Public Service or Propaganda?

From the BHB Inbox comes photos of a “diorama” from Two Trees promoting its Dock Street DUMBO project in the window of The Brooklyn Eagle’s headquarters at 30 Henry Street.   Is this a sign that the Eagle is “in the tank” for the Walentas or is it an old media version of a “guest post” on a blog? [Update: The Eagle addresses this question on its website. The paper says it is not being compensated for the display and is asking its readers for feedback on the project.]

Accompanying the display of what DUMBO would look like should the project go through is a letter from Jed Walentas:

Dear Neighbors,

As you may know Two Trees Management has proposed a mixed use development on Dock Street in DUMBO that will bring to the community a desperately needed new middle school, affordable housing and a green building with neighborhood oriented retail and parking for the park. Since there has been a lot of discussion in the neighborhood about this project – some of it accurate, but unfortunately much of it misinformed – we wanted you to have the opportunity to see first hand from this model just how contextual this building is within the DUMBO neighborhood. As the Kean of the Pratt School of Architecture sad, Dock Street DUMBO “fits extemely well” and “is very respectful of the Brooklyn Bridge.”

More information renderings and an animation of the project can be found on our website Thank you for your interest in this exciting project.


Jed Walentas

P.S. This model was originally constructed for another planning meeting several years aga and therfore includes a few details – such as a proposed [illegible in photo] marina – that never came to fruition. Please note however that Dock Street DUMBO building, the surrounding comuunity and nearby structures are all accurate in form and built to scale.

“Propaganda Department” observes  in this week’s OTW:

Anyone check out the store front diorama/model/propaganda that appeared near the corner of Middagh and Henry in the Daily Eagle building?

I was wondering why after many years the Daily Eagle took down the two way mirrors that I used to admire myself in everytime I passed.

Tonight we all learn why: Mr. Jed Walentas, scion of DUMBO daddy fame is trying to pursuade the good people of Brooklyn Heights of the righteousness of his cause to obscure a magnificent view of the world famous and hometown precious Brooklyn Bridge.

And of course all of us from this blog know of his carrot to the community of offering space for a public middle school.

For those who either are so uncool that they don’t read this blog, or haven’t yet hear the developer’s side of the controversy, it’s all there for your Xmas window shopping pleasure as you pass Noodle Pudding. A small scale model showing the proposed Dock Street bohemoth looking harmless and unassuming.

Of course, the other side of the story can be plainly seen in less favorable renderings on this site:

If your name is Gunther, please don’t sign the petiton.

I took some photos tonight with my CrackBerry and will email them to Homer to post if he sees fit. Let the shouting and talking past each other re-commence!

Community Board 2 will hold a hearing on the project on Wednesday, December 17th at 6:00 p.m. at the Long Island University Health Sciences Center, Room 107.

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  • Beavis

    We all know “dead tree edition” newspaper ad revenue is way down (thanks in part to Homer’s blog).

    Maybe the Eagle advertising department is getting creative with new sources of ad revenue?

  • Bklyn Native

    Was the proposed marina in the scale model so that Jed could park his yacht near the family crib? Alternative side street parking is difficult in DUMBO.

  • Propaganda Dept

    It appears that the Brooklyn Eagle is an enthusiastic supporter of the Dock St. project in more ways than one. From the Dock Street propaganda site quoted above, a Brooklyn Eagle writer in an editorial says “In sum, it is time to get over a reflexive pique, and to recognize that the Dock Street project on more counts than one offers the best prospect for a locally much-needed middle school.”

    Would be interesting to know if the Eagle is receiving financial compensation for allowing Two Trees to put their diorama in the window.

  • Homer Fink

    PD – in the interest of transparency and full disclosure, the Eagle should let people know the facts behind this move.

  • Anonymous

    A marina where there is open water now??

  • In the Heights

    It has not been stated anywhere that if this project goes through, that the middle school would specifically be a District 13 school. It is possible that it could be a school that is open city-wide.

  • Nancy

    I don’t get it. Why is displaying a model of a proposed project propaganda? Isn’t it just showing the proposal and letting people decide on its merits?

  • Jazz

    Nancy, I believe that is the open question here.

  • Nancy

    Jazz, the real question I think is “how dare the Brooklyn Eagle take an editorial stance in favor of a project that the BHA opposes?”
    If there has been propaganda coming from anywhere it has been from the opponents of this project. That alone makes me inclined to support it.

  • Carlo Trigiani

    For the last year I have studied the Dock Street Proposal, attended PS 8 middle school committee meetings, asked Two Trees countless questions, listened to the BHA and David Yassky. I have had many conversations with other PS 8 parents, considered all arguments and read your blog.

    I conclude that Dock Street is the best solution to the middle school dilema in our neighborhood. More importantly, I feel strongly it is what’s best for all our kids.


    Carlo Trigiani

  • Jazz

    Nancy, Groucho would be proud.

  • Nancy

    Jazz, thanks, hillarious.
    You should forward that clip to several local community organizations.

  • Tim N.

    I thought the plan was to turn the Police building on Poplar into a middle school?

