By Anthony Deen
One of the challenges facing both the remediation and potential public-use of the Gowanus uplands is that the canal edge is made up of multiple lots that are not owned by any single entity. Many of us look to the High Line park as a comparable project even to the point that the term Low Line has become a common term used to describe a potential park or promenade along the canal. In as much as the High Line team had to address multiple property owners under the High Line there really are some apt comparisons.
Given the difficulty in developing a framework for a single continuous park or promenade along the line of those that exist in Brooklyn Heights is not currently possible. This is not to say that it isn’t achievable at some point but as of this writing the process of say creating zoning incentives in exchange for public easements and set backs doesn’t exist.
On a recent drive north to observe the fall leaves I decided to drive along the Bronx River Parkway. It’s the first time I’ve driven this route in quite some time and I was pleasantly surprised to periodically look out my window and observe little built interventions along the Bronx River.
What I mean by interventions is constructs of a relatively limited scale. These are not part of a continuous beltway nor do they take up substantial portion of the river edge, but rather are a series of distinct moments - programmed activity spaces that have been located adjacent to convenient access points. While I haven’t done an exhaustive review for this brief article, there is a kayak launch, a few benched outlooks, and several small playgrounds. And apparently more amenities are in the offing.
The development of a series of “pocket parks” or similar periodic interventions of the type built along the Bronx River is a much more likely scenario for the greening and public-use of the Gowanus environs.