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Still waiting for green space

Negotiations between the MTA and city’s Economic Development Corporation over the relocation of a bus maintenance depot and emergency response facility on 65 Commercial Street have slowed to a standstill, as Greenpoint residents await the development of a park promised to the neighborhood more than three years ago.

“Three years after the rezoning, Greenpoint residents still don’t have a park and the interagency blame game isn’t getting them any closer,” Councilmember David Yassky said. “It’s time for MTA and the city to stop bickering with each other and come to the table to keep their promises to Greenpoint residents.”

In April 2005, as part of the Greenpoint waterfront rezoning, the MTA agreed to seek an alternative site for its facilities, allowing the Parks Department to convert the Commercial Street location into parkland, known as Barge Park, and a youth soccer field.

The MTA’s transfer of the site was dependent on the city identifying and acquiring a suitable alternative for the emergency response facility and the transit depot, though the replacement sites did not need to be located next to each other. The Economic Development Corporation offered five different locations for the facility, but the MTA has refused all of them, claiming that the sites provided were not appropriate for their needs.

“We do plan to relocate the property as promised when the appropriate relocation site can be found,” said MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan. “Our understanding is that the city will renew its current inventory of available properties and we will meet up and compare notes. That meeting has not been scheduled.”

In May 2005, the City Council allocated $14 million in capital budget appropriations in the 2007 Fiscal Year Executive Budget for the creation of the open space and relocation of MTA facilities, and the city remains financially prepared to buy the property from the MTA, though it has not been designated in the current Council budget. Assemblymember Joseph Lentol and Yassky, both frustrated at the delays that have plagued the park’s development, wrote MTA Commissioner Dale Hemmerdinger last month inquiring about the status of the proposed park site.

“As of yet I have not heard a response from Mr. Hemmerdinger about 65 Commercial, but it is high time that the MTA honored their promise to this community and it is my sincere hope that Mr. Hemmerdinger will do the right thing by this community and make [the site] a priority. If I don’t hear from them soon, I will be pursuing the issue further,” said Lentol.

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