Squadron, Millman, Levin Urge New Bid for Pier 5 Bubble

We’ve just received word from State Senator Daniel Squadron’s office that he, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, and City Council Member Steve Levin have together asked the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation to issue a new request for proposals to operate a facility that would allow use of the athletic field on Pier 5 during the colder months. They note that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under which the City agreed to fund Park construction includes an appropriation of $750,000 for such a facility, and that the community still wants it. More of their statement follows the jump:

Our discussions with concessionaires have made clear that the terms of the initial RFP had a number of drawbacks that resulted in no responses. Specifically, the unusually short lengths of both the contract (five years) and the operating season (four months) made the RFP unattractive for potential applicants. For context, the 2009 RFP issued by City Parks for the bubble at Mill Pond Park Sports Facility was for a term of 20 years, with a seven-month operating season of October to the end of April. Similarly, the 2011 McCarren Park tennis bubble RFP offered a contract term of 15 years, with the same seven-month operating season.

The $750,000 secured in the August MOU remains on the table. We remain committed to realizing the community’s goals at Pier 5. Therefore, there is an opportunity for the BBPC to reissue an RFP or RFEI for a bubble that meets the needs of the community and is commercially viable. Such an RFP or RFEI would ensure community access and free and low-cost programming in the bubble, as well as a plan to ensure year-round recreation on Pier 5, with an opportunity for equal use by all.

It would also:

1. Extend the concessionaire’s contract from five years to a minimum of 10 years;

2. Extend the operating season from four months to five or six months;

3. Allow flexibility in the orientation and size of the bubble;

4. Allow for a regulation-size playing field;

5. Request a plan for facilities.

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  • Robert Perris

    Bravo! The elected officials are wise not to be so blunt, but the original RFP was designed to fail. And in case I am not being blunt enough, let me paraphrase; the development corporation intentionally wrote the RFP to ensure that no one responded.

    But isn’t this all too late? Hasn’t BBPDC put out to bid the contract for construction of Pier 5 without a bubble?

  • resident

    Who wants an ugly bubble up at the end of the pier for any longer than necessary?

    The part that the release leaves out is that the two bubbles they mentioned are tennis-only facilities. It makes far more sense that tennis would use a bubble for longer periods of time as the wet and dreary months of the fall and early spring really do make it difficult if not impossible to play tennis without the protection of the bubble. On the other hand, a soccer field, can pretty much be utilized any time there isn’t snow covering the field. It’s ridiculous to think that what could be a beautiful outdoor field should be covered in October, November, March and April.

    I personally think the bubble is a waste of money. If you can’t deal with cold weather, don’t play soccer (or football, or anything else). Maybe they can use the money on some sort of field-safe plow for our once or twice yearly snowstorm.

  • stuart

    The bubbles are a great idea that will greatly increase the number of days that the piers can be used. But in Bloomberg’s New York they will need to directly generate revenue. There is no such thing as “free” parkland. Either a new bubble tax will be imposed or a new condo tower will be built next to the bubble.

  • Gerry

    We need a pool a state of the art Aquatics Center in downtown Brooklyn and not a soccer field. We need a 50 meter 20 foot deep pool like Asphalt Green on the east side of Manhattan.

  • EHinBH

    we so DO NOT need a stupid bubble. There is going to be enough going on in the Park — apartments, hotel, restaurants, fields….

    How about some more plain ol grass and trees?

  • Andrew Porter

    But…but…I was given to understand that real estate bubbles are bad things.

  • JohnQ

    So if Rob is right and the RFP was designed to fail, the question is did Squadron cynically engineer it to fail or did the old dog Bloomie outfox him?

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com Claude Scales

    Why would Squadron “cynically engineer it to fail” then come back with a demand that a new RFP be issued that isn’t designed to fail? I doubt that Bloomberg played any role in this. I think that the directors and management of the BBPC, for whatever reason, just don’t want the bubble.

  • JohnQ

    If Squadron didn’t engineer it to fail, do you think that he just wasn’t smart enough to know that it wouldn’t fly? It’s hard to believe that he would make a deal that could result in almost 1million square feet of new residential development in the north Heights for a bubble that failed to materialize, a sketchy deal to reduce housing on Pier 6 and what will probably turn out to be a 4 foot plastic pool.

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com Claude Scales

    I don’t think Squadron, or Millman or Levin, for that matter, had anything to do with the initial RFP that failed to attract any takers. That was the work of the BBPC.

  • nicky215

    Daniel Squadron got elected based on a promise of no housing in the park. He then turned around and beclame a poodle for Bloomberg on this and charter schools. He is more interested in doing Bloombergs bidding and his next job then the public,
    Sound familiar?

