Design your own park: Newtown Barge and Box St parks brainstorming meeting recap

by Heather Van De Mark on

Last week, the NYC Parks Dept., NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn (OSA) invited community members, elected officials, and stakeholder groups to a “listening session” to review the upcoming Newtown Barge Park and Box Street Park projects. The listening session became a brainstorming session as attendees were broken into two groups, in which each group discussed each park, and the features and programs they would like to see.

Martin Maher, Chief of Staff for Parks, led the meeting and reinforced that people shouldn’t get caught up in the details such as feasibility or cost. Instead, he encouraged everyone to provide general ideas and throw out whatever their open-space-loving-hearts desired.

Several of the attendees noted that it was a difficult task because the two parks shouldn’t be viewed separately from each other or from the rest of the waterfront greening that is expected to come to the area. Attendees wanted to discuss Newtown Barge and Box in a bigger picture, holistic way. But Maher emphasized that this meeting wasn’t about the specific design but broad ideas, and that the projects have designers who will incorporate the ideas in a way that utilizes the whole area.

After the public listening session, the EDC (who is responsible for the project) and Stantec (who will be designing the parks) will start the design process. They’ll continually check in with several different groups including: Community Board 1, Parks Dept., Public Design Commission, City Planning Commission and possibly the Mayor’s Office, to ensure the design fits each group’s respective parameters.

An optimistic time-table is for the design to wrap in 2014 and for construction to begin in 2015. Again, that’s an idealistic time-table where the projects are also fast-tracked for completion.

Below are the suggestions for features and programs to be included at the park sites. For simplicity and because so many of the ideas overlapped, I’ve combined suggestions for each park together, as well as done my best to group them together by topic. If you want to make a suggestion for the park, e-mail within the next 3-4 weeks. Doing so is really the main opportunity for individual community residents to have a voice in the process.

Brainstorming Ideas for Box St. Park & Newtown Barge Park

  • Athletic fields
  • Youth Athletic (football) fields
  • Basketball courts
  • Softball fields
  • Soccer field
  • Clay tennis courts
  • Fields with lights
  • Bocce ball courts
  • Mountain biking/pump track
  • Running area without disruptions from other sports (balls crossing paths)
  • Passive, pick-up sports space (ultimate frisbee)
  • No athletic fields, just passive park space
  • Adult exercise equipment
  • Waterfront access, pier
  • Open view of waterfront
  • Kayak launch
  • Gardens (with native perennials), trees
  • Urban farm
  • Hills, pathways
  • Green roofs
  • Benches, cafe tables
  • Stepped seating (created landform)
  • Garbage cans, recycling bins, compost stations
  • Drinking fountains
  • Bike racks
  • Historical/environmental educational signage
  • Public art
  • Mural, graffiti wall
  • Chess
  • Lookout tower
  • Community Rec Center
  • Comfort Station
  • No bandshell
  • Dog run
  • Tram to LIC
  • WWII monument
  • Floating pool
  • Underground parking
  • Free WiFi
  • Solar panel charging stations
  • Powered by renewable energy
  • Bioswales, eco-friendly design choices
  • Water play feature
  • Tween play area
  • Greenmarkets, compost pick-up
  • Movie nights
  • Small/large concerts
  • No privatization of parks
  • Reducing park hours, locking park, due to homeless problem

Again, if you want to make an official suggestion for the parks, e-mail within the next 3-4 weeks.

We’d also love to hear what you think, so leave your ideas in the comments too!

Click to view NYC Parks and NYCEDC presentation “Box Street and Newtown Barge Parks [PDF].

For more information about the Newtown Barge and Box Street Parks, click the image above or visit the NYC Parks Project Description page.

Heather Van De Mark

Heather Van De Mark

Heather is a designer/writer specializing in non-profit organizations and social causes. Originally from central NY, Heather settled into the charming Greenpoint neighborhood in 2011. While most of her community activism takes place from behind a computer screen, Heather can often be found at CB1 meetings, the McCarren Park track and any of the parks along the waterfront.
  • Steve commented:

    This area absolutely needs a large dog run and it would be great if dogs were allowed on the grass areas in the early morning as well! Thanks!


  • Chris commented:

    Hi – thank you for the update. Will GWAPP create a position on the programming of the parks?

    I am mostly concerned how there is almost no passive recreation space.



    GWAPP commented:

    Hi Chris, It’s still early in the process–they’ve attempted to have an open dialogue with the community, and we can appreciate that. We don’t want to make a statement too soon and have it stifle that dialogue. We’ll be waiting to see what they present at the CB1 meeting before deciding on making an official statement.