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To the editor,

The Brooklyn chapter of the American Institute of Architects supports the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to add the 1.8-mile Gowanus Canal to the Superfund cleanup program. (“It’s a sludgefest,” May 29).

Currently, there is voluntary cleanup being supervised by the state Department of Environmental Conservation of the Public Place development site along the canal and it is anticipated that other development sites will be similarly remediated by the developers.

However, cleanup of the waterway and the sediment below is also required, and developers are not likely to want to participate in a cleanup that is not part of their real estate.

In addition, much of the bulkheads will need replacement or extensive repairs in order to provide a shield between the adjacent Brownfield sites that will prevent them from leaching into the canal.

For these reasons, the chapter believes that the Gowanus Canal cleanup is a necessary component to any planned new development along and near the canal.

The opposition to Superfund designation is probably triggered by developers concerns that involvement with the EPA will add cost to their projects. The argument that the Superfund designation would slow development was refuted by the EPA when it stated that remediation of projects presently underway, such as the Public Place site and the Toll Brothers site, would not be affected by the Superfund designation, nor would it impact any new proposals.

The opposition claim that Superfund designation would reduce property values is not likely to happen at the Gowanus Canal, which has for so many years been known as a thoroughly polluted, highly toxic waterway. But when the cleanup is completed real estate will certainly rise.

• • •

The chapter endorses the proposed new zoning for DUMBO, which changes the manufacturing zone to a mixed-use zone (“DUMBO’s future to be mapped out with rezoning,” Feb. 25). But the chapter would like to keep the residential bulk component of the new zoning to R6A levels. The R6A zoning would produce buildings of about the same height as the old five-story, high-ceilinged factory buildings and, hopefully, with some thoughtful design, would maintain the ambience of the old DUMBO.

The chapter would also like to prohibit the affordable housing requirement in the new zoning area, because its use will allow for substantially more “floor area” than the zoning otherwise permits and is not necessary when located next the Farragut Housing project, which provides sufficient low-income housing for the area.

Donald Weston,

Brooklyn Heights

The writer is chair of the urban design committee for the Brooklyn Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Dock holiday

To the editor,

I wrote this to Councilmen Eric Gioia and David Yassky after reading your story about their opposition to the Dock Street project (“Fiery hearing over Dock St,” May 29):

As a parent of three PS 8 students, I write to express my support for the Dock Street project and to ask why are you not supporting it.

Councilman Yassky has searched for alternative locations for a middle school in DUMBO or Brooklyn Heights, yet no feasible sites have been uncovered. It was particularly upsetting to me as a parent that Yassky, whose own children attend a private school, suggested housing a middle school in a prison. He even proposed placing a school in Brooklyn Bridge Park, which would be lovely — if the building owner had not been insolvent and schools were allowed to be built in the park, which they are not.

The Dock Street project is the only viable option being proposed to address the severe shortage of middle schools servicing our neighborhood. The inability of Yassky’s task force to locate a feasible alternative site for a neighborhood middle school over a period of more than two years only proves the point. If an alternative site for a school exists, please provide details as to the location, cost and feasibility, and please do not leave out details such as how long hundreds of children would be displaced or put in a windowless basement, and how much your school would cost.

So why are you not supporting Dock Street? I know that you were troubled by how badly the School Construction Authority represented itself at last week’s City Council hearing. I, too, was dismayed — but no one has come forward with any evidence that any other viable options exist.

No other site has been offered to the SCA for free. No one else has offered to donate a shell for a 300-seat middle school. And The Brooklyn Paper has reported that the SCA has, in fact, looked at various other options in the area, but found that none of them were feasible for financial or other reasons.

In this economic climate, I cannot blame the SCA for believing that the Dock Street offer, which will save the city tens of millions of dollars, was superior to any others. In this economic climate, without Dock Street, there will be no middle school built in DUMBO or Brooklyn Heights.

Perhaps your real problem is that you believe that this building will obstruct a view of the Brooklyn Bridge. It is absolute hyperbole to say that the Dock Street building could possibly “obstruct,” “destroy,” “overshadow,” “envelop” or any of the other adjectives that have been used to describe its effect on the bridge. Dock Street is a more contextual, more aesthetically pleasing building than many buildings already near the bridge (not that one would know it from the fake renderings being promulgated by project opponents).

If we are going to have a discussion about the desirability of the project, let’s have an honest discussion.Brett E. Lewis,

Brooklyn Heights

Gay old time

To the editor,

I saw David Terhune’s letter in last week’s paper (“Bride and joy,” Letters, May 29) and wanted to say this to him:

The newlyweds in the photo are good friends and neighbors to my partner and me. While I agree with you that “gay New Yorkers pay taxes and contribute to the state economy […] and their right to express love and commitment through the institution of marriage should not be abridged,” I’m not sure the photo you saw was the appropriate catalyst for such a response.

You see, the happy couple would like nothing more than to see my partner and I be able to have a ceremony as fantastic as theirs was. I’m sure you didn’t mean to offend, and I agree with your passionate response. I wish I could get married legally, too, but until then, I’m happy to see that there are people like my neighbors in the photo to give us something to look forward to. Name withheld,

Brooklyn Heights

Lowy down

To the editor,

Kenn Lowy did not quit the Independent Neighborhood Democrats as your online headline falsely screams (“No Heyer love! Club president quits rather than campaign for John,” May 27). The IND constitution states that if a member of the executive board wants to support a candidate that is not endorsed by the club, that person needs to take a leave of absence for the election period. Many members do just that if they wish to support anyone other than the endorsed candidate.

I, myself, took a leave when I worked for the election of Yvette Clark, during her primary race because the club endorsed David Yassky.

Are you going to say that members like I “quit”? One reason why IND is independent is because people are free to support whomever they please but remain members of the club. President Kenn Lowy is still a member of IND.

Mona Bregman,

Brooklyn Heights

Editor’s note: Lowy did quit the club, albeit temporarily, he says.

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Reader Feedback

gogogow from Gowanus says:
--The Brooklyn chapter of the American Institute of Architects supports the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to add the 1.8-mile Gowanus Canal to the Superfund cleanup program. --
They are a smart group of people who also "work for developers". We should all listen to them and learn.
June 5, 2009, 4:28 pm
Kenn Lowy from Bklyn Hts says:
Actually, Mona is correct. I stepped down temporarily - i did not quit.

kenn lowy
June 15, 2009, 5:33 pm

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