In the 33rd district, six candidates speak on Brooklyn Bridge Park

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Here’s this week’s question for the candidates for the 33rd City Council District, a seat that stretches from Greenpoint to Park Slope — and includes Brooklyn Bridge Park: After decades of delays, permanent parts of the park are under construction along the Brooklyn Heights waterfront. But as The Brooklyn Paper has reported, new housing, some commercial activity and the hotel are now off the table for now. As such, how would you, as councilmember, ensure that there is a steady funding stream to maintain and program this “world-class” park, with its anticipated $16-million maintenance budget?

Isaac Abraham
“The communities nearest the proposed park will experience incremental increases in property values and, thus, taxes as a result of the park. Its presence may also result in more business activity and sales taxes. That said, the amount of funding required for a core, basic park should and could be funded by the general fund. It is only fair. And it is what a vocal, well-informed councilmember does: Get the information. Use the information. Do not let the administration off the hook. Absolutely no reason exists to allow the city to skim all of the new revenues generated by the community as a result of the park for non-community needs. We are not asking dollar for dollar, just that some of the new dollars serve the community, and in this case our park.”

Ken Baer
“I support state Sen. Daniel Squadron’s plan to fund and develop the Brooklyn Bridge Park because it does not include the high-rise residential buildings that are currently in the plan for the park. The Squadron proposal has revenue from the current plan including; the housing already at 360 Furman St., the Pier 1 hotel (with no residential housing), and the Empire Stores. Sen. Squadron’s plan would supplement this with a park increment recapture, which derives from zoning changes and increases in the assessed value of property within a .4-mile radius of the park, as well as funds generated through park amenities. If for some reason these revenue streams are not sufficient to meet operating expenses, I would work to appropriate additional funds from the city’s general fund.”

Doug Biviano
“I remain adamantly opposed to luxury towers and condos in the park. I support Sen. Squadron’s plan and agree that reallocating the tax revenue that will result from the park development itself is a safer funding anchor for park operations than gambling on luxury condo sales. Squadron’s projections predicts that this will generate the nearly $16-million annual operations budget. I support making Brooklyn Bridge Park a city park for greater budgetary protections and local control. I will work actively with the community to foster and grow a public-private partnership in the model of the Prospect Park Alliance to raise capital for programming and preservation.”

Ken Diamondstone
Declined to respond.

Steve Levin
“I firmly believe that we need a Brooklyn Bridge Park that welcomes everyone, and that is why I am opposed to any new private housing to be built in the park itself. We need to expand the park’s capacity for year-round recreation and public use so that more families can enjoy the park throughout the year. That is why I support community-based initiatives to revise the current plan. In order to pay for the maintenance of the park, I support concessions in the park as well as a park incremental tax recapture plan to use the tax revenue from future rezonings in the surrounding communities.”

Jo Anne Simon
“The city and state need to come clean on the costs of creating and maintaining this park and the federal government needs to step up to the plate, given the importance of our waterfront and the role that the park will play in that revitalization. City parks were terribly underfunded for years and were the first victims of economic downturns and budget cuts. Many were unsafe and had become significant drains on nearby property values, hence the ‘self-sustaining’ funding model. Brooklyn Bridge Park will not be able to rely solely on Albany or the city. Sen. Daniel Squadron’s park incremental recapture proposal is a step in the right direction. Overall, we need to diversify sources of revenue and seek to do so without development. Creativity, solid work and transparency will lead us to the right mix.”

Evan Thies
“When the government invests large amounts of money into improving our open space, it also increases the value of nearby land, and creates more revenue for the city through property taxes. I have proposed simply capturing a portion of that tax revenue by making the area immediately surrounding Brooklyn Bridge Park a “park improvement district.” It wouldn’t require any new taxes or loss of open space. The money saved could be re-directed into the park — and other parks across the city — to create a positive growth cycle which would sustain the park and improve the neighborhood for years to come.”

Posted 9:12 am, August 19, 2009
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Reasonable discourse

Bob from Greenpoint says:
As you all see as of the polls of today Isaac Abraham is the front runner and being the top, the press likes him very munch! He is a fighter and will fight for everybody, the other day at debate he said “if its ant right he will stand up and fight”!!! He is the right person for the job and being the next councilman at 33rd district. Isaac keep up the good work!!!
Aug. 19, 2009, 11:45 am
Ben from Cobble Hill says:
Isaac has been and is invisible to most of the district he is attempting to stake a claim in. That's not the team/community building approach that will fly in these perilous times.

In contrast, Jo Anne has been circling "the globe" and listening to her future constituents and beyond long before she even considered running. Yes, it does always come down to supporting and electing candidates that have the ability to make thoughtful and carefully considered and reasoned judgements. Jo Anne heads the pack, hands down, and she's not even in my district!

I look foward to her progessive voice in the City Council.
Aug. 19, 2009, 8:38 pm
Sue from Downtown says:
JoAnne Simon is a joke! Her campaign takes money from the very people who cooked up private luxury housing inside Brooklyn Bridge Park and she has done nothing to prevent housing in this park in the 4 years the plan has been out there! If you want housing - luxe highrises- inside Brooklyn Bridge Park then JoAnne is your gal.
Sept. 5, 2009, 4:47 pm

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