  • Knb

    I’m totally against the bubble. It’s a park. Not an indoor sports field. No Bubble. No Bubble. No Bubble.

  • Big Dave

    Sorry but I have to do this:
    “Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble…”

  • stuart

    do you mean:

    “double double toil and trouble. fire burn and cauldron bubble.”

  • resident

    C’mon people, you know exactly what this was. Squadron got elected almost solely on an anti-housing platform. It then became clear that it was either housing or no park, and he didn’t want to be the politician that killed the park, thus the “compromise.” The bubble was just thrown in to act like he achieved one of his goals with respect to the park (more year round recreational opportunities). He’s only acting out now because the sham that was his compromise is becoming more and more clear.

    The bubble is stupid. We don’t need a covered soccer field. Many parks in this city are used for outdoor football and soccer year round. The only disruption to use is snow covered fields, and that’s really for soccer only. Last year was an exception where snow really did have an effect on field usage for a couple solid months. A better use of the $750K of park funds to build the thing would be simply to invest in snow removal equipment. Problem solved.

    If Squadron had really been concerned with improving year round recreational opportunities, he should have argued for the inclusion of an ice rink in the uplands somewhere. Now that would be useful.

  • Big Dave

    It was a pun…

  • stuart

    obviously the controversy is between those who prefer more passive uses / open space areas and those who want a year-round sports facility. The original plan for the park did envision at least one such facility.
    Something to keep in mind is that this is not a conventional park, it is a collection of treeless, exposed, piers on pilings. As a result it can be broiling there in the summer and the windchill can be pretty brutal in the winter.
    Whatever they decide to do I wish they would get on with it. Apart from portions of piers 1 and 6 the rest of the “park” is currently a derelict eyesore.

  • mlo

    Bubbles and boxes.
    @EHinBH We had plain ol grass and trees. Now we have a glass bubble-actually a box- with a carousel inside. It would have looked much nicer as a bubble or at least with a dome top-
    looking across from the lower FDR it looks ridiculous.

    That grass lawn was enjoyed for many years by many folks. The beautiful mature trees that provided shade were cut down and now we have a big glass box.

    Why are they still calling it a park – why don’t they just call it investment land for real estate developers-with the added bonus of the taxpayers footing the bill.

  • stuart

    I think the carousel looks charming from the FDR, I pointed it out to visitors just yesterday. The success story in all this is the DUMBO portion of the park and Pier 1. The rest is being used as storage/dumping area until the real estate component of the park/development kicks in. I guess. I don’t mind new buildings on the edges of new parks, as long as we actually get the park.

  • http://brooklynheightsblog.com peter

    “Resident” has it so right. Mind you, to play 1 hour of tennis in Mill Pond’s bubble costs you $80 on weekends and $45 on weekdays (always during the day, not nights). So the concessionaire can rake in as much as $960/hour on his 12 courts on weekends, which could amount to $9,600 if all of the courts were used all 10 hours. If Squadron’s Pier 5 bubble is roughly the same size, will his concessionaire ask a soccer league to pay $960 for an hour’s practice on a weekend, or $540 on a weekday? And keep 2 of the 3 outdoor fields closed from September to May?

  • Gerry

    We need a BIG swimming pool that is open from 5am to 11pm 7 days per week.

  • resident

    @Gerry: We get it, you want a pool. Preferably indoors, no? So it isn’t overrun with kids in the summer? It’s not going to happen. A nice aquatics center is very expensive, and the park is struggling to come up with the remaining cash to build the fairly normal park features already planned.

  • mom76

    Who in their right mind would be against Jane’s carousel. This area is full of kids who adore the carousel. It is charming, it is a preservation act and it looks beautiful from any direction.

    Bubbles do look ugly… However, an hour of tennis court fee at NYSC is close to $90 and it gets booked within minutes every single day of the week. But then why not build an indoor facility closer to Furman street where the structures are now. The bubble would really distroy the view from the picnic area.

    There’s a pool at YMCA…and up on Henry and Clark I think.

  • Andrew Porter

    That’s the Eastern Athletic pool in the health club inside the St. George Tower, entrance on Clark Street. Not cheap to join, etc.

  • http://bivforbrooklyn.com Doug Biviano

    @resident’s > “It then became clear that it was either housing or no park”

    To believe that is the very reason why politicians get away with their corruption and get re-elected for life w/o consequence. Bloomberg (and his heiress Quinn) would not have been able to kill the rest of the park even if Squadron vetoed the housing (forget about Millman) but everyone buys the narrative out of fear, bogus black and white ultimatums, and a forgetfulness of what community pressure can bring.

