Park Committee to Hire Consultants on Housing Alternatives

At its meeting today the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation’s Committee on Housing Alternatives decided to seek outside help.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle: The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation’s Committee on Alternatives to Housing [Wednesday] got things off the ground by voting to approve the issuing of a Request for Proposals for a consultant to explore alternate funding sources for the park.

Whatever new uses are arrived at, they would replace condos that were planned for the John Street and Pier 6 locations in the current park plan. Proposals would be due next month.

The Eagle’s Raanan Geberer quoted BHB contributor T.K. Small, who attended the meeting, as believing that the BBPC has a “hidden game plan”: to “go through the motions”, then go ahead with housing. Geberer also quoted Judy Stanton, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, as believing any funding source other than housing would have to take up an unacceptably large portion of the Park’s “footprint”.

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  • nabeguy

    Excuse my ignorance (and please, no piling on) but I was’t even aware that there was such a committee. While I applaud its mission, I find myself in T.K.’s camp in believing these actions are merely a delaying tactic to distract the public from the inevitable conclusion that has already been decided in favor of private development …namely that, nothing short of housing will generate enough income to fund the park. IMHO, that’s nothing short of samo-samo politics (and pocket-lining) as usual. Whatever your opinion may be of Pier 6, does anyone think that it will be enhanced by the presence of a high-rise (20 stories+) building looming over it?

  • Reggie

    I can not think of a single planning firm that would reply to an RFP and then accept being instructed how to find. I expect little from this exercise but not for the reason given by TK (no disrespect). I doubt the smartest, most independent consultant will be able to find alternatives that raise $8M, even if considerably more of the site is used for revenue generation.

  • william

    Consultants for alternatives to housing? Ha. Many alternatives have been proposed by scores of community activists for years, and they have all been IGNORED by the BBPC.

    The unique characteristic of this site (other than the view of Manhattan) is that it has deep-water access which is not being used.

    Alternate plans for funding include docking commercial ships for use as hotels, school facilities, parking. And renting waterfront space for restaurants on barges, or for harbor tours, or for a maritime museum, etc. etc.

    Hiring “consultants” seems like just another misappropriation of money by the commercial development people running the show to justify the need for more income from the site.

    This project could easily be seen as a possible “Golden Goose” for political and development corruption. Show us where the money being paid by condo owners for “park” upkeep – that isn’t going to pay for municipal taxes is going. Who is keeping the books? We need an independent audit of the money spent so far.

    This whole affair smells rotten to the core. The State Appellate Court has determined that this waterfront project is NOT A PARK. It is a community development project, and it is exempt from State law preventing private construction on public land.

    And the “real estate people” can’t make money off maritime uses at the site. So, they are against it. Build, baby, build. And don’t pay taxes, and hide the money inside a private corporation. Spend baby, spend.

  • Cranberry Beret

    How does this relate to the development footprint behind pier 1, where the cold storage warehouses used to be? Is a hotel still slated for there?

  • Publius

    Proposed in-park revenue generator to replace the high rises:

    Create a Pier 6-based Wall Street financial firm that sells CDOs, lose a lot of money. Apply for TARP funds.

    We’ll be able to fund the park maintanence through the next century.


  • T.K. Small

    Perhaps I am a bit naïve, but I did not realize I was being quoted for an article. Had I more fully appreciated that I was speaking to the Brooklyn Eagle I would have been more selective with my words Going forward I will try to clarify media credentials first.

    But since the proverbial “cat is out of the bag”, I think that hiring a consultant to look for alternative income streams is better than plowing ahead with housing immediately. In that sense, the memorandum of understanding which calls for this consultant is very important. What I think the article does not fully emphasize is that the consultant needs to come up with an idea to replace 8-9 million dollars per year in income, which is an awful lot of ice cream, burritos and beer to sell. For me, the real question is “Why does it take this much money?”.

  • william

    If it is indeed true that the residents of 360 Furman are not paying taxes to the city or state, then essentially…. they are deadbeats on the community tab for their essential services.

    Rich deadbeats. Does the community want to subsidize more Millionaire Deadbeats? How much more in taxes will it cost you if more condos are built there?

  • ABC

    I still can’t understand why they needed to design a park that required so much maintenance.

  • resident

    William, the residents of 360 Furman are paying taxes to the park in lieu of normal property taxes. Disagree with this approach all you want, but this does not make them deadbeats. If the city and state were funding the maintenance directly they would be taking money out of the general tax revenues, revenues that would be replaced by the tax payments from 360 Furman. Either way, the money available to the city, state and park stays the same.

    Here’s what I don’t get about the argument, is where do people want the money to come from? If it all gets built, we will have a world class park above a major tidal strait, this costs money to maintain (T.K., I believe a lot of the maintenance cost is consumed by care for the piers themselves, mowing the grass isn’t the only expense.). It has to come from somewhere, and I’d be shocked if there is a plan that produces enough money without increasing tax revenues that are contributed to the park. The current plan is to increase the tax base and dedicating the revenues from that increase to the park. The “loss” to the community is the small percentage of potential parkland given up for development. The only viable alternative I’ve heard is Squadron’s proposal, which correct me if I’m wrong, dedicates tax revenue from properties within a certain distance of the park.

