Brooklyn Heights Preservationist to Squadron: BPL Is Prepared To Sellout For A Mess Of Pottage

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.

Share this Story:

, , , ,

  • HenryLoL

    What a sad attempt to gain attention. He is a LIAR if he looks people in their faces and says he enjoys that library. It is a horrific place. A new library that is smaller and in a mixed-use facility bringing housing to the area is perfectly fine. And, good housing stock will help that part of CPW be safer and become more alive.

  • David on Middagh

    In trying for a better library, HenryLoL would have us gamble away what we have now. Once it’s gone, all bets are off.

  • stuart

    The mayor is a miserly curmudgeon. He has his staff find the branches that are not landmarked and on the most valuable sites so he can sell them and get lucre to please his insatiable money-hungry heart. He does not care about the ordinary New Yorkers who rely on the libraries, he is just looking at the dollars. Dollars, golden dollars, to caress, to touch, to love. Dollars. The Bloomberg way.

  • Wiley E.

    stuart. Is that really you? Or just a satirical joke.

  • Michael D D White

    The problem is, indeed, too common, in fact, system-wide for NYC libraries. The planned sale and shrinkage of the Brooklyn Heights library is virtually a complete replication of the abrupt and reviled sale-for-shrinkage of the recently renovated Donnell Library in Manhattan (2008) for which NYPL internal documents credit COO David Offensend, who happens to be a Brooklyn Heights resident and former BHA president. We all agree that this has to be fought. It has to be fought and it has to be fought system-wide. Citizens Defending Libraries has a petition (easily signed online although we also collect written signatures, particularly from those without email addresses) and a campaign fighting it. Please sign the petition to get the attention of our elected officials, including Sen. Squadron who is getting back to us about his stance on the selling, shrinking and intentionally underfunding of libraries. The petition is available on our Citizens Defending Libraries web pages. We also have a YouTube Channel with CDL City Council testimony and video of supportive electeds like Steve Levin and Tish James.

  • Andrew Porter

    Yes, I often avoid that stretch of Cadman Plaza West because of the armed gangs of library patrons and IRS employees loitering in front of the next door office tower.

  • Marsha Rimler

    Kudos to Martin Schneider who I believe is a member of the BHA and a former officer.. This must be stopped. People that I speak to are outraged..ENOUGH of the giving public land to developers backed by wall streeters. Go into the library and see the users.. They and we need a public library in a public building.

  • sue

    I just checked the famous Mr. Offensend”s political donations, It looks like he gave the max to Chris Quinn. This is after giving 25,000 to the Brooklyn Public Library.
    Should we then assume that Ms. Quinn if mayor will help him tear down these libraries as he did with the Donnell?

  • Nathan