Yassky: No Hall Passky for Walentas

The NY Post covers the DUMBO middle school/development drama in today's edition:

NY Post: Rumble Over Jumbo Dumbo Apartments: "DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights do need a middle school, but it should not be used as an excuse for an inappropriate building," said Yassky, who is forming a task force to find an alternate site for a school.

We don't know if this has ever been brought up before but wouldn't the Peaks Mason Mint building at 20 Henry Street be a perfect site for a middle school? Wouldn't that redeem much of the bad karma that site has generated over the years?

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  • pam

    It seems to me that if the area really needs a middle school, this is a good solution, or at least good enough not to be rejected out of hand. I assume the folks at the BHA and the Fulton Ferry Association are not themselves in the bind of needing a public middle school for their children. The aesthetic argument against the new building seems pretty thin to me. My guess is that this is all a personal feud between the old guard on the community associations and Wallentas. Pure and simple. I think that young parents who are getting screwed by this fabricated aesthetic/historical rationale should let their voices be heard loud and clear. Otherwise they will be screwed by the dinosaurs at the BHA and FFA. These groups have their heads up their posteriors and rely soley on rear-view mirrors. I have no idea what Yatsky’s grudge is, but I would guess it is personal, and or financial, as well.

  • Homer Fink

    Pam — you bring up a great point, one I don’t think most people are talking about — that is reconciling the work of the generations before us re: landmarking the Heights (and now DUMBO) with the reality of 21st century life.

    Who speaks for the new generation in these neighborhoods? Should this be the place?

  • steve

    I think that David Yassky and others opposed to the particular project that Walentas is proposing are concerned with the size of the building. It would be massive and block air and light and views, not only of those who live in DUMBO, but also of Brooklyn Heights residents. Several weeks ago, I received a direct mailing from Two Trees toting the project and was stunned by how huge the building would be. Allowing Walentas to build this behemoth DUMBO building is too high of a price to pay to get the much-needed middle school. I’m glad council member Yassky is committed to pursuing alternatives. In case you missed it, here is the link to the discussion of this project at Brownstoner, along with a photo of the model

  • pam

    I respectfully disagree. The building is not at all huge unless you are using Nantucket as a reference. furthermore it would in no way effect views or anything else from Brooklyn Heights. It may block views from other fancy condos in DUMBO, but that’s life in the big city.
    The building was designed by Beyer Bell etc. one of the most well-respected and conservative architects in the city.
    The building is not being built on landfill, it is on a tax lot. If that tax lot is too close to the Brooklyn Bridge then the city needs to take it over and compensate the owner. There is no reason to oppose this building except personal animus and the fact that the old guard cannot look to the future without replaying the same old battles they have been fighting with the same old people.

  • pam

    One more thing: I just can’t help it.
    Where, oh where, do you think that the real estate genius Yatsky is going to find an alternate location for the middle school? How long do you thinhk he will need for the quaest?
    I think of Yassky, nice guy that he may be, as someone challenged to walk and chew gum at the same time.

  • steve

    Pam: I don’t want to come off sounding like one of those dogmatic anti-development people. In the last decade we have seen a wonderful turnaround in our borough, and the role of the more reputable developers (and surely Mr. Walentas is one of them) has been instrumental. But I still think that this particular proposal is too big. As for the City finding an alternative location for a middle school, I think the pressure coming from the community and the public attention focused on the issue greatly increase the chances that an acceptable solution will be reached. You raised an interesting point in your prior comment, about the possibility of the City taking the lot and compensating the owner. Such an exercise of the eminent domain power for the quintessential public purpose of building a public school would certainly be legitimate (a far cry from the questionable “public purpose” at issue in the Atlantic Yards project). I can foresee, however, that it would be very difficult to calculate the fair market value of the property, because what it’s worth depends on what can be built there. And that could lead to protracted litigation which would be in no one’s interest.

  • Bonk

    I find Pam’s comment pertinent. Where does Yassky expect to find space? Is it a pre-existing building? A plot of land none of us knows about? If so, who will pay for the building? And how long will it take? The answer, in my opinion (after living in Dumbo since ’98 and watching Walentas operate), is that Yassky’s current stance is all posturing. He’s up to his neck with Walentas. There will be a “search,” and come some time in the next year he’ll announce, “We looked everywhere, we considered many options, but in the end, the best proposal is the Walentas proposal. ” What Walentas wants more than anything is to develop the Empire Stores. This could also end up being part of the final agreement. Funny, though, that everyone talks about views being lost and the need for a school, but no one ever talks about the suitability of Dumbo (and that site in particular) for a school. I live there. Dumbo is loud and filled with distractions. Noise from two bridges, not to mention an insufferably loud train on the Manhattan Bridge, as well as construction of all kinds which seems endless. Film shoots constantly, concerts in the park, demonstrations on the Brooklyn Bridge (not to mention, suicides) , and incessant helicopters flying over the bridges filming or police helicopters which frequently circle for lengthy periods at a time. Hardly a suitable learning environment. But in the end, Yassky will do as he is told.