    Now, this is where I think I”m a little confused since I haven’t looked into his plan in great detail, but the “loss” for the community is either additional taxes to the residents nearby or the loss of those revenues to other services after they are directed to the park.

    I think reasonable minds can disagree on which “loss” is more detrimental to our neighborhood/pocket book/community at large/etc.

  • william

    The loss is from both the loss of “park” space for the footprint of the buildings. And the loss is the additional future drain of community services required to support the additional future people who haven’t moved into buildings that haven’t been built yet.

    We should budget the “park” maintenance on the present aborted tax income from 360 Furman. And income from other alternatives, which will pay City and State Taxes.

    Water access is the way.

    Rents and fees can be collected for waterfront usage for the public. Bob Diamond could build his trolley to Red Hook along the waterfront. He could sell tickets, and pay taxes. We could have artists colonies…. and people could be happy creating and selling artwork, and paying taxes.

    There are other ways to make money other than housing. There always were.

  • ABC

    I guess I don’t know enough about it, but there are piers all over the place and I dont think they cost millions to maintain. I think of the chelsea piers, the parking lots over on the west side, etc.

    I think people talk about the lawn mowing because it’s a figure people understand. Remember the presentation that said “operating expenses” (ie, lawn mowing, changing light bulbs <– literally, they said that) would be $9.6mm and capital maintenance (pile replacement, etc) would be $5.6mm? That was the moment my trust was shaken a bit.

    google: lawn mowing brooklyn bridge park maintenance

    for that classic presentaion

  • resident

    ABC, I followed your google tracks and what you don’t say is that the per acre cost is right in line with the two other large new york city parks built on the piers (Hudson River Park and Battery Park City). That presentation does make it look bad, but I think that is more a communication failure than a bloating of maintenance expenses.

    We may disagree on certain points, but can we at least all agree that the people who drove this park forward want BBP to be big, beautiful and worthy of our community? Doesn’t it make sense that they want to assure that their is funding to keep it that way?

    William, I agree that waterfront usage could generate revenue (as the water taxi stops, and planned marina will do). But jet ski and small boat rentals isn’t going to do it, you have to be thinking large river cruise boats, etc., and I’m sorry, that’s far more intrusive on the park than housing and hotels on the perimiter of the uplands.

  • resident

    ugh… there, not their in the second paragraph

  • ABC

    the marina was cut way back when. no marina.

    isn’t BPC built on landfill? it’s on piers?

    I really think Bloomberg did more to move this thing forward than anyone else. I’m not huge fans of the current top people at BBPCC.

    I think there has been a lack of community involvement. Which is not to say I don’t love the park. But this is something we need to pay for. I’d like to see a budget. Is that too much to ask?

  • bklyn20

    I and others have repeated, endlessly, that the maintenance costs per acre are in line with Hudson River Park and Battery Park City because THEY COUNT THE WATER ACRES BETWEEN THE PIERS AS LAND ACRES! This is basic 4th grade division stuff. If you count the water acres as park LAND, then the footprint of the buildings goes down to 10% from over 20%.

    How much does it cost to maintain an acre of water? And why was there trash in the water last time looked closely at the BBP shoreline?

    You know, I am 6 feet tall in heels — if I count my height as 6 feet and then use that to compute my BMI, well — I am super-skinny, and no dieting is required! I coulda been a supermodel!!

    This is the kind of fuzzy-logic ramparts on which the 2004 park plan was built, and which is used to justify housing in the park.

    Resdential condos in a park are not a problem merely because of their “footprint.” Don’t they have a “viewprint” and a skyprint” too? People living in a park space, in luxury buildings no less, change the very character of the park. Louder or more boisterous activities become problematic, as they disrupt the lives or sleep of the residents. Condo owners may be uncomfortable with the appearance or habits of people who go to the park, creating overall tension, to say the least. This is supposed to be a citywide park if not even a World Class Park — capitalization not mine.

    Why did the BHA, for all its good works, decry the new tall ugly (went up 4 or 5 years ago?) building on Montague between Clinton and Court Streets, above Garden of Eden? The BHA couldn’t legally stop it because that block is not in the Brooklyn Heights historic district. The decried its unsuitablility to the area — and I agree, it is ugly an unsuitable — and I mean no offense to those who live there, I’m just writing about the building.

    Why are tall ugly buildings bad for Montague Street and good for Brooklyn Bridge Park? Why was the BBP funding formula changed to encompass capital maintenace rather than simple operational maintenance of the park (lawn mowing et al)? This is all built on a lie, with many smaller lies to hold up the big funding fallacy. With housing, especially if the new buildings go up, the lie is perpetuated, along with a model of park financing that is only good for some, rather than for all.

    If you believe that the current BBP funding model is right for this and other parks, than perhaps you believe the world is flat. Which might be a good idea — then we could get rid of the berm.

  • Andrew Porter

    Ya know, BKLYN20, just because you post the same thing in numerous places on the BHB doesn’t make it any more important. And it’s starting to get annoying.

  • ABC

    I agree with BKLYN20.

    It’s annoying at best and deceiving at worst to count the water as part of the park. I wouldn’t even mind the water btw the piers, but including the water well into the river as part of the “acres” that require maintaining is whack.