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Activists on towers: Not in Brooklyn’s front yard

Got the blues: A rendering circulated by activists shows the size of the 31- and 15-story buildings slated for the land overlooking Pier 6.
Save Pier 6

It has all the makings of a Pier 6 brawl.

Brooklyn Bridge Park honchos are seeking bids to build the final two apartment towers in Brooklyn’s front yard, but activists are demanding they shrink the buildings or forego them altogether. The activists say the below-market-rate component of the structures is nice and all, but that a greensward uncrowded by hundreds of people’s homes would be nicer.

“Providing affordable housing is a great thing to do,” said Lori Schomp, who is collecting signatures from area residents concerned about the size of the proposed buildings. “But providing parkland for thousands of people is good, too.”

The park plan calls for six residential high-rises in all, fees from which are meant to fund park maintenance forever. The last two overlooking Pier 6 are supposed to reach 31 and 15 stories and contain 430 pads between them, according to a city request for proposals released in May. Project foes claim the plans were made based on an environmental review that is erroneous because it was done a decade ago, before the area got an influx of new residents who have crowded the park and area schools and who could end up straining city services if they keep piling in.

“In no way do the plans as they were generated account for this population,” said Andrew Kern, a Brooklyn Heights resident speaking at a Thursday meeting of the park’s board of directors. “I’m hoping the board can really wrestle with these issues rather than kowtow to developers.”

The park’s community advisory council, a conduit for area residents to communicate with the park’s board, voted last week to ask the governing body to perform a comprehensive environmental study before moving ahead with the last structures at Furman Street and Atlantic Avenue.

At the more recent meeting the board voted instead to conduct a traffic study and to discuss the full review at the next session in August.

The deadline for developers to make a bid on the buildings is in late July, but board chairwoman Alicia Glenn said there is no deadline for the board to select a bid.

Board member John Raskin asked the board to consider activists’ full list of concerns.

“It was 10 years ago that we looked at this,” he said. “And the world has changed.”

Councilman Steve Levin (D–Brooklyn Heights), who also sits on the park’s board, backed up the request, citing the shortage of school space as a major reason why new construction should be viewed critically.

“School crowding is an unmitigated impact of all the development going on right now,” he said. “I think it’s appropriate to consider these items now.”

The park’s president, Regina Myer, said she feels just fine about sticking to the original script.

“We are very comfortable moving forward with the General Project Plan,” she said at the meeting.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.

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