Can a Temporary Park Change Lifestyles in Brooklyn?

A pop-up park in Williamsburg has brought bike tracks, an urban farm, an outdoor 'reading room', and other amenities to Brooklyn's historically industrial waterfront. Can the temporary oasis bring lasting change to its users?
July 22, 2013, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Sarah Goodyear tours Havemeyer Park, "a one-year pop-up installation that takes up half a city block near the old Domino Sugar factory on the Brooklyn waterfront." The park is the product of a unique collaboration between bike track designer Jim Dellavalle, event company Bobby Redd, and developer Two Trees, who will soon transform the site into a 3.3-million-square-foot mixed-use project.

"The lot that is now, briefly, Havemeyer Park includes not only Dellavalle’s ingenious and compact bike paradise, known officially as Brooklyn Bike Park, but also an urban farm run by North Brooklyn Farms, a lawn for movie screenings, yoga classes, and music, and what Dellavalle calls 'the reading room' – a placid green space surrounded by flowers where people will be able to choose from donated books (1,000 so far) and relax as they flip the pages," explains Goodyear. "There will also be food served from shipping containers and a deck to eat on," she adds.

Though the park's life will be short lived, Dellavalle has lofty aims for it. “The bike park method is about a few things,” he says. “Social awareness. Physical education. Environmental education. And socialism, straight up. There’s a work ethic. You’ve got to dig to ride, you’ve got to volunteer some time.”

"What’s he’s really trying to build, he tells me, is a culture, a way of approaching life that starts with biking and goes through stormwater management, and who knows where it ends?"

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Published on Friday, July 19, 2013 in The Atlantic Cities
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