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Bloomy: Housing in ‘park’ is still the plan

The Brooklyn Paper
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Well, if you believe the Daily News, city officials were going to unveil their long-discussed “takeover” of the state’s controversial and delayed Brooklyn Bridge Park development project tonight — but Mayor Bloomberg himself nixed the notion that his administration would swoop in with new cash and a delay in the construction of luxury housing within the park’s footprint.

Bloomberg administration officials will be on hand at a meeting tonight at Long Island College Hospital — a meeting that the Daily News reported this morning was going to involve a city takeover of the park development project. But Mayor Bloomberg didn’t want to go that far this morning.

“The state’s run out of money, but we don’t want to stop development [of the park],” the mayor told The Brooklyn Paper at Monday morning’s a ground-breaking ceremony for McCarren Park Pool.

And, a mayoral aide clarified later, the mayor doesn’t want to stop development in the park, either.

“Right now, housing is still part of the park plan,” said mayoral spokesman Andrew Brent. “Unless another funding stream can be established, that’s the plan.”

The comments fly in the face of the Daily News story that the city would pony up $55 million immediately to finish building the troubled park — of which only a northern portion on Pier 1 near Old Fulton Street is slated for completion in early 2010. A second portion, atop Pier 6 at the foot of Atlantic Avenue, will be completed a few months later.

The vast majority of the remainder of the 85-acre park between those piers is off the table, pending additional funding. Also delayed are the luxury condo units and a hotel — the controversial commercial portion of the park that is supposed to fund the greenspace’s $15-million annual maintenance budget.

With a $120-million park construction gap, and the condo and hotel developments off the table for now, the Bloomberg administration could make some big news at the meeting tonight, which was set up by state Sen. Daniel Squadron, who has championed a tax hike plan to fund park maintenance that could dovetail with the mayor’s ambitions.

But not even Squadron was so optimistic for a big headline on BrooklynPaper.com on Tuesday morning.

“A city takeover has great potential — if there is money on the table, a meaningful discussion of alternatives to housing, parkland designation, and community input on governance and amenities,” Squadron said in a statement this morning. “As always, open dialogue is crucial.”

Brooklyn Bridge Park meeting at Long Island College Hospital [Hicks Street between Atlantic and Pacific streets in Cobble Hill, (212) 298-5565], Monday, Dec. 7 at 7 pm.

Updated 9:44 am, December 10, 2009: Updated with more context from the mayor's office.
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Reader Feedback

Vale from Kashmir says:
Will my grandchildren ever play in this park? Or will the squabbling continue until the next century?
Dec. 7, 2009, 1:55 pm
Bloomie pal from Brooklyn Bridge Park says:
Daily Snooze's scoop is poop.
Dec. 7, 2009, 8:09 pm
Cindy from Brooklyn Bridge Park says:
Don't worry Kashmir, the Mayor won't be around that long LOL!
Dec. 7, 2009, 9:16 pm
sue from cobble hill says:
we are deluding ourselves to think this is a park. It is a plan for housing for the rich and a lawn for them
Dec. 7, 2009, 9:57 pm
anon from Brooklyn Heights says:
It was standing room only tonight with literally hundreds of people coming out to advocate for a real park. Hundreds of people told Parks commish Benepe this isn't a park with housing inside and landcaping for condos. Residents spoke out for year round recreation, and theymentioned a pool. People don't buy "this is a world class park" if there ain't nadda to do in it. Squadron has brought the city to the table and even Assemblywoman Milman finally said no to housing...took her 6 years but she has seen the writing on the political wall. Let's see the Mayor's plan for new money ($55 mil was promised) and if he works with Squadron on ways to pay for it without housing...can be done...just ask the Highline people! Or even Bryant Park! And don't worry Vale, there will be a park but let's make it a park and not a lux condo complex.
Dec. 7, 2009, 11:01 pm
George from Washington says:
So, from what I understand in what I read above, the entire 85-acres is taken up with condos, but the people at the meeting were upset because someone forgot the swimming pool. Because nothing says "year-round recreation" or "park" like a pool on the East River. And around these condos there is a lawn with a big fence around it? Do I need to have a better imagination to see the things that you see?
Dec. 8, 2009, 12:51 am
Zoop from Cobble Hill says:
Yeah George, full of condos. And in case you didn't know, a pool, an ice rink, baseball fields, skating half pipe, and indoor rec center were all planned but all eliminated when the condos came on board. Seems people who live inside parks don't want people coming and messin' with their lawns. The most expensive park ever built in NY, with fake wet lands perched on top of a pier and a bunch of fake tidal pools to show for it. Bring on those mosquitos. With nothing to do there it's a blessing to have all those private armed guards your tax dollars are paying for. What will your 8 year old do in this park?
Dec. 14, 2009, 5:30 am
George from Washington says:
Zoop, I was kidding about it being full of condos - just look at the plan and you can see that the condo/hotel areas are small compared to the size of the park, not to mention the fact that the residential stuff is not actually IN the park, just alongside it, separated by a road.

