Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Heights Association drops Pier 6 fight, takes on BQE, jail, school issues

April 3, 2018 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Heights Association says will not appeal a court decision allowing two towers to go up at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, shown above. Rendering courtesy of ODA-RAL Development Services/Oliver’s Realty Group
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The Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) says it will not appeal a court decision allowing two controversial towers to go up at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

BHA filed a lawsuit in 2016 against Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, Empire State Development Corporation and the City of New York, saying that the park broke its agreement to only develop as much property as necessary to cover the annual costs of park maintenance and operations.

Throughout the court proceedings, developers RAL Development and Oliver’s Realty Group continued to work on the towers, taking a risk that they might have to tear them down if BHA won the case.

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On Feb. 16, Justice Carmen Victoria St. George of the state Supreme Court denied BHA’s petition, allowing the developers to proceed with construction.

BHA’s Executive Director Peter Bray told the Brooklyn Eagle that factoring into the community organization’s decision to drop the lawsuit was the fact that an appeal would not be heard for a year or more, “at which point Parcel B tower would be completed and there would be significant progress on the Parcel A tower.”

The likelihood that the court would rule in BHA’s favor is “extremely thin,” Bray said, adding, “and even if it did, the remedy would not accomplish what we were seeking to accomplish — preventing the towers from being built in the first place.”

BHA will be focusing instead on other matters of major importance to Brooklyn Heights and nearby neighborhoods, Bray said.


BQE, Jails, School on BHA’s Agenda

One of these is the upcoming multiyear, $1.9 billion Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) rehabilitation project, which includes the triple-cantilever roadway under the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

BHA has already been credited with leading a successful advocacy campaign that encouraged the NYS Senate to authorize a bidding method that will shave two years off the project. Using the “design-build” bidding method will save the city roughly $113 million, and keep hundreds of thousands of trucks from flooding local streets in 2026.

BHA made the issue the focus of its annual meeting, organized a rally/press conference on the Heights Promenade, led a postcard and the phone call campaign and sponsored a lobbying trip to Albany, keeping pressure on elected officials.

Design-build’s passage is just the first step, however. Even though two years of construction has been eliminated, the BQE reconstruction will cause neighborhood and traffic disruption for four to five years, Bray said, and residents need to stay involved.

“The environmental impact statement is being prepared and there will be the opportunity for public comment on the draft EIS, as well as public participation workshops. That’s an area we want to be significantly involved in,” he said.

Another focus is the city’s plans to expand the Brooklyn House of Detention on Atlantic Avenue as part of the plan to close Rikers.

“This is another area where we feel we have a role to play,” Bray said. BHA hopes to address issues including building design, traffic and parking issues.

BHA also wants to keep abreast of what’s happening with the school-age population in the community and how this affects P.S. 8, he said.

“There are trends in both directions — brownstones converted back to single-family, and the [former] Watchtower to multifamily. Not to mention the Pier 6 towers,” which will be populated in one and a half years.

“We want to make sure the city keeps an eye on school issues for our district,” he said. 

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