Meet the River Heads

REGINA MYER PUT BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK ON THE MAP, HERE SHE NAMES HER FAVORITE SPOTS IN THE PARK

Regina Myer, the long time president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation is moving on to head the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. But first, she shared the park’s best escapes

By PAUL SAMULSKI

PHOTOS: IMAGES 1-2/ETIENNE FROSSARD; IMAGES 3-5/JULIENNE SCHAER

Kayak polo. Hide n’ Seek Shakespeare. A pop up pool and pick up basketball. Gelato, great views and green spaces. Is there anything the Brooklyn Bridge Park doesn’t offer? Um, no. And while lots of folks have been involved in creating and promoting the 85-acre hotspot, the guiding hand has belonged to Regina Myer, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation since 2008. Myer recently announced she will become the president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership in November, but before she moved on, she shared her secret Brooklyn Bridge Park sanctuaries with us, and her hopes for the park’s future.

UrbanCoast.nyc: You’ve got an exciting new job, but are so identified with the Brooklyn Bridge Park!  What do you see as your legacy?

Myer: Establishing one of New York City’s great waterfronts.  The park, with its wonderful mix of everyday activities and cultural partners, has a phenomenal visitorship of over 4 million people a year. That’s a testament to how strong the desire to touch the water is!  BBP is a truly democratic, and enduring open space.

UrbanCoast: What’s your advice to your successor?

Myer: Whoever comes next should always be open to new ideas. Brooklyn Bridge Park has a tremendous capacity to constantly evolve.

UrbanCoast: You’re probably not supposed to play favorites, but what are your favorite escapes in the park?  

Myer: Well, that’s one of the things that’s so amazing about the design of the park. Every pier and every section is different, which parenthetically is quite hilarious because every individual project was hard and we got really good at doing it, and then we never did it again…which was sort of a bummer.  However there’s one really special place for me over on Pier 1, which was our first major project where we got a chance to build all this really wonderful topography, with the great lawns of Harbor View and Bridge View. There are two things that people don’t focus on in terms of it’s overall beauty.  One is the peaceful little lawn in between these two larger lawns, which we lovingly call the Vale.  It’s in the middle of all this activity, but it is still, to me, one of my absolute favorite places in the park.

Right behind the Vale is this wonderful small path that takes you from the ferry landing up to the Harbor View view lawn. It’s not a main path.  It’s quite small, but when I walk along it I often think that this is why you build a waterfront park. You have all these fantastic views and can take in all the activity of the waterfront but still experience these wonderful moments, whether you’re by yourself or not, where you simply reflect and get lost in all the amazing landscapes that we created.

UrbanCoast: Now that you’ve given all of us a reason to go visit The Vale, any other suggestions?

Myer: We really did have the same opportunity out on the end of Pier 6.  It was originally conceived as this fantastic playground and when it opened in 2010 it became “the image” of the park for families in New York City. When we finally got the money to build out the landscape on the concrete deck we were also presented with the other opportunity to create this wonderful system of lawns plus a flower field that’s dominated by native wildflowers. It became a really gorgeous, peaceful part of the park in one of the most unexpected locations. Visitors are drawn to the water’s edge by this system of paths and lawns infused with nature in this really crazy way, right on top of a concrete deck.  I just love that!

UrbanCoast: If you had kept going, what else would you have added?

Myer: More, larger facilities for athletics.  I know the local community would really appreciate that.

UrbanCoast:  When you daydream about other possible urban planning opportunities that excite you, what are they?

Myer: I recognize how much opportunity there is in places that just haven’t gotten any “love” recently and I’m intrigued by some of them. The fringes of the Navy Yard.  Commodore Barry Park.  The Farrugut Houses.  Probably because they’re all within our reach. I’m also intrigued by the trolley.  It could be really exciting.   

UrbanCoast:  So, what have you been reading, or listening to, or watching lately?

Myer: I just read Sweetbitter on the beach and have just started The Underground Railroad.  With regard to music, I’m am old school Prince, Stevie, Paul McCartney fan, but my kids try to keep me young. I love the new Frank Ocean CD, and also older Kanye and Kendrick Lamar.

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