Francis to NY1: No Turning Back Once Housing is in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Last night’s public hearing at LICH on alternatives to housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park was well attended according to NY1. About 100 people weighed in with alternative funding plans.

“This is the first time in the city or the state, there will be private luxury housing inside the borders of a public park. Once you put private houses inside a public park, that land is gone forever,” Judi Francis of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund told the channel.

Video after the jump.

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  • Resident

    William, I am not a resident of 1 BBP, merely a resident of Brooklyn Heights, with no connection to any organization related to the park.

    Yes, there is probably some bloat in the budget, but people are missing the point that there should be. It’s a park that must pay all expenses out of the revenues it draws in. Any capital expenditures must be paid for out of yearly revenues. You better be taking more in yearly than average maintenance costs. bklyn20, in the original presentation on maintenance costs, the per acre cost was right in between the two pier based NYC parks, I don’t know how you’re saying it’s bloated in comparison.

    I’m not pro-housing, nor anti-housing. What I am is pro-park. I want the park to be a world class amenity for the neighborhood well into the future. For that to be true, there must be a reasonable revenue stream. I question all the alternatives outside of Witness buildings development, if the unknowns are studied and it proves workable. If it takes giving up a little bit of potential parkland to maintain the park, I’m ok with that.

    I also find the anti-housing arguments are somewhat absurd. I know none of you will agree with this, but the housing is NOT “in” the park. When it’s done, the park will have definitive borders to every impartial observer just beyond the new construction. The housing will essentially have a “front lawn” of the park, but the park will still be public. The new housing is being proposed for what could be parkland, and I’m fine with the argument that it shouldn’t be there, but the “in” the park argument is idiotic and false.

  • Dudeface

    “Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.” -Alexander Hamilton

  • DrewB

    So just to clear up, resident.

    You think it is great that the budget is bloated. That we are spending piles of money we don’t have on fleets of prisuses, dune buggies, six-figure salaries and unsustainable wetlands. And you also think that buildings built on parkland, and shown on the the BBPC’s map of the park as being within the parks boundaries, aren’t really in the park. And you think that housing will not lead to privatization, even though Regina Meyer has said the “project” is run by a separate entity that has it’s own “park laws” that supercede city and state regulations. Hell as far as shes’ concerned, the first amendment doesn’t even apply. She says so right here:

    If that is the case, then this seems like a pretty futile discussion.

    Once again, I see no problem in exploring alternatives. These are alternatives that were present in the original park plan, and subsequently removed by the EDC without any real exploration. They always wanted housing the park. They refused consider anything else. The only thing that forced their hand was when politicians realized their lives were in jeopardy if they didn’t at least appear to be in favor of exploring alternatives. The community has been fighting for a real study of these alternatives for nearly 10 years. Allowing this study is not delaying construction of the park. There are no developers lined up to build on these spots. The construction of the park features is moving forward. The results of the study are due in Feb. WHAT IS THE HARM?

    I’m pro park too, but clearly we have different visions of what a park is.

  • zburch

    I was annoyed that the mayor and housing “ra ra’s” felt the need to pepper the public testimony with people that had no ideas for alternatives. I mean this was supposed to be about alternatives, not shilling for housing! That was a real joke and spoke to the mentality of the mayor’s office and the BBPC. They can’t stand anyone coming up with anything other than their vision so they had to bring in a few cheerleaders for the soul purpose of boosting their egos. Its clear its pretty much come down to that. The unwillingness to even accept alternatives is bullheaded and foolish. Clearly it is not a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket and rely so much on housing…but they have a master plan for development and anyone getting in the way of that must be crushed.

    Watching Regina Meyer throughout was like observing an angry teen that is made to sit at the dinner table. She was constantly using her blackberry or ipod under the table, ignored those that had alternatives and smirked and winced, and then gleefully sat to rapt attention when housing shills spoke up. It was disgusting to watch. Even the aides of aides that were sent knew how to behave and conduct themselves publicly. I wish there was some way to make these people understand that wanting alternatives is not an attack on THEIR ego, but a true desire to have a REAL park instead of a housing development.

    And to Marty Markowitz, if I hear you spew that BS threat about Big Box stores one more time, I think I am going to frickin’ puke. And comparing parks deep in Brooklyn, only accessible by car to this one? A complete joke, anyone can see through that load of crap.

  • Resident

    No, DrewB, what I’m saying, is that the Park better plan for greater incomes than their annual pure maintenance and operation budget requires, since when something goes wrong, there’s not going to be a bond issue to fix it. Without a little bloat (i’m not talking about “Fleets” of whatever vehicles you think are in the budget), there are going to be serious problems. I also find it amusing that you trust every “expert” that stood up to speak or supports your ideas, but not one that the city, state or park paid.

