BHA Will Not Oppose Library Plan Under Certain Conditions

The Brooklyn Heights Association has taken an official stance on the potential “redevelopment” of the neighborhood’s Cadman Plaza Public Library branch in a post on the organization’s website. It writes…

Like other cultural institutions, the Brooklyn Public Library has faced cuts in its City-provided funding in recent years. The Brooklyn Heights branch library building is situated on an under-built City-owned plot outside of the Brooklyn Heights Historic District. The BPL sees demolition of the existing branch and redevelopment of the land as a way to provide money for the library system and a new, state-of-the-art branch for Brooklyn Heights.

The BPL states that the City has agreed that proceeds from the sale will go to the BPL, and that the BPL will use at least some of the funds to design and outfit a new branch. The BPL has also stated that it is committed to providing interim service in a leased location (not a bookmobile) to Brooklyn Heights in the event that the sale and development move ahead.

The Brooklyn Heights Association board has voted that, at this time, the BHA will not oppose redevelopment plans for the Brooklyn Heights Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library providing that: 1) there is continuity of library service in Brooklyn Heights throughout the development period; 2) the replacement Brooklyn Heights Branch Library is of adequate size; and 3) the proceeds from the transaction go to the Brooklyn Public Library.

All on the BHA Board agree that the library is an important part of our community and that the BHA should be part of the planning process. Through our membership in the Community Advisory Group, and by working in tandem with the Friends of the Brooklyn Heights Branch, we expect to be strong advocates for a new library that meets the needs of our community.

Publisher’s note: The headline has been revised since original publication to better reflect reality.

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  • sue

    The BHS position is a disgrace. The elites are again trying to speak for the public they do not represent.
    How many BHA board members use the Public Library?
    They are only supporting keeping LICH open for their own self-interested need for emergency care.

  • sue

    I had an idea.. Why not move the library to the casino during the building phase. The casino has lots of space and this could demonstrate what great neighbors the BHA board is

  • Bookworm

    As a member of the BHA board who does not belong to the Casino and does use the library, I suggest that we try to have a discussion on the merits and not take cheap shots.

  • stuart

    I think this is a sensible position for the BHA to take. You can’t be against everything. The site is outside the historic district and it is surrounded by midrise apartment buildings. The public library made the decision that this branch was worth more dead than alive. In years to come it will probably be seen as a really interesting example of mid-century design but we’re not there yet, so its toast. Obviously the problem will be the transition. I can foresee a scenario where the hot real estate market suddenly turns cold just after the old library is torn down but before the new building goes up. The result? Years and years with the site as a hole in the ground.

  • sue

    The proposed development at the Donnell Library has been a whole in the ground for years… and years I believe our Heights resident Offensend had alot to do with this

  • sue

    ok lets look at the economics.. if we pay more taxes for our libraries what % of the bha board is in the 1%, what % in the 99%

  • MadeInBrooklyn

    Having lived in the neighborhood for over 30 years, I gotta that say the useless snobs of the BHA have always saddened me… This tops it.

  • martinlbrooklyn

    The BHA says this library is on a city-owned, under-built block. True. But in fact it was paid for with tax payer funds under the conditions of the Urban Renewal Title One program which envisioned a higher use for the land in employing eminent domain to the previously privately owned property.
    In this case, the higher use was a ‘public’ use. The neighborhood benefits also included the preservation of light and air by a limited height building. That is all being sold off now in a hasty exchange for a quick fix to a long-term urban issue, how best to utilize city land and pay for amenities to serve the entire community. Trading our more than half-century old legacy for a simple solution does not point a viable way for a happy future for publicly supported facilities and a great city.

  • Hicks St Guy

    if you don’t like the BHA position, and it seems like most of these commentators don’t, have you ever considered attending meetings, joining up and getting involved?

  • sue

    I am involved but not with that group.

