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How BBP Prepares for Winter

by Brooklyn Bridge Park on Dec 11, 2015

A park on the waterfront brings unique rewards along with unique challenges. The views are superb, the surrounding environments diverse and vibrant. The challenges come and go with the seasons—the harbor’s cool summer breeze becomes a freezing winter wind, and the park has to be ready for that change. Some parts of the park are perpetually prepared while others require a more hands-on approach to winter prep.

Months before the mercury drops, BBP begins winter preparations. One of the first steps is to order the season’s supply of ice melt, which helps keep paths ice-free and open. Ordering enough ice melt is a crucial task since purchasing more mid-season is often impossible. To determine the right amount, past years’ orders are compared and considered in light of the newly opened park areas. For the coming winter, BBP ordered two tractor-trailers full of ice melt totaling 99,000 pounds. It’s no easy task to get it where it needs to be, but Operations expects to use all of their stock this season.

With more of the park opening to the public, keeping it open during the winter becomes increasingly labor-intensive each year. Shovels, snowblowers, and melt spreaders have to be ordered to cover the new areas, and old equipment repaired, too. Our operations staff holds a special training session to refresh everyone’s winter protocol knowledge before any inclement weather arrives. Smaller water mains, like the lines that serve water fountains and sprinklers, are cleared by blowing compressed air through them so they don’t freeze and burst. Finally, summer furniture is brought in and snow removal equipment distributed throughout the park to await the inevitable winter weather.
Men standing around a snow blower.Training for winter
BBP’s gardeners make a number of preparations, too. One of the most important steps is to make sure the ground is covered. Much of the park’s ground coverage comes from a layer of leaves, twigs, and other material naturally shed by plants. Some areas, such as ornamental beds, need a little help with coverage and so get mulched in late fall. Full coverage helps protect plants’ roots and ensure their health through the winter and into the spring. Pruning trees during the winter is also critical; proper pruning protects trees and prevents collapses decades down the line.

People walking along a path covered in snow by the water on a sunny day.

© Etienne Frossard

Every year, BBP’s staff works hard to make sure the park stays open, accessible, and safe throughout the winter. After the preparations are complete and the season takes hold, the staff can take a breather knowing that when the weather hits, we will be ready. And the slower winter season provides a great opportunity for another important task: preparing for spring.
©Etienne Frossard

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