Brooklyn Heights

Legal hardball: Brooklyn Heights preservationists put more muscle behind ‘Save the View Now’

Brooklyn Bridge Park defends alterations adamantly

April 27, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Heights preservationists are rolling out a campaign to raise serious money for the legal fight to reduce the height of the Pierhouse development in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo by Mary Frost
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No more hand-made flyers and five dollar bills gathered in a passed hat.

Brooklyn Heights residents working to save the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Promenade are rolling out a campaign to raise serious money to fight what they say is an oversized development at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP).

The advocates, including well-known Heights preservationists Scott Hand and Otis Pearsall, are buttonholing their well-off neighbors and are asking for – and receiving — four- and five-figure donations.

The money will go to a foundation started by a community group, Save the View Now, headed by Heights resident Steven Guterman. (The foundation is called People for Preserving the View Foundation.)

Save the View Now obtained a partial Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) last week halting the construction of the penthouse portion of the Pierhouse development, pending the outcome of a lawsuit the group filed on April 21.

The Pierhouse project, which appears to be roughly 30 percent higher, in the taller section, than community groups expected, has pitted Heights preservationists against the current park board members, who claim the height of the buildings is permitted under city law.

Hand and Pearsall were both instrumental in the shaping of Brooklyn Bridge Park, as members of the Brooklyn Heights Association and as representatives on CB2’s Piers Subcommittee. Pearsall helped negotiate the 100-foot height limit on the taller of the two buildings in the Pierhouse project, and the 55-foot limit on the smaller one.

In an emailed request for donations, the preservationists say the construction has already caused “significant obstruction” of the bridge from the Promenade. They also warn that the height of the southern portion of the complex threatens views across the East River.

The height of the buildings “is in violation of agreements that were reached in 2005-2006,” they say, adding that the BBP board has “‘stonewalled’ every attempt to remedy the problem.”

BBP refutes the notion that they failed to abide by the agreed-upon height limit. BBP said in a statement last Wednesday, “This lawsuit is an unfortunate attempt to enshrine the unprotected views of a select few at the expense of the millions who use the park.”

BBP added, “These buildings comply with the park’s General Project Plan and the Brooklyn Heights Scenic View District. We’re confident that the plaintiff’s spurious claims will not be permitted to interfere with the completion of the Pier 1 project, which will provide critical funding to keep the park safe and well-maintained for park visitors for years to come.”

Save the View Now has retained Jeffrey Baker of Young/Sommer, a law firm in Albany, who is a member of the executive committee of the Environmental Law Section of the New York State Bar Association. A number of lawyers from Brooklyn Heights are contributing their advice, as members of the legal committee.

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