  • Roy from Cobble Hill

    For the record and to Doug’s point– when asked directly at a recent BBP Citizen’s Advisory Committee, John Raskin, Squadron’s former Chief of Staff, said that there had been no threat from Mayor Bloomberg to stop funding the construction of the park despite the fact that Squadron repeatedly used this “threat” as a justification for giving up his veto on housing on the Pier 6 and John Street sites.

  • yoohoo

    Once and for all, I’d like to disspell the myth that Senator Squadron won his seat because only opponents of development in BBP, residential and otherwise, voted for him. The senate district extends far beyond the historic districts of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill, which means that thousands of other-minded citizens gave him their votes.

    BBP doesn’t need a bubble, particularly not at the end of a pier. Soccer and football are played during the winter months. The money would be better used to buy and maintain maintenance equipment.

  • bklyn20

    The bubble is not for tennis. The only problem with the bubble is that it must accomodate a regulation-size field. It is not slated to be a tennis bubble, so comparisons with other tennis bubbles are irrelevant.

    The big problem with the bubble, it seems, is that some people don’t consider it pretty enough for their view. Children and teens in Brooklyn and elsewhere need a place to play sports, and the piers are VERY cold in the winter — unless of course you are fully decked out in expensive down parkas — not the best attire for soccer players. Look at how Cadman Park is heavily used for team sports. Look at the yellow buses in our neighborhood ferrying kids miles away to play sports. How is it that the exercise needs of kids and adults on just 1 pier, which will keep the center of the park busy all year, is less vital than the view from someone’s window or from the Promenade?

    Do these same bubble-snubbers want hulking hocondos on Pier 1? If they supported the 2004 housing-based plan, then they lost the opportunity to have many open green fields. There will be a LARGE hotel/condo complex on Pier 1, where a small long-stay hotel was once planned. Will these same selfish persons think two tall (possibly 16 – and 32-story) condo towers near Pier 6 are nice-looking? As a matter of fact, how about the wide swaths of asphalt and pavement in the park to accomodate the car traffic of said condos? Pier 6 and its environs have enough pavement for an airport terminal.

    If you don’t like the looks of a bubble, why not donate $750,000 to put a green roof above it? Maybe the $1 million of our tax dollars spent to renovate 1 floor of the BBPC offices on Furman Street (a small building) should have been used for that, but now that money is gone, when a more reasonable amount could have been spent. I guess a World Class Park needs World Class Office Space.

    Remember, BBP is not deeded parkland. It is a “Development Project.” The people who only want a green backyard for Brooklyn Heights, the needs of the people of Brooklyn and NYC be damned, should keep that in mind.

  • mom76

    Noone argues that Brooklyn Heights needs more sports facilities for kids and teens. In fact, if you ask anyone moving from this neighborhood to the suburbs, they will quote 1) lack of good middle school and b) lack of sports facilities for kids 10 and older. The question is whether Pier 5 is the right place for it. The answer perhaps is no for thousands of people who come everyday all year round to enjoy the park and the promenade.

  • Bklyn21

    So to correct many of the inaccurate things that have been said so far:

    City officials said multiple time in multiple forums that they would only fund construction of additional sections of the Park if they believed that an adequate maintenance funding stream was in place. I don’t care what Raskin says, I’ve heard City Hall officials say those exact words. To me that means, no condos, no more Park. Also it’s ironic that Doug has so much faith in the power of public opinion since he’s run for election several times and never come close to getting elected. You’d think that he’d be more in tune with public opinion and recognize that we don’t want a clown like him representing us.

    A soccer field is 45 yds x 30 yds. That’s 12,150 SF. Each one of the development sites that bklyn20 is so against is less than 75% the size of that. So her assertion that the development sites are replacing tons of recreation space is bogus. At most, if you got rid of the development sites, you’d be able to add one or two more fields. Of course you’d have no money to maintain them , but people don’t like to focus on that when they can put forth all sorts of wacky conspiracy theories.

    And the objection to a bubble is not aesthetic. It’s very simple, when there is no bubble, there will be 3 soccer fields available for use. When there is a bubble, there will be only 1. So by having a bubble you are reducing the supply by 66%. In the winter months when the 3 fields would otherwise be unusable this makes sense. But in the fall and spring when these fields would be usable, a bubble would actually reduce the amount of recreation space, not add to it.

    What’s that? You mean that the people who run BBP are actually trying to run a park with the most amount of recreational amenities? There’s not some deep dark conspiracy working against you? Maybe Rob Perris doesn’t know his ass from his elbow? But public officials working hard to actually do their jobs is not an interesting story is it? So we’ll never red about it in the Brooklyn Paper…