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The postage-stamp "absurdity" of AY's "Main Lawn"

Central Park's Great Lawn is 15 acres. Prospect Park's Longmeadow is 90 acres.

The "Main Lawn" of Atlantic Yards would be .25 acres. That's a quarter of an acre. See the circular squiggle, between three towers, in the eastern third of the 22-acre project.

(The larger green circle at left is the arena roof, some 150 feet up, which would be private open space. Design by Laurie Olin. Below, a rendering of the project by the Environmental Simulation Center for the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods.)

My suburban quarter-acre

How could a quarter of an acre not be inundated by the new Atlantic Yards population--at least 15,000--or some fraction of the thousands of people visiting the Brooklyn arena? Could this really be, as the Atlantic Yards web site promises, "publicly accessible open space that everyone can enjoy"?

By way of comparison, other quarter-acre sites include the Rose Main Reading Room of the New York Public Library, the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City, and the habitat deemed insufficient for the elephants at the Philadelphia Zoo. It's so typical a plot size for suburban homes that Quarter Acre has entered Australian and New Zealand English as a slang term.

According to the design guidelines that are part of the General Project Plan released by the Empire State Development Corporation:
Main Lawn
i. The Block 1121/112 open space shall include a sloped lawn area with a minimum size of 0.2 acres, such space to be located within the area identified on Figure 2.2 attached to these Open Space Design Guidelines. The lawn shall be sited to optimize solar exposure and may include one row of trees along its perimeter within the Main Lawn area.


Comparison & criticism

OK, it's not quite fair to compare the open space at a development project with that at a major park. Still, the lawns at Battery Park City are considerably larger and none is given the hubristic title of "Main Lawn."

(At BPC, about one-third of the land is parks, as would be the ratio at AY, but the parks at BPA serve a smaller residential population per acre, and many came before the first phase of the project, unlike the plans for AY.)

Commented Community Board 2 (in an observation I missed in my post last month about CB 2):
The active recreation space created as part of the project is very limited. The design guidelines (Figure 3.4) illustrate what appears to be a half-court basketball court, one tennis court, two or three small playgrounds and a pair of linear features that are not graphically understandable. It is a gross misrepresentation, because of the size and the more likely passive use, to consider the quarter-acre “main lawn” an active recreation space. That a quarter-acre of open space is called the “main lawn” borders on absurdity.
(Emphasis added)

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