Long time Brooklyn Heights resident and preservationist Martin L. Schneider has written an open letter to NYS Senator Daniel Squadron regarding the Brooklyn Public Library’s plan – and the BHA’s tacit approval – to sell the Brooklyn Heights library building. In short, the plan is to sell the building and a new library would be built into a much larger, mixed use structure.
Scheider literally wrote the book about the landmarking of Brooklyn Heights and as one of the founders of CCIC and later a governor of the Brooklyn Heights Association he’s uniquely qualified to present this concise and pointed argument to Squadron:
Dear Senator Squadron:
As a former long-time Governor of the Brooklyn Heights Assn. I am dismayed at their passive acceptance of the plan to sell of the 1962 Branch Library building for what amounts to a quick fix for the on-going budgetary needs of the main library. This is wrong on many counts, one of which is the fact that that fine small building— capacious for local library purposes— was built on property acquired under the Urban Renewal Title One act by right of eminent domain. The takeover of the private property was justified under the rubric of putting it to a higher use which in this case was a ‘public use.’ Now the BPL is prepared to ‘sell out that heritage for a mess of pottage.’
I was here on Monroe Place just around the corner in 1957 and saw the whole show. The takeover and the rebuilding. Now I am one of those who makes regular use of it, though, truth to tell, Amazon has cut into my need for the library. But it hasn’t cut down on those many people who need access to its computers and who line up patiently to wait their limited time on the machines.
I hope you will very soon focus on this issue because, as the NY Times article noted a few weeks ago, it reflects a too common giving up on the public authority for neighborhood amenities in favor of quick bucks proferred by developers. As you well know, great urban places are not developed for profit alone.
I look forward to hearing that you will take a close look at this very significant issue.