In a letter to Robert Steel, Chair of the Committee on Alternatives to Housing of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Board and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Borough President Marty Markowitz, Assembly Member Joan Millman, and City Council Members Steve Levin and Brad Lander urged further consideration of payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) on residential properties to be developed in buildings to be vacated by Watchtower as a source of funds for operation and maintenance of Brooklyn Bridge Park. In so doing, they supported the resolutions of Community Boards 2 and 6, and of the Community Advisory Council to the Park, that the Watchtower properties and other potential sources of funds be considered in lieu of housing to be constructed on park land to funds the Park’s upkeep.
According to the letter:
In resolutions passed at full community board meetings held on April 13th the members urged BAE [Bay Area Economics, the consultants retained by the Park Corporation to study alternatives to housing] to conduct a fuller study of revenue options, including studying the different mechanisms by which the Jehovah’s Witness Watchtower properties can be used to fund the maintenance and operations of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Specifically, Community Board 2 asks for the study of “the use of Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreements to capture tax revenues from future tax-paying owners of certain currently exempt Watchtower Society properties,” and Community Board 6 requests consideration of “a fuller range of other revenue opportunities relating to these properties.” A broad array of community organizations — including the Brooklyn Bridge Park Community Advisory Council — have submitted the same feedback to BAE pertaining to the Watchtower properties as the community boards’ resolutions.
We endorse these organizations’ request that BAE’s final report include a comprehensive study of how revenue from the nearly three million square feet of Watchtower properties can be used to fund the park, including the proposals that have not yet been studied in the draft report.
Both Squadron and Millman have been granted veto power over any proposal for park funding that includes housing to be built on park land.