  • Sally Moskowitz

    How about we put on a Show! Produce a reality television show called ” Hedgefund Housewives” or to widen the spectrum we could call it “Wallstreet Husbands” with the profits we could build a state of the art library that focuses more on digital media and archival preservation. Also, a homeless shelter in the basement would be a nice touch.

  • Remsen Street Dweller

    Those “useless snobs” are supporting keeping our hospital LICH open. What are you doing?

  • PushingBack

    The Bloomberg Legacy: starve public goods;
    bully the agencies and other public officials into acquiescing and
    internalizing that “there’s nothing else we can do”; privatize as much
    as possible and allow private developers/other corporations
    to set the rules. The Brooklyn Public Library system is a perfect case
    study. “The Brooklyn Heights branch was closed for 30 days last summer
    because its central air-conditioning kept failing; replacing it alone
    would cost $3 million. But the city gives the entire Brooklyn system
    only $15 million a year for repairs and construction, Mr. Nachowitz
    said, with the rest of its financing coming from private donations and
    other sources.” Well, then, what can we expect, and why no fighting back in support of PUBLIC goods? And do we really think any private developer (who can build 25-40 stories on the site) won’t hold a library branch hostage– “give me what I want or I won’t build the branch”, as is apparently happening with public amenities elsewhere?

  • Carlotta

    Fixing the air conditioning at the library was NOT $3 million. More like $750,000. The BHA has delusions if they think they will have much say in the “process”. And, has anyone thought about where the children in another high rise will go to school? Maybe the city will use the money to build another public school in the neighborhood?? HAH!!

  • sue

    That is out of total snob self interest. They don’t want to die in the middle of the night without an ER closely. They do not care about the library because they do not use it

  • Knight

    The BHA did not say it “supports” the plans; it said it “will not oppose” the plans provided three specific conditions are met. There is a big difference in rhetoric that the author (or the headline writer if different) has overlooked.

  • sue

    The BHA position gives cover for those that want the condo. It does does protect the library. It is unhelpful

  • MadeInBrooklyn

    I’ve done tons for my community over the years, including supporting LICH’s fight to stay open (I’ve been a patient at the hospital many times, and was born there). Regardless of the BHA helping LICH — and kudos to them for that — they are still dropping the ball ONCE AGAIN, and should fight to keep a library open in our neighborhood, plain and simple.

  • MadeInBrooklyn

    Oh, and I still think they are all f**king snobs… Smooches.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=631255472 Quinn Raymond

    As a dues-paying member of the BHA and someone whose daughter uses the library on a weekly basis this seems like a reasonable compromise.

    That parcel is underdeveloped and on a dead edge of the neighborhood. The building isn’t historically significant, and the library facility itself is inadequate and outdated. I would rather deal with a few years in a transition location and get a modern library out of the deal.

    Provided the promises are kept (a big if) I am supportive.

    Another alternative could be a citywide dedicated “library tax” but I’m not sure how many of you would be willing to pay it. Remember, everyone always wants services but no one ever wants to pay for them. It is the great dilemma of governance.

  • Homer Fink

    I revised headline.

  • Michael D. D. White

    It is appalling, highly troubling, and very suspicious that the Brooklyn Heights Association, supposedly still an organization that is supposed to be protecting the community interest would advocate the sale and the significant shrinkage of the Brooklyn Heights library. (Likely also resulting in a permanent shortening of hours.) Not only do they advocate doing that, but they are advocating for the BPL’s and the developer’s positions about development straight down the line, not on single deviation. And yet they have the gall to say they expect to advocate for the community on this! In what regard pray tell?