  • Fred

    I agree with Bonk and Pam. I disagree that the proposed building is too big. It is smaller than the historic warehouses in the area.
    A school in that location would work well, the building would be brand new so the windows would be sound proof and the labs and other facilities, state of the art.
    I also think that Homer is on to something. Blogs like this one can be a counter-balance to the stodgy associations.
    I think Mr. Fink should start an on-line petition to demand that the project, including the new middle school be started at the site without delay. Blogs can make a difference. They can give people a voice.

  • Marco

    “Passky” Homer? Really?

  • No One of Consequence

    From what I’ve heard it’s merely suicide attempts as the Brooklyn Bridge isn’t high enough to make it a lethal fall.

  • nabeguy

    Getting back to Homer’s original proposal, I think he’s really come up with something in suggesting the Peaks building as a suitable alternative to the Walentas scheme. As it was considered a shining example of adaptive re-use when it was first converted to apartments, there’s no reason that the same principals couldn’t be re-applied. Its location is central enough to serve students from both the Heights and Dumbo. It appears large enough to accomodate up to 300 students, with an area for recreation in it’s rear. And, with wiring and plumbing already in place, the conversion costs would probably not be exorbitant. Seems to me to provide a perfect solution to the quandry of wanting to be forward thinking, while keeping “one eye in the rear view mirror”. Do I think the BOE has the guts to consider such a proposal? Doubtful, given their preference for new buildings (in spite of the costs) and pre-existing arrangements with approved contractors. Can anyone cite a single example of a public school that was located in a space that was previously occupied by a different entity? On the private side, one can look to St. Ann’s, at 129 Pierrepont St, which, over the years, has been converted from an office building to a K-12 school quite efficiently with no interruption to the learning process (I know from experience, being an alumnus from ’74). So there are precedents for the idea. Unfortunately, I think that converting this kind of vision to a reality will prove much more daunting to the BOE than the conversion of one building.

  • Rudy

    This building is going to effect everyone with a north facing view in the North Heights. It is out of scale, out of context, being forced under false pretenses, and shouldn’t happen. Make your voice be heard…www.savedumbo.org.

  • nabeguy

    Gee, I was hoping that we could stick to the issue of the need for schooling space and the possibilities OTHER than the Walentas proposal, for which the arguments on both sides are swiftly becoming about as interesting as watching a dog chase its tail. What I do find amusing are the snide insinuations on both sides of the argument, like the implication that anyone opposed to the new building is a “dinosaur” that has been somehow duped by a “fabricated aestheitc/historical rationale” or the somewhat nimby stance that anyone supporting it is a member of a new breed of architectural philistine that cares nothing about the surrounding area and it’s residents and only is interested in what’s “new”. Guys, I think it’s time to lay down the slingshots and start respecting your differences so that some kind of reasonable compromise can be worked on. Until we can reach that point, the issue will advance no further than the boundaries of our own individual battle lines.

  • Pam

    Go screw yourself,
    I am declaring war on the dinosaurs! their era of domination is ticking to an end. What I said in my last post is the truth. They are fighting the same ancient battles and they do not care a fig about folks who do not send their kids to Packer and to that drug-rehab prep school, St Ann’s. They don’t care. They would rather “Save the Brooklyn Bridge”. I think you don’t know how deep the feelings run in the neighborhood right now, especially among younger people. Not everyone is willing to be oblivious in BH. I’m mad as hell at the BHA and at the idiots like you who don’t even care enough to be angry at the supreme incompetence and reactionary thought of our village elders.
    Yeah, lets make that decrepit old dump of a candy factory into a middle school, lets put our children into that fire trap rat hotel. And maybe the nice owners will donate it to the city free of charge. La la la la land!!!

  • http://brooklynheightsblog.com Qfwfq

    Pam: Please refrain from the name-calling and the demonizing. We would like to keep the discussion civil and productive, and such use of language does nothing but marginalize your position. The question posed: Where do you think would be a good location for a middle school, if not this possible DUMBO building?

    Speaking as a member of the New Guard Of Brooklyn Heights(tm) I see nothing wrong with 20 Henry as a possible school location. The DUMBO location of that building seems ridiculous for a place that will have a steady flow of young people crossing the streets. Not to mention possible noise issues. Wasn’t the 20 Henry site just purchased though?

  • Pam

    Yeah, 20 Henry was just purchased for something like twenty million dollars. It is also a dump, would never be as nice as a brand new facility. You can be as quaint as you want in your tenderly restored house but kids deserve state of the art facilities, this isn’t the Third World although there are remarkable similarities. What’s lacking in the Heights, besides any good or even passable restaurants, is passion.
    nobody cares, i guess because everyone is so preoccupied with their law practice, or hedge fund, or drug-addicted children that they tune out. I have heard about BHA meetngs. total jokes, an agenda with boring old shit, nothing that is actually current or controversial is ever dared discussed, all upper-class white folks, and they dare speak for the community? they are an elitist golf club without the golf. Tell me it is not so, especially if you belong and go to the meetings.

  • nabeguy

    Pam, that’s exactly the kind of response that I’d expect from your side of the fence. Not even worth of a retort, thank you very much.