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Carter's View

A plan by Jane Walentas to erect a carousel at the Empire State-Fulton Ferry Park in Brooklyn in a glass pavilion designed by Jean Nouvel has met with some community opposition, according to an article by Rich Calder published yesterday in The Brooklyn Blog of The New York Post.

Ms. Walentas is the wife of David Walentas, a major property owner and developer in the area around the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn and she purchased the carousel in 1984 at auction and has been restoring it and recently had it installed on a temporary basis in the park awaiting construction of its glass pavilion.

The blog said that "Doreen Gallo, executive director of the DUMBO Neighborhood Association said 'We all love the carousel; we just think it belongs in another part of Brooklyn Bridge Park.' Empire State-Fulton Ferry Park, which will eventually be absorbed into the long-delayed Brooklyn Bridge Park project, saw part of its green space shut down last month as construction began to make room for the carousel. Gallo also questioned why no public input was solicited before the state-city Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp. in December agreed to accept the carousel and put it in the park. The carousel is not addressed in the park's project plan."

The blog said that "Judi Francis, who heads the Park Defense Fund, said Nouvel's designs are typically 'modern,' so it's unlikely that his glass pavilion would fit in with the rest of the historic buildings along the DUMBO waterfront," adding that 'It's hard to guess what his design will be because no one will tell us about it.'"

Elizabeth Mitchell, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp. told the blog that the development corporation is "extremely grateful for this phenomenally generous gift by David and Jane Walentas and is certain the landmark 1922 Carousel will enhance the space and the experience for visitors to Brooklyn Bridge Park. We look forward to sharing further details regarding how this beautifully restored carousel will fit into the landscape along the East River."

"Brooklyn Bridge Park has been a political hot potato since project planners announced in December 2004 that more than 1,200 luxury condos would have to be included to raise enough money to offset the park's now-estimated $16.1 million annual maintenance costs," according to the article, which said "only one high-rise offering 440 luxury units has been built; another 780 units are on hold because of the slumping economy."

Ms. Walentas, it continued, "is also donating $3.45 million for landscaping and other improvements in the park that include lighting to allow the tourist hotspot to remain open well past its current dusk closing time, eventually extending the hours to 1 A.M.," adding that she "would operate the ride through a nonprofit 'Friends of Jane's Carousel,' and any profits from concessions would go towards park maintenance, officials have said."

The carousel comes from Youngstown, Ohio and has 48 horses and two chariots. It was built in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company and it had been an attraction at the Idora Park in Youngstown until it was purchased by Ms. Walentas in 1984 after a fire for $384,000.

Mr. Nouvel is the architect of 40 Mercer Street in SoHo and 100 Eleventh Avenue in Chelsea.
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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.