Brooklyn Heights

Fractious board meeting pulls Pier 6 in different directions

June 9, 2014 By Matthew Taub Special to Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn Brief
Protesting the Pier 6 construction plan. Photo by Matthew Taub
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At a meeting of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation Thursday, a majority of board members expressed their interest in moving forward with construction of towers on the Pier 6 waterfront. But vociferous opposition from members of the public (along with a several board members aligned with a Community Advisory Council) resulted in the Board’s decision to reconvene in August and discuss the issue further. As responses to the park’s request for development proposals are due July 21, the outcome of Pier 6 remains unclear.

The Board met in the Brooklyn Bridge Park Offices on Furman Street. An overflow audience led to improvisational seating arrangements and occasionally testy dialogue between members of the public and security officers. After discussing a range of less controversial matters–everything from city, state, and private grants, maintenance and rehabilitation of facilities, and the time and location of future meetings–the Board took up the issue of a recent letter from State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assembly member Joan Millman and City Councilman Stephen Levin. The letter expressed concern over the “breakneck” rush towards development despite community concerns, and urged alternative funding models to be explored (Brooklyn Bridge Park is unique in that it must generate revenue and be self-sustaining). The letter further mentioned how the CAC adopted a resolution requesting traffic studies, environmental studies, and a potential Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).

Board member John Raskin was the main source of rather pointed opposition. Polite but forthright, he stressed the need to heed the CAC’s concerns before the RFP process was finished.

“The data and projections we’re relying on might not still be valid,” Raskin said. “Things change. Look at LICH. I’d like to address the CAC’s concerns before the selection of a private developer.”

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When Board Member Regina Myer offered only more superficial traffic studies and parking changes for a vote, Raskin insisted that the full consideration of the CAC’s recommendation be allowed consideration at a later date. “This is not some radical body,” Raskin said, in reference to the CAC.

Councilmember Stephen Levin joined him in support of reconsidering the construction. “You have P.S. 8. This is District 13. Everything is already full. There’s no more pre-K programs available. How are we going to accomodate this influx of residents?”

Most of the Board, however, was satisfied that the development would sustain operations while not creating an undue burden on the area. Various Board Members cited how the general construction plan had been under consideration for about a decade, and stressed the need for the Park to generate revenue so that it could meet its financial obligations.

Members of the public were allowed to weigh in, and offered a number of concerns–an obstruction of sunlight and views, overcrowding of an already popular park, reliance on outdated data failing to reflect a surge of population growth for the area, lack of context and scale, and the recent closure of Long Island College Hospital and the concern about adequate medical assistance and other facilities.

Though request for Proposals are due in late July, the Board can wait to decide on a developer and still consider the CAC’s claims in the August meeting.

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