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Making it personal: Park’s lawyers should feel for towers’ critics and look past the law, judge on Pier 6 case says

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It’s pier pressure.

Brooklyn Bridge Park honchos should forget about the law and show some compassion for those Brooklyn Heights residents who oppose the two towers being built at Pier 6, the new judge presiding over the case on the high-rises told meadow stewards at her first hearing on Thursday.

“Maybe at the end of the day you’re in the right legally, but what’s the right thing to do? The fair thing to do for the community, the people who live here?” said Justice Carmen Victoria St. George. “It seems to be perhaps worthy of a discussion where you can come in with the ability to deal fair-heartedly, leave your lawyering behind, and think of the people who actually live here.”

Lawyers for civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association, the park, and the developers planning to erect the 15 and 28-story towers at the foot of Atlantic Avenue made their arguments before St. George for the first time, following the departure of the former judge overseeing the case, who passed it off in August because she was assigned to other litigation.

The green space’s caretakers claim the towers will bring in funds needed to maintain the timber piles that support Pier 6, which is being devoured by wood-eating crustaceans. But the civic group’s members argue the park is flush with cash and that the shorter tower, which will contain below-market-rate housing, does not uphold the terms of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s General Project Plan, a 2006 agreement that mandates development parcels in the meadow generate revenue.

St. George suggested that green-space caretakers appease the community by building two 15-story towers instead, and scrap the affordable housing.

“That conforms to the idea of having a park there, and gives the opportunity to raise money for it. What’s the issue?” she asked.

But meadow attorneys said they would rather discuss legal matters than those of the heart, and contended that the Brooklyn Heights Association only speaks for a small portion of the neighborhood.

“It is not fair to say it represents the opinions of the entire community and city,” said lawyer Hayley Stein.

Following St. George’s attempt at striking a truce, the Heights Association’s attorney, Richard Ziegler, spoke for almost two hours. He reiterated previous arguments that park officials are violating the General Project Plan, ignored their own rules for selecting a developer, and did not receive the required permission to include below-market-rate units in the scheme.

But another meadow lawyer, David Paget, countered that his clients are not breaching the park’s operating agreement because its author said the document’s language wasn’t designed to forbid affordable housing, referring to Ziegler as “Merlin” at one point during his rebuke.

The park’s attorneys did not have time to finish their arguments, however, and will continue them at an appearance scheduled for Monday, which is expected to be the attorneys’ last before St. George rules.

And the judge is more than ready to issue a verdict, she said.

“I have no problem making a decision on this case,” St. George said.

In the meantime, construction on the towers proceeds. The foundation of the 15-story high-rise will be completed in two weeks, and that of the taller tower will be finished by the end of the year, according to a lawyer for developers RAL Companies and Affiliates and Oliver’s Realty Group.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 5:53 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

blogger Bill from Boerum Hill says:
Fair and balanced reporting, without doubt.
Still, the new towers are a visual blight
and a few more disgraces.
Nov. 3, 2017, 7:04 am
here comes the judge from Brooklyn Heights says:
Finally we have a judge that's concerned about the interest of the community rather than a law that doesn't serve them.

The laws are in place to serve the people and if they don't "...then pluck them out".

Brooklyn is not Manhattan and let's not turn it into that same ball of confusion. Brooklyn doesn't want back-to-back towers and overpopulation in concentrated areas.

Spread out and let us move, breathe and see clearly. Brooklyn has a lot more to offer than Towers.

BBP has enough towers already to take care of the worm problem.
Nov. 3, 2017, 8:50 am
Morris from Mill Basin says:
Hey BP! Your puns are punny! Hahahahha! Get it?
Nov. 3, 2017, 9:54 am
Judi Francis from Cobble Hill says:
The Judge seemed to understand the facts of the community's opposition to these towers however, and, as no towers are needed to fund the park on any rational basis, no towers should be built. As to the base canard that the BHA doesn't represent the community, let me be clear, as the President of the 11 surrounding community associations who have held together for 13 years, under the BBP Defense Fund in their UNITED OPPOSITION to these towers, the BHA's fine legal counsel DOES speak for ALL COMMUNITIES surrounding the park, for the elected officials who oppose this park housing, and for good government groups like the Sierra Club and NYC Park Advocates who have also supported this litigation.

Shouldn't we ask: If we can plan and pay for capital expenses now, that few of us will be alive to reap the benefit of, (ergo, the case for borrowing, which all capital infrastructure projects do, for this very reason), then where is the plan for more parklands over the next 50 years for the million more people to come to this area?

We need these lands - 3 acres if you remove the buildings and the roads that are needed to support housing - as park lands, today, for the 16,000 new apts in the area never imagined in 2004. Does the mayor really think the scant 1/2 acre of new parklands downtown, (incredibly, inside Fulton Mall) , is sufficient? As the coach of his daughter's softball team when we struggled to find a field to play games on (and found none for practice time), I can assure you he should rethink his support for housing without any provision for parklands.
Nov. 3, 2017, 10:42 am
Morris from Mill Basin says:
Can anyone help me post a story about my lost hermit crab? Stinky is missing.
Nov. 4, 2017, 5:41 am
ujh from downtown brooklyn says:
The "BBP lawyers" are not arguing on behalf of the park as an independent entity. The BBP Corporation is a subsidiary of the Economic Development Corporation, which promotes development in the city of New York currently headed by Mayor de Blasio. It wasn't the BBP Corporation's idea to include so-called affordable housing units, which would lower income from PILOTS, but Mayor de Blasio's. At least this is how I understand it.
Nov. 4, 2017, 11:20 am
Walt disney from Greenwood says:
Get real folks !!

Developers don't lose in the Brooklyn Courthouse.
Nov. 4, 2017, 4:39 pm
Taco says:
Bottom line...it's getting crowded.
Nov. 5, 2017, 1:52 pm

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