    You can find a thorough analysis here at Noticing New York:

    Monday, March 18, 2013
    Community Alert! Community Alert! The Brooklyn Heights Association’s New Community Alert Says The BHA Favors The Sale And Shrinkage Of The Neighborhood’s Library!
    http://noticingnewyork.blogspot.com/2013/03/community-alert-community-alert.html

    There is also much more information, links to contact politicians, and a petition to sign to prevent this at the Citizens Defending Libraries site:
    http://citizensdefendinglibraries.blogspot.com/2013/02/citizens-defending-libraries-resource.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/michaeldd.white Michael D D White

    It is appalling, highly troubling, and very suspicious that the Brooklyn Heights Association, supposedly still an organization that is supposed to be protecting the community interest would advocate the sale and the significant shrinkage of the Brooklyn Heights library. (Likely also resulting in a permanent shortening of hours.) Not only do they advocate doing that, but they are advocating for the BPL’s and the developer’s positions about development straight down the line, not on single deviation. And yet they have the gall to say they expect to advocate for the community on this! In what regard pray tell?

    You can find a thorough analysis here at Noticing New York:

    Monday, March 18, 2013
    Community Alert! Community Alert! The Brooklyn Heights Association’s New Community Alert Says The BHA Favors The Sale And Shrinkage Of The Neighborhood’s Library!
    http://noticingnewyork.blogspot.com/2013/03/community-alert-community-alert.html

    There is also much more information, links to contact politicians, and a petition to sign to prevent this at the Citizens Defending Libraries site:
    http://citizensdefendinglibraries.blogspot.com/2013/02/citizens-defending-libraries-resource.html

  • Cranberry Beret

    I agree with the BHA though would have liked them to go one step further and call for a honest examination of the process by the BPL board, who in my opinion is being disingenous. They’re trumpeting the idea that a new building “will be built at no public expense” (see NYT article) which is literally true as to the construction, but conveniently omits the fact that thereafter the BPL will pay rent to a private party (I don’t believe the BPL currently pays rent to the city, but please correct me if I’m wrong). So it’s not a cost-free transaction overall. As the BHA properly notes, there’s not currently any agreement between the city and the BPL for the library to receive any sale proceeds — again the BPL has made no effort to correct the misperception (as evidenced by the NYT article) that this is somehow a windfall for the BPL and a great idea for the BPL to tap hidden value. In fact, it’s a interesting proposal for the city to raise money by selling off a public asset (and as martin points out, should be up for debate on the merits of that idea), but that doesn’t help the BPL unless the city gives the proceeds to the library or otherwise increases its financial support. The only benefit to the library is the decrease in anticipated repair/maintenance costs (which as others have pointed out, the BPL seems to be exaggerating in their zeal to do this deal).

  • http://twitter.com/debfrombrooklyn deborah hallen

    Good idea!

  • Wiley E.

    Rent the space to CVS for a pharmacy.

  • Reggie

    Cranberry, since you asked to be corrected if wrong, I will. BPL will not pay rent on a future branch library if the site is redeveloped. The community facility space would be donated back to the city as a condominium unit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michaeldd.white Michael D D White

    Your husband illustrates books. And you are. . . . ? This is not a joke. Libraries should be protected. They honestly deserve far better.

  • David on Middagh

    You make some good points, but a new library in that location would still be on a dead edge of the neighborhood and in what would likely be an ugly, or at best non-historically significant building (judging from what’s been going up these last few years). Perhaps the plot-buyer should pay for a space in a livelier spot of the neighborhood.

  • Sue

    Have you heard..
    David Offensend of BHA fame has published a new book. It is titled HOW I LEARNED TO STEAL PUBLIC LAND AND CLOSE LIBRARIES IN BUSINESS SCHOOL. CHAPTER I IS AN OVERVIEW OF THE DESTRUCTION OF THE DONNEL LIBRARY ON 53RD ST IN MANHATTAN. IT ENDS WITH THE WHOLE IN THE GROUND THAT IS STILL THERE
    CHAPTER 2 IS ABOUT HIS ATTEMPT TO DESTROY THE BROOKLYN HEIGHTS AND BROOKLYN BUSINESS BRANCH.
    CHAPTER 3 IS ABOUT HOW THIS MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE WAS FIRED BY THE PUBLIC
    HE DISDAINS. IT IT BEING MADE INTO A MOVIE. SEVERAL HEDGEFUND HOUSEWIVES ARE SET TO APPEAR