    This is an old developer’s trick. Agree to do something nice in exchange for wrecking the landscape, then turn the tables on their opponents and say “what, no school? Okay.”

  • Dumbo Parent

    Here, here Carlo. I wish the Brooklyn Heights Association would stick to their own neighborhood and leave us in Dumbo alone. They are trying to confuse the discussion with proposing to extend PS 8 from K thru 8 as an alternative. This will only lead to more delays in getting a good middle school into the area. Who elected them to represent us? No one! And they just have Yassky, or should I say “Yessky” running around like their lapdog. Dock St is a much needed development on a lousy block in Dumbo. So what if the Eagle is helping to get out some information on the project. Beats the mis-information campaign the anti-Dock Street gang keeps putting out. Publicly they talk about protecting the views from the Bridge. Privately they talk about not wanting kids from the projects in the neighborhood, protecting the views from their apartments and thus their property values. I know this because I own in Dumbo and have been on the receiving end of the, “you should be concerned about these issues as an owner” speech and then heard the pitch being made to PS8 parents, as I am one also, that the “space at Dock St. is not suitable for a Middle School and you should support the search for an alternative site”. The two stories don’t jive and the latter is not true.

  • Nancy

    And as a Heights resident I wonder why the BHA is spending its time and resources outside the neighborhhod when we have so many pressing problems of our own.

  • DB

    Why couldn’t Two Trees build a new diorama? And why doesn’t this include the building as they propose to construct it instead of just the footprint?

    I lean towards building the tower with middle school, but not enthusiastically since I don’t have a stake either way, but that display is cheeseball. Especially the picture of the kids playing basketball.

  • Heights Resident

    As a Heights resident, I’m glad that the BHA is showing concern for the safety of our children. If a Dock Street middle school was built, you’d have scores of children each day crossing one of the most hazardous roads and intersections in the City. Multiple crossing guards would need to be stationed, and even then it wouldn’t be save considering all the car speeding off the Brooklyn Bridge exit and all cars trying cross Old Fulton to get onto the BQE before the light changes. Eventually there would be a tragedy. I haven’t heard the pro-Dock Street contingent adequately address the safety issue, which I believe is huge. The cost of building a pedestrian bridge over that intersection would be prohibitive.

    I also haven’t heard why the former police precinct, which is currently a blight, right in the neighborhood, right down the street from PS 8, would not make a fine Middle School. The safety issue would disappear, the kids who go to PS 8 now would be on the same block but in a completely different school, and a long abandoned building that’s currently an eyesore would be put into good use.

    I’m also suspicious of the way some pro-Dock Street advocates are trying to make this seem like a BHA issue, and trying to position it as a bunch of BHA carpetbaggers trying to control something 2 blocks out of their “jurisidction”. It completely ignores that other established neighborhood organizations oppose the Dock Street development including: DUMBO Neighborhood Association, Fulton Ferry Landing Association and the Vinegar Hill Neighborhood Association. Here’s their joint statement with the BHA:

    This debate reminds me of when I was a child growing up in Brooklyn. My zoned public junior high school was sub-par, so my parents sent me to the next public junior high school, which was about 1.5 miles away. I had to walk 30 minutes each way to and from school, and it was fine. Why can’t Heights kids do the same with the existing junior high schools in Ft. Greene, which is also about 1-1.5 miles away? Are the middle schools just outside the area sub-par? I’d like for the pro-Dock Street advocates to address that.

    Regarding the model/diorama at the corner of Middagh/Henry. While technically accurate, it shows only one view of the proposed development, and from the most favorable possible angle (from the river looking in). However, virtually all views of the Brooklyn Bridge would be lost from the Brooklyn side (from Vinegar Hill, DUMBO, and areas behind).

    Once we allow a treasured iconic landmark, the world renowned symbol of Brooklyn, to be obscured as the Dock Street building will do, where does it stop? It’s sad that the developer is, I believe, cynically dangling this valuable enticement in front of good people who just want their kids to get a great public education. I have nothing against those interests.

    However, once we allow this type of concession to a developer who tries to go the public/private route to get what he wants, where does it end? It’s a bad prescedent to set, and once it’s done, that building can’t be undone.

    There’s a better way to get a middle school for the children of this area rather than selling our souls.

  • Nancy

    Honestly dear, children from DUMBO would have to cross the same streets in the opposite direction if the school were in the Heights. If you managed to walk 1.5 miles to school I think middle school children from Brooklyn Heights can navigate their way to DUMBO.
    Also, the line about selling our souls is just wacky.

  • get the facts

    Firstly, not only those living in DUMBO should be concerned about the destructive impact on our world landmark and its surroundings this development will have, but all citizens of New York City should be concerned. In fact, all citizens of our country should be concerned. This should be all about the wondrous BRIDGE and its preservation as Roebling intended it to be appreciated. A spatial bowl with low structures in close proximity and higher structures as you move away, creating a cascading effect to the eye. Secondly, parents should recognize that Tow Trees is very disingenuous. This middle school will be a District 13 middle school. This means it will be open to all students of the City of New York. Feasibly, there could be a scenario where not one local DUMBO/Heights child gets accepted to this middle school. Jed is presenting himself as the savior of local parents, assuaging their concerns regarding their children’s’ education. Actually what he is doing is preying on parents natural insecurities and desires to obtain the best for their children. Turley disingenuous and devious. An attached middle school to current PS 8 would guarantee local kids will have a continuous K-8 education. This is the way to go and I hope parents realize they are being duped… just like I have.

