There must be no housing inside Brooklyn Bridge Park — and the entirety of the 85-acre open space and condo development must be protected by being formally zoned as parkland, a state Senate candidate said on Tuesday.
Daniel Squadron, a well-off newcomer who has been endorsed by Mayor Bloomberg and his former boss Sen. Charles Schumer, called on state officials to create a real Brooklyn Bridge Park — one that would not be a luxury condo development with a largely undefined, and perpetually delayed, open space component.
Squadron is running against 30-year state Sen. Marty Connor (D–Brooklyn Heights), who has supported the current condos-in-the-park proposal. That scheme showed its own shakiness just last week, when Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation officials admitted that the much-touted first permanent piece of the park — a public piazza and skating rink under the Brooklyn Bridge — would be delayed five years.
Squadron saw that delay as evidence that the project needed to be reimagined as a real park, not a state-run development project.
“We are talking about the possibility of really creating a great, real, world-class park here on the waterfront,” Squadron said in a campaign stop at Pier 6 at the foot of Atlantic Avenue, which is slated to be the southern entrance to the development
“We have enormous activity and potential on our waterfront in New York today [and] we have the chance to build a great 21st-century public work,” he added.
Squadron’s five-point plan included a call to:
• Eliminate luxury development inside the 1.3-mile strip of land along the Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO waterfront. Currently, up to 1,400 units of luxury housing are slated to be built inside the park.
• Formally designate the now-cleared Port Authority piers and the waterfront land west of Furman Street as a park.
• Audit and release the finances of the increasingly costly project, originally budgeted at $150 million, but now exceeding $350 million.
• Change the plan so that maintenance of the park is not dependent on revenues created by luxury development inside the park footprint.
“If we have a park, we have the ability to maintain and protect it,” Squadron said.
To finance the park’s upkeep, Squadron is pushing a hotel, not luxury housing, because homeowners whose maintenance fees incentives will want to have some control over what is supposed to be a public park.
Plus, he added, residential buildings would block a major park entrance point at Atlantic Avenue, which goes against the very nature of a public space. The condos at One Brooklyn Bridge Park, the building on Furman and Joralemon streets, is a prime example of poor park planning, he said.
“Housing must not be on the table,” he said. “Hotels draw people in. Housing requires a private, quiet neighborhood.”
Incumbent Connor told The Brooklyn Paper that he does not support housing in the park, but said state officials have “made it very plain” that the housing is essential to supporting the park.
“I’m not in favor of housing in the park, but I’m not willing to risk the park not being built by opposing the housing,” Connor said on Tuesday. “The housing does, in fact, take up a much smaller footprint than anything anyone else was trying to think of.”
Less than 10 acres of the overall footprint is set aside for housing, but critics have long pointed out that unless the entire 85 acres are rezoned as parkland, development could bite into more of the open space if revenues from the condos falls off and the park maintenance budget is in jeopardy.
Updated at 12:07: An earlier version erroneously reported that Sen. Hillary Clinton had endorsed Daniel Squadron. The Brooklyn Paper meant to say that Mayor Bloomberg had endorsed Squadron.
©2008 Community News Group
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