Brooklyn Heights

Letter to the Editor: Opponents of Pier 6 — What is your ‘real bone of contention?’

July 14, 2015 By Ursula Hahn For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Bridge Park has chosen RAL Development Services and Oliver’s Realty Group to develop the project.

On July 9, I attended a presentation of the latest projections of revenue, maintenance and operations (M&O) costs and reserves by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation.

Among the attendees were persons who, according to previous press reports, have consistently called into question — and continue to do so — detailed estimates and demand still more “background data” and  now even information on former and current preservation techniques used to keep the piers’ wood pilings in good repair and their respective costs. Judging from relentlessly questioning the veracity of estimates presented, the critics seem to suspect that the figures are “cooked” to justify Pier 6 development, which their own experts consider superfluous. 

Sorely lacking from the opponents’ playbook is the historical memory and perspective of the many community leaders and groups and a large number of anonymous individuals who labored for decades to make this park a reality, and the acceptance that compromise is necessary to transform any idealized vision into reality.

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Lest the critics forget, the park’s history began in the late 1980s with a public review at the community board level of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s plan to sell the piers to the highest bidder. This led to the idea of a park, the start of a slow and arduous process with many compromises along the way. 

The opponents weren’t here to lay the groundwork when the leading park proponents and our communities extending from Farragut Houses to Cobble Hill had to beg elected officials to support the concept of a park on the abandoned piers. They didn’t help distribute thousands of “Park Here!” postcards at public events, circulate petitions among their neighbors and collect signatures. Nor did they have to lift a finger to get Pier 6 and the Empire Fulton Ferry State and “Main Street” parks included in the park’s footprint, which will now extend to Jay Street.

And when the politicians finally agreed to a Brooklyn Bridge Park, they didn’t have to get busy to ensure that more than one New York state and New York City administration make good on their commitment to the park’s creation and completion. In short, the vast majority of development critics had a park, even if incomplete, handed to them when they moved to the “nabe.”

Instead of completely privatized piers and their uplands densely packed with luxury housing and maybe a crumb thrown to the public in the form of a walkway along the piers’ periphery, the public can call a mile-long park and recreational amenities its own with unique urban and water views, water access (so long, High Line!), and a wide range of activities — absolutely free to anyone who chooses to use them.

The park’s unforeseen attraction and popularity are a clear indication that initial M&O cost estimates are outdated after only five years.

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The opposition causes me to wonder what the real bone of contention is: Assuming the One Brooklyn Bridge Park offering plan included information, as required by law, about the eventual development of the upland portion of Pier 6, how many of the critics live at One Brooklyn Bridge Park, and how many of them purchased lofts facing south that may have all or part of their views blocked?

In the meantime, lawsuits launched by opponents of the needed development have set back the park’s construction and completion by years, with the result that costs have grown without pause and more resources are needed to complete the park than ever anticipated. I hope these delays are the only satisfaction the opponents take home.

Sincerely,

Ursula Hahn

Brooklyn, NY


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