I agree that it would be better to have the entire waterfront for a park, but I don't think that it makes any sense to claim that the condos caused the recreation to be eliminated. I see a lot of things to do - playgrounds, picnic tables, kayaks, walking paths, basketball courts, softball, etc. (btw, many 8 year olds love tidal pools, lawns, and hills - they also love playing in settings that don't tell them what they are supposed to be doing there). The courts and fields aren't being built in this first round of construction, but I don't think that they have been replaced by condos. Was the ice-skating supposed to be built as a permanent facility, or just a seasonal thing, like Bryant Park? Has the parks department said that they are not going to do this seasonally?

As I alluded to above, I think that the swimming pool is not a great idea - what does that have to do with a park? It is a facility that could be anywhere - why put it in the middle of the world's most amazing waterfront? I also see the indoor recreation center as being kind of silly in this particular location - if this is important so that people can exercise in winter, wouldn't you rather have it inland so that when you come out of it all hot and sweaty you don't freeze to death? Or is the plan to arrive by car, leave by car, etc.? My idea of being in a park in the wintertime is being outside - if it is cold out, that doesn't mean that I can't go outside - I just need a coat, hat, mittens, etc.
Dec. 14, 2009, 4:33 pm
a_provacateur from park slope says:
the brooklyn bridge park opponents - the editors of this "paper" included - are delusional. on a clear day, they'd argue that the sky isn't really blue.

these are the same people who posted "don't tread on me" flags on their million dollar stoops because they didn't want people walking down their precious Joralemon Street.

as far as i'm concerned, they can all keep protesting and avoiding the park. who needs 'em. at least i'll know that when i'm taking a stroll along the paths with my 2 kids, i won't be surrounded by their bitter NIMBY souls. and i'll be lined up, cold or not, on the first day to enjoy this amazing new spot in our borough.
Dec. 18, 2009, 5:48 pm
Datan Basen from Brooklyn Heights says:
What happened to Squadrons proposal to fund the maintenance from "fees in leu of taxes" from new construction of condos built OUTSIDE the footprint. It is the only idea I've heard that isn't whining or bickering from what I view as typical New York cynics and crybabies. What is astonishing to me is the exact same people who are ready to kill this park are the ones who will realize huge property value increases. It's like saying those on Central Park West would rather have an Ikea instead of Central Park. Mystifying. One unmovable fact remains. This park is required to be self-supporting to avoid being at the mercy of budget cuts in tough times, like now. That was the legal stipulation for the transfer of the piers to the BBPDC. In order to provide maintenance for thousands of pilings holding up the piers, money is required. To build a city amenity on this scale (1.2 miles long, 85 acres) how in the world can anyone's assertion that this will be a private park have any credibility at all. I'd say that this is more accurately portrayed as a huge, spectacular, and unequaled amenity that will unlock enormous real estate value for the community groups and individuals living nearby who oppose it. These same people already have enormous real estate value. This park ought better to be built in central Brooklyn, but I don't hear anyone advocating for THAT for this public park...

For those of you who did not participate in the master plan, please note. Those meetings were incredibly civilized, unlike what we are seeing now from opponents.

As someone who participated actively as a member of the community in the creation of the master plan, I have just one more observation about where we are today.

I am astonished by the tone of "well, FINALLY the park is being built! " Given the scale of this park, it is roughly comparable to the Hudson River Park. That park, like this one was created after years and years of effort to defeat another quintessential anti-waterfront park, Westway Superhighway. Then, when the proposed alternate to that car-centric plan arrived, 10 communities hired litigators to argue for the park they actually wanted. It took more than thirty years. In the case of Brooklyn Bridge Park, a sizeable portion of the park (between the two bridges, was completed immediately following the one year community-driven master plan development period. That portion was not on piers and did not need structural analysis. From plan to shovel, about a year I think it was...
Dec. 21, 2009, 10:07 am
Ryan from Brooklyn Heights says:
Hey you guys,
Did you know that the Brooklyn Paper's Editor in Chief lives on Jarolemon Street? His paper consistently publishes cynical, weary, dire predictions, but never offers anything constructive that would aid a swifter construction time line. Did you know that he will personally realize a huge real estate boost from it's creation, most articles in his paper cast the park as "park" or 'park' because there will be retail and housing within the park borders that will be paying, as Datan said "fees in leu of taxes"? Perhaps we need a new word to describe this gigantic new public green space? How about:

A Public "Perk"

Anyway, it is thrilling to see something so wonderful being built even with pressure from people ignorant to the level of hard work invested by hundreds and hundreds of their neighbors which has allowed it to actually be built throwing hissy fits because, well, it's being built. WHERE WERE YOU GUYS BACK IN 1999 WHEN YOU WERE INVITED TO PARTICIPATE???! I wonder if these guys realize that each pier is larger than Bryant Park--each one. This project is impossible to characterize as a private park for a couple of condos stuck at the far outer edges of the park, oops, "Perk". Cry all the way to the bank, guys, but I'll avoid calling it a "park" if that makes you happy. Is it any wonder stuff like takes so long to get built? You can't have it both ways.

Respectfully,
Ryan
Brooklyn Heights
Dec. 21, 2009, 10:27 am
BETH STROPEUR from CLINTON HILL says:


WELL SAID DATAN AND RYAN. I AM SICK AND TIRED OF ALL THE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO KILL THE PARK BECAUSE IT ISN'T PERFECT. I SUPPOSE THEY ALL HAVE NICE LITTLE BACK YARDS. WELL WE DON'T. WE HAVE A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF CONCRETE AND CAGED TREES IN THE SIDEWALK AND WANT THIS PARK SO PLEASE EITHER CONTRIBUTE CONSTRUCTIVELY OR JUST SHUT UP. THOSE OF US WHO WORKED ON THE PARK PLAN WORKED HARD TO MAKE THIS A GOOD PARK FOR ALL OF US AND WE ARE READING AN AWFUL LOT OF IGNORANT OBJECTIONS. LIKE RYAN SAID, WHERE WERE YOU WHEN YOU WERE INVITED TO HELP DESIGN THIS? MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACKS GIVE ME A PAIN.
Dec. 21, 2009, 12:33 pm
a_provacateur from park slope says:
just a reminder that the community groups representing every neighborhood surrounding the park - brooklyn heights, DUMBO, carroll gardens, cobble hill, farragut, vinegar hill, concord village and even fort greene all publicly supported the master plan AND the theory that the park be self-sustaining.

people have short memories around here - 15 years ago the port authority was ready to build condos on every one of those piers, and probably a little big box retail too. instead, you're getting a park and the city/state park's budget doesn't take a hit - so our tax dollars can help support the maintenance of other urban parks in needier neighborhoods. and your only "pain" is a couple of new buildings at the park's fringe, which, by the way, make the entire site safer and more desirable.

the park plan is genius, and largely reflects the will of the hundreds - if not thousands - of people who participated in what was probably the most open urban planning project ever undertaken. we're lucky to be getting it.
Dec. 21, 2009, 5:23 pm
Deb Cheer from DUMBO says:
If the editor of the Brooklyn Paper is so put out that a park of this magnitude is being built at the end of "his" street--and may cause more foot traffic by "strangers" to walk by his home-- then why the heck isn't he using his paper to push for a more logical entrance to the "perk" (love it) through "his" neighborhood--MONTAGUE STREET. After all, isn't one of the city's major subway and bus hubs on one end of Montague and the main drag for commerce in between? We WANT people to patronize our local businesses! I live in DUMBO. We will see an increase in traffic of all sorts. Why should Brooklyn Heights be exempt? They will see property value benefits, so let them take their fair share of access responsibility!
It seems obvious too, that a xenophobe like this would also encourage a way for the promanade to transform from cul-de-sac to funnel into the park as a way of keeping "riffraff" from milling about on "his" street.
Frankly, someone here said it best. Why oh why would someone who will see their already high property value INCREASE due to this amenity complain so bitterly? Wahhhhhh.
Thank you provacateur from park slope for your civil tone. I should learn from you ; )
Jan. 13, 2010, 9:01 am
Bobby Newton from Fort Green says:
A connection at Montague Street makes a lot of sense to me. There is a subway ventilation building not far from the promenade. A bridge to it would span the BQE, then a series of elevators and stairs to get down... Brilliant.
Jan. 13, 2010, 6:39 pm
Beth Stropeaur from Clinton Hill says:
A connection at Montague Street makes a lot of sense to me too. What a smart idea! It would make all the subways and buses link almost directly to the park. It would only be a short walk and you could pick up picnic supplies along the way!
Jan. 13, 2010, 6:41 pm

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