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Fort Greene residents concerned $5M park upgrades will ‘gentrify’ the green space

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Residents have felt left out of the upgrade process

fort greene park

Fort Greene Park is getting a $5 million upgrade, thanks to the city’s Parks Without Borders program—but according to the Brooklyn Paper, not everyone is sold on the city’s current plans.

At a meeting on Wednesday, the Parks Department presented their preliminary vision for the revamp, which is concentrated on the northwest corner of the park, and involves reworking many of the park’s amenities, from the basketball courts and barbecuing stations to lighting and drainage systems. It would also clear the area around the Prison Ship Martyr’s Monument, adding “wheelchair ramps and a water feature.”

But some residents—many of whom haven’t felt listened to during the community planning process—worry that the upgrades aren’t really designed with locals in mind, DNAInfo reports. On the contrary, they’re concerned the improvements might actually make the park “less accessible, particularly for residents of the public housing complexes directly across the street.”

“We’re concerned about further gentrification and the discouraging of residents of NYCHA housing from actually utilizing that side of the park,” Jason Salmon, a representative of State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, said at the meeting. (This, DNAInfo notes, was met with applause.)

And the potential creep of gentrification isn’t the neighborhood’s only issue: meeting-goers also objected to the amount of time the park may need to be closed for construction, which is expected to take between 10 and 18 months. The NYCHA houses don’t have outdoor spaces, residents said, so the park fills that function—or, as the Brooklyn Paper puts it, “the tree-hugging agency must ensure residents will have somewhere to grill and chill during the makeover.”

Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Marty Maher assured residents the agency would relocate the barbecues to keep them accessible during construction, but said that other areas of the park would indeed have to be closed. “Sometimes you can accommodate,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t.”

Maher advised residents with suggestions or concerns to contact Community Board 2, which could vote on the proposal as early as June. It’s only an advisory vote, though, the paper nots. The final call is up to city agencies ultimately responsible for the touch-up.