Building the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway
Since 2004, Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI), along with our technical planning partner Regional Plan Association (RPA), has been the catalyst for selecting the route, designing and implementing the 26-mile Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway.
From 2004-2007, BGI and RPA hosted community workshops to develop a Conceptual Plan for the greenway. From 2009-11 BGI and RPA worked directly with NYC DOT to host additional community workshops to get input and feedback for the Implementation Plan.
From Community Vision to Implementation
On June 21, 2012, NYC DOT announced its full Implementation Plan for the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. Under this plan, DOT will divide the route into 23 individual segments, or capital projects, each of which will be designed and built by the City as funding is secured.
Two of these segments – West Street in Greenpoint and Flushing Avenue near the Brooklyn Navy Yard – are already underway as NYC capital projects. BGI is actively seeking funding to move additional segments toward implementation.
An Enduring Partnership
DOT provides for the safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible movement of people and goods in the City of New York.
Maintaining The Greenway's Future
In 2015, BGI launched the country’s first municipal Adopt-a-Greenway program. Several sections of the route have now been adopted and BGI maintains these sites in partnership with non-profit community service providers, corporate volunteer programs, and local residents.
In 2008, BGI and RPA developed a preliminary Plan for Stewardship and Maintenance, which addressed the various long-term requirements of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. Since no single city agency is responsible for maintaining the route, BGI is committed to filling these gaps.
In 2012, NYC DOT finalized its Implementation Plan for the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, but now BGI must build the capacity to maintain the Greenway by raising tens of millions of dollars in additional capital funding from Federal, State and City sources.
BGI studied numerous maintenance revenue models and, in 2013, worked with NYC DOT to create a new city-wide Adopt-a-Greenway program.
As new Greenway segments are implemented, BGI will adopt each of them and secure co-sponsors to fund ongoing maintenance.
BGI also maintains three sites through New York State’s Adopt-a-Highway program.
How You Can Help
Green Spaces Along the Greenway
Brooklyn Greenway Initiative is working on the creation of new green spaces adjacent to the Greenway, including the Naval Cemetery Landscape.
The Naval Cemetery Landscape is a 1.7 acre site developed in partnership with the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. The design is for a landscape of native plants beneficial to pollinators such as bees, moths and butterflies. Ground breaking took place in 2015 and the site opened in 2016.
BGI seeks opportunities to create additional open spaces along the greenway route in order to provide opportunities for envelopment in nature and relief from the built environment. BGI’s open space development emphasizes the restoration of native plant communities that provide habitat and food sources for pollinators and birds.
Here We Come Queens
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A New Partnership
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Naval Cemetery Landscape
The former Naval Hospital Cemetery had been behind a fence, inaccessible to the public since it was decommissioned in the 1920s and the known remains were removed to Cypress Hills.
Now the site will come out from behind the fence as a new open space of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. This site has been designed as a natural area populated exclusively by native plant species that will provide visitors with an escape from urban life.
Through partnership with Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC), Brooklyn Greenway Initiative has designed and funded the restoration of the site and will break ground in late 2014.
The project is a collaboration between BGI, BNYDC, the Horticultural Society of New York (The Hort), TKF Foundation, Marvel Architects, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, Langer Research, GRANT engineering, The Green School environmentally themed high school, and Brooklyn Housing and Community Services (BCHANDS) an operator of assisted living facilities for populations including the chronically homeless.
Design (link to renderings)
A key condition for the site’s design is a deed restriction against ground disturbance. Through consultation with community stakeholders the team has sought to achieve a design and program of human use that is consistent with its former use as a burial ground while capturing its potential as a natural area that offers opportunities for awe and reflection away from the built, social and electronic environments. The site will be accessible only from the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. Visitors will travel across a native black locust boardwalk that hovers above the ground through a meadow designed and planted to maximize the amount of life activity that occurs there. The initial planting layout seeks to evoke prior uses of the site as a cemetery and farm. Plants have been selected for their benefit to pollinators, other insects and birds and for their seasonal color, complementary textures and food they provide to wildlife. The boardwalk will meander around the perimeter of the meadow and pass through a grove of native black cherry trees that will provide a sense of enclosure and natural shelter. The perimeter of the site will be lined with a complement of native tree and shrub species that will block out views of buildings and other aspects of the built environment.
Research (link to research design doc)
The project is one of six nationally funded by TKF Foundation to help document the beneficial effects of nature to various populations. Our focus is on youth who are in high school, a time when they are making many of the decisions that will affect their life trajectory, and on vulnerable populations challenged by life in NYC’s complex urban environment. Christopher Weiss of Langer Research will conduct the research program. Chris was formerly Director of the quantitative research masters degree program at Columbia University. The research will result in a peer reviewed published study. Together with the other five TKF funded projects, it will build on a growing body of science that demonstrates the important role nature plays in the development of human intelligence, social and emotional capabilities and capacity for regeneration and healing.
Funding has been provided by:
NYS Department of State under Title 11 of the NYS Environmental Protection Fund
NYC Council Member Steve Levin
Former NYC Council Member Letitia James
Media (link to these docs)
Architects Newspaper – New Life
Architects Newspaper – Drawing a Line
L Magazine – What to Do with that Old Cemetery (link to article)
Research Press Release
Slides (link to cemetery PPT doc) Design (link to renderings)
Visioning and Planning the Greenway
Working with community groups, public agencies, elected officials and technical partners, Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) and Regional Plan Association produced a comprehensive set of planning documents which have guided the development of the greenway over the past decade. Please contact us if you have questions or would like additional information about any of the planning processes.
- Conceptual Plans
- Plan for Greenpoint & Williamsburg (Community Board 1)
- Design Principles
- Stewardship Plan
- Green Spaces
- Greenpoint/Williamsburg Open Space Plan
- Briefing Book: Columbia Street Waterfront Park
- Park Node Site Analysis: Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital Memorial Site
- Briefing Book: Columbia Street Connector
- Naval Hospital Cemetery Site presentation (November 2011)
- Stormwater Infrastructure
- West Street Watershed Stormwater Project Fact Sheet
- Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Stormwater Management Plan