NEW YORK - It's been called a plan to build a park "out of thin air." The 3.5-acre BQ Green park is proposed to sit directly above a portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. It's the brainchild of Williamsburg native Diana Reyna. The former New York City councilmember introduced the idea back in 2006.
"It is a community coming together to be able to address what has been a century-old injustice, environmental injustice," Reyna says.
The plan involves capping parts of the BQE with a series of new and existing street bridges, turning that new overpass into a park. It's an idea that boasts strong support from Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, who grew up in this neighborhood.
"Our kids, when they are playing, or our seniors, when they're resting or sitting down on a bench, have to suck in the fumes of the highway," he tells CBS New York's Hannah Kliger.
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Susannah Drake is a landscape architect specializing in public space. She worked on the initial feasibility study in 2010 and has been involved in advocating for the concept ever since.
"The bridges that go over the BQE are really at the end of their lifespan. So we can capitalize on that, that obsolescence of infrastructure to build this park," says Drake, who serves as principal of design firm Sasaki.
Key players want to take advantage of a window of opportunity, by receiving a federal grant through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. They have been pushing for it for months, and this fall, both the city and state's Departments of Transportation have confirmed to CBS New York that they have applied for the grants to advance their proposal. It's a big step for a project that spent more than a decade on a shelf.
The highway is owned by the state, but the land around it, including the parks, are owned by the city.
It's not going to be cheap, but for community leaders who say they're plagued with high asthma rates and a severe lack of parks, the fight won't end until they see more green in their streets.
"We are the third district with the least amount of park space in the city of New York, based on population. And that was then, before the development. Imagine today," Reyna says.
A spokesperson for the New York City Department of Transportation says the Adams administration hopes to further refine the plan and continue with public engagement.
A new feasibility study is needed to determine an exact cost, likely to be in the hundreds of millions.
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