realized that if we did not create access to the waterfront and at the same time put in protection against possible storm surge, we would have serious trouble.”

He said that a lot of the recommendations in the plan “will go a long way toward keeping this community safe.” The beach itself should be protective as well as plantings that will border it.

Quinn said that, “Brooklyn Bridge Beach will transform what has often been an unused and forgotten stretch of waterfront into a premiere ‘stay-cation’ as well as a tourist destination. We know this will help spur economic growth in Lower Manhattan which is something that, post-Sandy, is incredibly important.”

She said that part of New York’s historic greatness comes from “our reality as a river city but at some point, we literally and figuratively turned our back on the river. This project is part of our ongoing efforts in the Council and in the Manhattan Borough President’s office to reclaim our waterfront and its potential.”

Other attendees at the press conference near the bridge included Councilmember Margaret Chin and Catherine McVay Hughes, Community Board 1’s chairperson.

Stringer and Quinn were vague as to when Brooklyn Bridge Beach would be ready for use. “As soon as possible,” said Stringer. “We’re working on it. We have to get funding. This is a long-term project.”

“When you’ve got a pot of money to do one part of the park – do it,” said Quinn, “because when that part gets done, like this park, people will flock here and that attention and energy create momentum which brings more money and gets you on to the next stage.”

Asked whether the impending change in administration might affect the beach development plans, mayoral candidate Quinn replied jocularly, “We’re good. No worries about the beach in the future administration. We’re good.”

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announcing money for a park at the Brooklyn Bridge beach. Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announcing money for a park at the Brooklyn Bridge beach. To the left are Borough President Scott Stringer and Councilmember Margaret Chin. New York State Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and C.B.1 chair Catherine McVay Hughes are to the right. Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer