People gathered at the Manhattan Borough President’s office on Jan. 8 to offer their thoughts on what they would like to see on the redesigned Brooklyn Bridge Esplanade. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Calls for a Beach as Designing Begins for Brooklyn Bridge Esplanade

Last week, the city kicked off its public design process for the Brooklyn Bridge Esplanade, the quarter-mile stretch of East River waterfront from Peck Slip to Catherine Slip. But it was a small sandy patch, just 191 feet long and lapped by the river’s waves, that grabbed much of the attention.

For more than a decade, advocates have called for the city to turn the officially off-limits sliver of sand, popularly known as Brooklyn Bridge Beach, into an accessible, fun-in-the-sun destination. And that was the message again at the Jan. 8 public outreach meeting, where the city’s Economic Development Corp., the agency that manages the property, solicited ideas for the soon-to-take-shape esplanade plan.

Improvements to seating, lighting, bike and pedestrian paths and landscaping are part of the $21 million project. So, too, is “shoreline access.” But what that means exactly is yet to be determined.

“All the other frickin’ boroughs in the city have a beach, and we need a beach,” announced Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, whose office hosted this first “community outreach phase” of the design.

Seated at tables, with maps, markers and Post-Its at hand, participants were asked to give their priorities for the Brooklyn Bridge Esplanade, one segment of the two-mile-long East River Waterfront Esplanade that runs from the Battery Maritime Building to Montgomery Street.

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