  • nabeguy

    Both Heights Resident and Nancy make a valid point about the traffic safety issues concerning a school on Dock Street, as I’ve posted about before. However, having now attended the PS 8 Executive Committee meeting last night, I was surprised to learn that the Dock Street proposal will most definitely be a district-wide and possibly city-wide initiative, which means that local children would have to compete for placement with hundreds, possbily thousands, of other students for a measly 300 seats. Call me selfish, call me exclusionary, call me whatever you want, but imho that plan does not live up to the areas (Heights,Vinegar Hill, Dumbo) need for a middle school. I appreciate that the BHA has made the effort to come up with a counter-plan to the DOE annex/Dock St. plan with their proposal to maximize the current PS 8 footprint to include both an annex and a middle school, even though I can see major downsides to it. At least it opens a dialogue to voices other than the SCA/DOE and Two Trees.
    By the way, does anyone know if purchasing St Charles from the diocese was ever proposed as an alternative? As a pre-exisiting school building that currently is unused, combined with the diocese needs to raise capital, I’m surprised that it never occured to anyone as a feasible alternative to new construction.

  • Heights Resident

    It will be interesting when the tens thousands of anti-Dock St. building petition signatures are presented, perhaps at the CB meeting, or during other public forums. I believe it will show overwhelming public opinion is against the building.

    Many signatures on the anti-Dock Street petition will be verifiably from folks in 11201, rather than “Gunther from Germany” as Nancy has previously asserted on another BHB posting.

    I’m disappointed that Nancy’s most recent post above didn’t address the points requested and instead dismisses others as wacky. I think it displays the weakness in the pro-Dock St. arguments to ignore legitimate alternatives and viewpoints. I realize she wants that building built. Whether Nancy’s actually a concerned neighborhood parent who wants a close by middle school or a Two Trees plant as some on BHB have previously conjectured, she’s still not addressing the legitimate anti-Dock St issues.

  • nabeguy

    Nancy, even by DOE standards, the Dock Street proposal should earn an “F” grade, as it offers no improvement over exisitng conditions other than to Two Trees and, potentially, the DOE’sbottom line. An unfinished space in a mixed-use building that purports to allow for 300 new students who would be eligible on a district-wide and possibly city-wide basis in a $1.00 deal that the DOE could rescind when they realize that they could utilize the space for better or more profitable purposes. As the adage goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

  • simon

    nabeguy, wasn’t it PS 8 that got the “F” grade? Why should education department officials want to add a middle school to a school that got a “D” in ’07 and an “F” in ’08?

  • nancy

    what are the legitimate issues I am ignoring? That the traffic is too treacherous between DUMBO and the Heights? That’s baloney. That this rather boring condo building is somehow going to totally eclipse the Brooklyn Bridge? Baloney with hallucinogenic mushrooms. That Black children will start walking around DUMBO? HORRORS! So what? Grow up!

  • nancy

    I just want to write one more thing. I am usually quite careful with language. If there is one English word that can succinctly and economically convey the nature of the opponents views as expressed on this blog, it would be “wacky”. I have thought about it and I think there is no better word.
    Thank you very much.

  • anon

    It also shows the Walentas preferred location for the carousel. There are some things that are sacred. the view plain from Brooklyn Heights is protected. Shouldn’t the Brooklyn bridge and its approaches be worth protecting as they have stood for over a hundred years. One building shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with the Brooklyn Bridge(all they have to do is keep the whole building under seven stories or limit one part to seven stories…It would seem to me there are may places for the building and the school that don’t impair the Brooklyn Bridge approach view plan(ps the OEM building’s height was reduced for the same reason)

  • Carlo Trigiani

    Nabeguy – middle school placements in NYC are done by district, not zone. Specifically, you’re middle schooler is not guaranteed a slot at the school in his neighborhood.

    This is DOE policy and if you want to change it, you should work to do so. It’s not really an argument against Dock Street.

    Logic will tell you that since the DOE has said there is a need in DUMBO/Brooklyn Heights/Vinegar Hill for a middle school, most of the 300 seats will be occupied by kids from the neighborhood. The school size of 300 seats is considered ideal by today’s standards.

    I was at the same Executive Committee meeting last night. Please introduce yourself at the next meeting.



  • nancy

    I like Carlo. He knows what he is talking about. What a breath of fresh air!

  • nicky215

    put the school in brooklyn bridge park instead of the housing- use the money from the leased land to fund the park. the school is public and will help keep the park busy in the winter. put a pool in the school and let the community use it -like the stuyvesant pool. Money from the lease for the land is I understand quite lucrative

  • clarknt67

    Is there any reason, as a person without children, I should support this proposed blight on the landscape?