A Brooklyn Heights civic group is hoping legal eagles can still swoop in to block Brooklyn Bridge Park honchos building more money-spinning towers in the park, filing a new suit against the development on Thursday.
The semi-private organization that runs the park voted last month to go ahead with the controversial development, which is opposed by every local civic group and elected official, despite failing to secure the support of the state for its plans. But Albany officials say they won’t stand in its way, so the Brooklyn Heights Association believes legal action is its last hope.
“The BHA feels that it’s exhausted all other opportunities to reach a sensible outcome with the consent of the park,” said Richard Ziegler, a Brooklyn Heights resident who is representing the civic group in the case.
In the 91-page lawsuit, the association reasserts its long-held claim that park bigwigs are violating an agreement they made to allow only the bare minimum amount of private development in the park that they need to pay for the meadow’s maintenance.
The group hired its own bean-counter earlier this year, who found the park is already earning enough cash and doesn’t need to build the two towers to stay in the green, though the park maintains that it does.
Amongst many other things, the association also claims the park body violated the terms of a 2015 settlement from another lawsuit that ordered it to seek approval from the state for several changes it had made to the original tower plans — notably, the addition of below-market-rate housing.
State officials pulled their support in May, but the city declared that it had satisfied the spirit of the agreement simply by seeking their approval, and vowed to plow ahead with the high-rises and the so-called “affordable” component.
Additionally, the civic group claims the park broke its own rules when selecting developers Ral Companies and Oliver’s Realty Group to head the project.
The suit claims each developer that submitted a proposal for the project was supposed to register with the Doing Business Database — where businesses have to publicly disclose lobbying efforts and donations to pols — but the builders weren’t on the roster at the time of their selection in March 2015.
A spokesman for the project declined to comment on whether the companies were on the register at the time, but claimed they complied with all the rules.
Now that the lawsuit has been filed, the case will likely go before the gavel in the next couple months, according to Ziegler, who says his case is full of winning arguments.
“Normally you put the strongest claim first, but it’s not the case with this petition,” he said. “Any one of these claims is quite compelling.”
But the park and developers said they have done nothing wrong and are sure the judge will throw the suit out post haste.
“We’re confident that the court will dismiss this frivolous attempt to block essential park funding and affordable housing,” said a Ral spokesman.
©2016 Community News Group
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