    I know exactly what a park is, and I’m completely confused by what you think one is. Would you describe any of the unbuilt piers as “a park?” What if it never gets built? Still a park? I don’t think so. If land that is not currently a park is used for some other purpose that does not make that land “in the park,” especially when that land all fronts non-parkland on at least one side. To argue otherwise is absurd.

    On the whole first amendment thing, I don’t think Ms. Meyer was correct in what she said, but it also has nothing to do with the housing issue. The park is separate because the city and state agreed it had to be. The park is not private and it won’t be private, no matter what goes in the proposed development sites.

    Finally, I’m not opposed to alternative ideas, but you must recognize that there is indeed harm in studying alternatives. The longer permanent funding is delayed through study, the greater the risk of the park failing to maintain proper funding. What I want above all else is a great park and a system to pay for it. I’m not sure the harm of the delay is enough risk not to partake in the studies, but it might be.

  • DrewB

    Once again, I didn’t say I don’t believe the project administrations opinions, it’s just that the EDC never really explored alternatives. Finally after 10 years of pleading, they’ve reluctantly agreed that these alternatives never got a real look. This study will conclude in February, does not impede progress on park construction, and will answer questions that should have been resolved years ago.

    “What I want above all else is a great park and a system to pay for it. ”

    There’s one thing we can agree on. Other than that I’m kinda tired of talking in circles. Clearly we are coming at this from different points of view.

    I continue to hold out hope that there are alternatives that can remove or diminish the need for high rises in the park. I, and many others who’ve worked on this project from it’s inception 25+ years ago, thick that is worth two months of consideration. If they’d done that in the beginning, maybe we wouldn’t be here.

  • william

    Resident, you speak with a forked tongue as the American Indians would say. You are just trying to baffle people with your bullsh-t. There is no brilliance in your arguments for housing and nothing else for funding the site.

    Are you a sales manager for 2 Trees Management? If so, you don’t have an open mind. Your position is paid for, and the people reading this post are not confused by your absurd definition of what a park is or isn’t.

    Cash your check. You earned it the old fashioned way. But you don’t deserve a new car from Regina. You aren’t that good.

  • ujh

    I second Resident’s explanation of where the BBP maintenance dollars will go, namely, each year millions will be needed to maintain the pylons holding up the piers, and it is impossible to raise them from some restaurants and carts operating in the park. Is construction of restaurants and other concessions all over the park preferable to residential housing, which requires the smallest footprint? New York State retains its interest in the land and yes, the park boundary has not been determined to date; ask Assemblywoman Millman or Senator Squadron. As to the Watchtower Society’s properties (former Squibb complex), they cannot be incorporporated into the park and yield PILOTS because Furman Street and Columbia Heights would have to be demapped as public roads (do you see this happen ever?) to make the Watchtower building site contiguous to the park. However, if one or more developers were to acquire and adapt them for residential use, Sen. Squadron’s proposal to establish PIRCS may have a chance of passing legislation. If I remember correctly, he proposes to set aside the increment in real estate taxes, which would result from the rise in real estate values within a .25 mile radius of the park. This increment would go toward park maintenance. Unfortunately, nobody knows when any developer is willing and able to begin new construction, whether it’s on Pier 6, adjacent to the park or within a 0.25 mile radius.

  • jenn

    Parks should be for the public and not include luxury housing; the two ideas are in conflict. Central Park does not need condos to support itself. Maybe they should make it like Gramercy Park, put a fence around it and only provide keys to the people who can afford to live there.

  • http://deleted buddy11210

    Ursula and Resident, you forget that the housing bubble has burst. There is a glut of luxury housing that experts (yes, real estate experts) say can not be absorbed for a very long time – if even in
    our lifetime. So the lopsided housing plan has already put the park
    in jeopardy. Time for new ideas – many already presented.
    If the Mayor wants this park, he will have to find another way to pay for it, without housing.

  • taco2020

    A car tax / parking permit system like the one in Arlington, Virginia would generate an amazing revenue stream and also generate jobs.

  • taco2020

    …And the parks in Arlington county are incredible…

  • Dave

    “Central Park does not need condos to support itself.”

    85% of Central Park’s budget comes from the Central Park Conservancy, aka donations from wealthy individuals with a view of the park (e.g. Michael Bloomberg – wouldn’t be surprised if he pays half of that out of pocket).

    While there will undoubtedly be donations to the BBP from people in the neighborhood, expecting it to be supported by philanthropy to the extent that Central Park is would be downright foolish.

  • william

    Where did this come from? Are the rats coming out of their holes with the warm weather?