Recap of Brooklyn Bridge Park Advisory Council Meeting

Last night, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Community Advisory Council held their initial meeting at St. Francis College. The Council was set up to advise the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation as the remaining sections of the park are built, as well as to offer input on the continually thorny issues of park funding and potential condo development within the park boundaries.

Between Council members (representatives of local elected officials, neighborhood associations and community groups), BBPDC staff and members of the public, about 50 people were in attendance.

Much of the meeting was on organizational matters for the Council. Members will serve two year terms; meetings will held bi-monthly, and with more advance notice than the 24 hours notice given for this meeting. Draft bylaws are being circulated for review.

Following opening comments by Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez and Assemblywoman Joan Millman (Councilman Steven Levin and Senator Daniel Squadron arrived and spoke later in the meeting), a briefing was provided on construction status by Regina Myer, head of the BBPDC:
- Restrooms at the Pier 6 uplands have opened
- The first section of the Pier 6, including landscaping and volleyball courts will open in the Spring.
- Work is continuing on Pier 5, including underwater repairs of the pilings; landscaping will begin next year, to open in 2012.
- Reconstruction of Empire-Fulton Ferry Park should be done by next summer, including installation of the merry-go-round
- Uplands of piers 3 and 5 should open in the winter 2012-spring 2013 period.

In other park news:

Staff is developing park rules (17- page draft document online)
- park hours 6 am – 1 am
- No skateboarding
- No biking on walking paths
- No dogs on lawn (dog run on pier 6)
- No fishing (a designated fishing area will be built later)

(This led to question about access for political rallies/gatherings and the rights of vendors. BBP is following City park guidelines and court rulings.)

RFP responses for use of the Tobacco Warehouse were due Oct 13 and are being reviewed.

An RFP has been issues for operation of the full restaurant on Pier 6, set to open next summer.

BBPDC has established a Committee on Alternatives to Housing. A Consultant has been secured to assist with review of options to provide alternative funding for park needs. The review process will start shortly, and public hearings will be held in December. A draft report is due in 120 days.

Discussion was held on potential uses of temporary vacant spaces (for example the former warehouse site). BBPDC say they do not have available funding to make use of these spaces.

Concerns were raised about the impact of using chipseal and gravel on the pathways on access to the park for the disables. A request was made to consider switching to alternative materials.

An issue discussed at some length was what the role of the CAC will be, and whether the BBPDC will give its recommendations due consideration. Judi Francis, a CAC member and a leading figure in past opposition to the park funding strategies expressed concern that the recommendations of previous advisory boards had largely been ignored by decision makers. The meeting chair said the plan was for the CAC to brief the BBPDC Board at each of its meetings.

In line with the discussion on the Council role, a motion was introduced and passed to ask the Board to make the responses to the Tobacco Warehouse RFP public. A motion was also passed to add Sandy Balboza, head of the Atlantic Ave betterment association to the CAC

The meeting ended at 8:15 PM. The next meeting is scheduled for January 4, 2010.

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  • T.K. Small

    Good summary!

  • Matthew Parker

    Agreed, an accurate recap of the meeting.

    Hopefully the Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) will help faciliate the continued creation of a wonderful park for all people by increasing transparency and serving as a communication conduit between the public and the development corporation. I hope the development corporation will listen.

    The politicians, council members, community members and BBP staff members in attendance, I felt, were cautiously optimisitc about the newly innaugurated CAC.

  • T.K. Small

    Matthew, I have a dog run question regarding Madison Park in Manhattan. Can you possibly e-mail me off-line when convenient?

  • Matthew Parker

    Sure T.K. I don’t have your email addy and don’t see it under the staff section of BHB. Perhaps Homer can send you my email address or he can send yours to me?

  • Matthew Parker

    T.K. and Homer: Nevermind, I found an email address for T.K. on his personal website. Thanks.

  • mbutz

    1am is awfully late for a PARK. . .I don’t relish the sound of crowds walking down Joralemon @ 1:15 in the morning. Who decided on that time?

  • Matthew Parker

    @mbutz:

    Most parks in NYC are opened from 6am-1am. At the meeting the BBP ops manager said most of the rules adopted have been taken to closely match NYC Park rules. A few months back, BBP was transfered from the state to city.

  • http://deleted Another voice

    This account is not accurate. Most CAC members were outraged by the lack of answers to the questions posed by the community members like what the purpose of this group really is especially now that all the money has been spent and designs decided and hotel and housing RFP’s still planned for inside the park’s borders. Myer rebuffed the Heights Assn and Dumbo Assn Presidents’ pleas for information on the Tobacco Warehouse RFP’s – Myer wouldn’t even tell them how many responses were sent in! When asked about the lack of attendance by the BBP DC board members – do they really care?- she again gave no answer. When asked why key community people were left off the list like Atlantic Ave Betterment Associaiton there was no response. When asked who came up with the list of participants Myer again would not answer. Seems like we have a few boosters with their heads in the sand “reporting” here.

  • http://brownstonerepublicanclub.com Joe Nardiello

    Is the idea still on the table/discussed further from Sen. Squadron – of adding an additional tax on local Bklyn Hts. Cobble Hill, Dumbo residents (through Albany, City legislation)? or does the restaurant RFP, etc. address the annual cost for upkeep?

  • Adam G

    I’m glad that the gravel paths are being reconsidered. I bike the path through the park to and from my office in Dumbo, and it’s always a relief on the way home to get back onto the blacktop segment, temporary as it may be.

  • Matthew Parker

    @ anonymous poster “Another Voice”:

    Which part of the recap wasn’t accurate? It’s all accurate, though not a word by word transcription of a 2+ hour meeting.

    When you mention “Most CAC members were outraged by the lack of answers to the questions posed by the community members”, that’s your perception or opinion.

    If you’re a CAC member, perhaps you were outraged, but how can you possibly make the assumption that 24 other people were “outraged”? I wasn’t. Other members whom I spoke with after the meeting were not outraged. Myself and the other CAC members I spoke with are cautiously optimisitc that this newly innaugurated CAC will function as a means to funnel the diversity of community sentiment and opinion to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation officers. We’ll observe if this cautious optimism is naive or incorrect, but that will take time and experience.

    As acting CAC co-chair John Dew mentioned at the beginning and end of the evening, this was an innaugural meeting. The by-laws aren’t even in place yet. And he asked that all new CAC members who may have been members of previous CACs leave their baggage from those experiences behind and give the new body a chance.

    Time and experience will tell if this new CAC is simply window dressing and unworthy of citizen involvement or credibility, or truly a way for the community to have some influence and voice to the BBP Corporate officers.

    At the end of the meeting, one of the co-chairs indicated that it was an oversight that Sandy Balboza, President of the Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association was left off the CAC membership, as only 25 member bios were included in the initial appointed membership and the proposed bi-laws counted for 27. Why not take people at their word until proven otherwise?

    If Sandy is intentionally excluded from the CAC, and if the by-laws allow an existing member to abdocate his/her position and appoint their own replacement, I state here that I will relinquish my position on the CAC to see representation from the ABA, which is a truly representational organization from the neighborhood.

    To state that “Seems like we have a few boosters with their heads in the sand “reporting” here” is cynical, negative, presumtive, and does not give the BBP Corporation, the staff of the BBP, the elected officials in attendance (one congresswoman, one state senator, one state assemblywoman, and one councilman), or the concept of this new CAC a chance.

    Consider revealing your identify to the community since you have the keyboard courage to make these claims and opinions anonymously. What do you have to hide?