DDC: Ian Michaels, 646-939-6514, email@example.com
(Brooklyn, NY – June 21, 2021) The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today joined with the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), elected officials and environmental and community groups to cut the ribbon on the newly expanded Newtown Creek Nature Walk in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The project includes an over-water extension connecting the existing section of the Walk, on the west side of Whale Creek, to a new land-based portion on the east side of the Creek, which extends to Kingsland Avenue. The expanded Nature Walk – designed by artist George Trakas as a commission through DCLA’s Percent for Art Program – is now accessible to the public from either side of DEP’s 53-acre Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility. DEP funded the project, which began in 2019, and the construction was managed by DDC.
“As we continue the important work of restoring the health of Newtown Creek, expanding the Nature Walk and providing uninterrupted public access to the waterfront helps us engage all New Yorkers in this critical effort,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “Thank you to George Trakas for his wonderful design, to our partners at DDC for their excellent construction management, and to the elected officials and environmental and community groups for their tireless advocacy for an expanded Nature Walk!”
“George Trakas's thoughtful, immersive Nature Walk shows how art can transform our public spaces into something exciting, engaging, and even a little surprising," said DCLA’s Percent for Art Director Kendal Henry. "We applaud our agency partners on completing this latest segment and welcome all New Yorkers to come take a stroll through the Nature Walk."
“The completion of Newtown Creek Nature Walk takes on more significance as the City opens up again after the pandemic and our fellow New Yorkers emerge and make more use of their open spaces,” said DDC Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer. “What’s more, the design of this project is truly innovative, takes advantage of its unique surroundings, and will be an enduring resource for the City and its residents.”
“From its muscular digester eggs to its lush greenery, the Newtown Creek Nature Walk is one of my favorite places in NYC. This newly expanded path illustrates the ambitions of our forthcoming Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, as well as the City’s commitment to a clean and accessible waterfront. It’s a nature walk that meets an industrial canal that meets essential municipal infrastructure – quintessentially New York!” said Department of City Planning Director Marisa Lago.
“I was proud to work to have Newtown Creek designated a superfund site and ensure we continue the critical remediation work that will keep our community safe from the toxins that have plagued the area for over a century,” said U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney. “Expanding the nature walk and providing residents with public access to the waterfront area is a critical step forward in our effort to make the area healthier and safer for all New Yorkers.”
“As we ease back into our ‘new normal’ of reconnecting with family, friends, and coworkers, it’s an added joy to be able to also reconnect with nature by means of our parks and community greenspaces,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Greenpoint’s newly-expanded Newtown Creek Nature Walk not only grants the public unobstructed access to both east and west sides of the Walk, but also provides visitors with serene, open spaces in which to commune with the natural beauty along its waterfront. Congratulations to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), and the project's various community partners for the collaborative work and creative foresight that has taken this mission from concept to long-overdue reality.”
“Today marks another milestone in the transformation of our relationship to the long-abused but always resilient Newtown Creek. Through the stewardship of the Department of Environmental Protection and other City agencies, elected officials, environmental advocates and the local community, visitors can now enjoy an expanded Nature Walk, thoughtful and inspiring design, and even more access to the waterfront than ever before. It's a great day for Greenpoint and our entire city,” said Assembly Member Emily Gallagher.
“I am beyond pleased to see the expanded Newtown Creek Nature Walk in Greenpoint, which is now accessible from both sides of DEP’s 53-acre Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “Now more than ever, we must invest in green and open spaces - and the pandemic has emphasized the importance of nature, health and fitness, and disconnecting. Now, as the work continues to restore the health of the Creek, we must also ensure we are protecting the health of New Yorkers - this is something which will positively impact the physical and mental health of my constituents and so I thank DEP, DCLA, DDC and all those involved in the process for working to make this a reality.”
“When the first phase of the Newtown Creek Nature Walk opened in 2007, it was the first true investment by the government in reconnecting the community to our long neglected and notoriously inaccessible waterway,” said Willis Elkins, Executive Director of the Newtown Creek Alliance. “This unique open space has not just provided recreational and educational opportunities for local residents, workers and students - it has offered a successful model for integrating waterfront access and ecological improvements within a dense industrial area. We couldn't be more excited to see the new phases, and entrance at Kingsland Ave, finally complete. Much appreciation to DEP, DDC, DCLA, George Trakas, NCMC and everyone who has made this one of a kind project a reality.”
As part of the expansion, three 60-foot-long bow-shaped vessels made of galvanized steel with connecting ramps, bridges and a central “turret” seating area were constructed to connect the existing Nature Walk to the opposite, eastern side of Whale Creek. There, a 430-foot-long area has been landscaped with trees, shrubs and grasses, and features ample seating and shade structures, bicycle racks, water fountains, several rain gardens and five 380-million-year-old boulder-sized tree fossils found near the City’s upstate Schoharie Reservoir. The public can now access the Nature Walk from either Kingsland Avenue or Paidge Avenue.
The newly opened section of the Walk also expands upon what visitors observed in Phase I. On the gunwales of the vessels extending over Whale Creek are etched the evolutionary history of the earth, beginning with early stages of energy and evolving into coalescence into elements and later lifeforms. The turret section includes seating for visitors to rest, contemplate this journey and view DEP’s working dock where skimmer, laboratory and sludge vessels make regular appearances. In the newly opened portion of the Walk on the east side of Whale Creek is an etching of the Monitor that was built in a Greenpoint shipyard in 1863, a water fountain carved into a 3.4-billion-year-old rock, imprints of bare feet and moon boots and solar-powered light bollards etched with the names of navigational star constellations.
The Nature Walk was created by environmental sculpture artist George Trakas in collaboration with landscape architect Quennell Rothschild & Partners, lighting design firm, L’Observatoire International, Greeley and Hansen/Hazen and Sawyer/Arcadis Joint Venture, Burns Engineering and Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers as a commission of DCLA’s Percent for Art program. It received Awards for Excellence in Design from the Public Design Commission in 2016 and 2020. Since 1982, New York City's Percent for Art law has required that one percent of the budget for eligible City-funded construction projects be spent on public artwork. Managed by DCLA, the program has commissioned hundreds of site-specific projects in a variety of media by artists whose sensibilities reflect the diversity of New York City.
More images are available on the DEP’s Flickr page here.
About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15.5 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit nyc.gov/ddc.
About the NYC Department of Environmental Protection
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing approximately 1 billion gallons of high-quality drinking water each day to more than 9 million residents, including 8.3 million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $20.1 billion in investments over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit nyc.gov/dep, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.
About the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City’s vibrant cultural life. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City’s five boroughs. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/culture.