A letter issued last week by the director of the Brooklyn Bridge Park
Development Corporation has seemingly eased tensions with local elected
officials, who had planned to push the state authority for a more open
and public process in redesigning plans for the 1.3-mile waterfront project.
The letter, written by BBPDC President Wendy Leventer on Feb. 7, was sent
to Rep. Nydia Velazquez, state Sen. Martin Connor, Assemblywoman Joan
Millman, Borough President Marty Markowitz, and councilmen David Yassky
and Bill DeBlasio, among others.
Disagreements over the park’s most recent incarnation, which was
released in December to small groups of neighborhood residents who were
invited to view the model at lead planner Michael Van Valkenburgh’s
Manhattan office, became evident when the presidents of 10 neighborhood
associations criticized the planning process for excluding them. Signatories
of the Jan. 14 letter, sent to Leventer and those same elected officials,
included leaders form Brooklyn Heights, Fulton Ferry Landing, DUMBO, Vinegar
Hill, Cobble Hill, Columbia Street, Fulton Ferry Landing and Atlantic
The letter urged Leventer to hold public meetings for open discussion
of the plans, as well as two planning sessions with neighborhood representatives
to consider alternative revenue sources and designs, revise the scope
of a looming environmental impact statement (EIS) and commit to completing
the EIS with community involvement.
The first meeting open to the public — this Tuesday, Feb. 22 —
was scheduled after Leventer received the letter from the neighborhood
[A Feb. 11 meeting to address revenue sources for the park included select
invited neighborhood representatives, but no materials were circulated
for redistribution to their neighbors, and the meeting was closed to the
press and the public.]
Meetings held among elected officials over the past several weeks to develop
a united stance on the park plan were preempted after they received Leventer’s
Feb. 7 letter, which in non-specific terms promised more public informational
meetings, but remained vague as to the role, if any, of public input.
Besides the Feb. 22 public meeting at Polytechnic University in Metrotech,
the BBPDC will hold another in March, Leventer wrote, start facilitating
Community Advisory Committee meetings every six weeks, hold roving presentations
around the various neighborhoods near the park, and create a central Web
site that will be maintained throughout the EIS process. The Community
Advisory Committee, which was mandated to garner public input into the
park plan under the agreement that created the BBPDC, has not met since
last May. In the ensuing months, the park plan was almost completely changed,
with many of the revenue generating proposals replaced by market-rate
housing in four high-rises. That group has yet to hold a meeting to discuss
The Leventer letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Brooklyn Papers,
was not distributed publicly, however, and the BBPDC gave instructions
to Van Valkenburgh’s public relations firm, the Marino Organization,
not to distribute it to the press.
“It’s really not meant for the press,” said the Marino
Organization’s David Stearns.
On Feb. 16, Millman issued a copy of the letter along with a response
jointly signed by all of the elected officials.
“We received a letter from Wendy Leventer committing to ensure the
public’s confidence in a more comprehensive and transparent process
to produce Brooklyn Bridge Park,” the politicians’ letter reads.
“We strongly believe that an inclusive process with meaningful and
extensive public participation is essential to producing the best possible
Reached separately, their comments weren’t much different.
“The coalition of groups wrote [Leventer] to do a meeting on the
financials,” said Velazquez spokesman Dan Wiley.
“It’s showing they’re listening,” said Wiley. “They’re
responding. At least they’ve had one [finance meeting] with the coalition
of groups that was asking for it.”
Millman wrote via e-mail that Leventer’s letter was a response to
concerns that her office had raised about “ensuring the public’s
confidence in an open and transparent process to produce Brooklyn Bridge
Yassky spokesman Evan Thies said, “Our office felt adrift, and we’re
glad to see that they have a comprehensive plan here, but there’s
a lot left to be done. The next step is to follow through on those promises,
and we’ll make sure they stick to it.
“We’re just at the beginning of the real development stages,”
he noted. “This is a crucial time for the community to be involved,
and I’m sure [the BBPDC] takes that responsibility seriously.”
©2005 Community News Group