After years of complaints, broken bones and at least one lawsuit, the $11 million reconstruction of Borough Hall Plaza has begun.
The crumbling bluestone paving has been disintegrating for more than a decade, the victim of parked vehicles and winter salt. Several people have fallen on the pockmarked plaza, and in 2010 Joan Bassin, then 71, fractured her hip on the slate, according to published reports.
The contractor chosen by the New York City Parks Department, Restani Construction Corp., installed their field office last week and erected fencing in preparation for the job, which includes the removal of the existing bluestone and the installation of reinforced “Jet Mist” granite, which resembles bluestone. The stretch of Columbus Park known as Rose Walk will be resurfaced with colored concrete scored to match the adjoining areas.
Repairing the public plaza has long been a priority for Borough President Eric Adams, who promised to fix the dangerous paving even before he was elected as BP.
“Borough Hall Plaza is the welcome mat for all of Brooklyn, and it should be as welcoming as possible,” he told theBrooklyn Eagle. “Wear and tear has made the space unattractive and unsafe, especially for the elderly and disabled. That is why getting this necessary restoration funded has been a priority since my campaign for this office began.”
Adams added, “I am proud that, working with the Department of Parks and Recreation as well as Councilmember Stephen Levin, we have been able to make this fix possible. Before we know it, Borough Hall Plaza will once again be the community common space we have long come to love and treasure.”
“Community Board 2 has been concerned for quite some time,” CB2’s District Manager Robert Perris told theEagle. “We’re pleased the mayor and the borough president made this a priority.”
Parks Department spokesperson Maeri Ferguson told the Eagle, “A combination of factors including weather and usage contributed to the deterioration of the bluestone at Brooklyn Borough Hall, and while the new granite tiles set to be installed are stronger than bluestone, they will also be reinforced by a concrete base for added strength.”
Ferguson said construction is expected to be completed by September 2016.
Borough Hall underwent a massive restoration in the 1980s, with the bluestone paving installed in 1987. In 1989, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis presented the Municipal Art Society award to Borough Hall for the “best restoration of the year” for the $22.9 million restoration.
According to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which approved the repaving project, the paving material and pattern around Borough Hall and within Columbus Park has been repeatedly changed over time. The replacement paving “will maintain unity of the plaza as a whole,” Landmarks said.
Updated at 5:45 p.m. with a quote from the Parks Department.