In response to newly revised plans for affordable housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park, one Brooklyn Heights resident is using her city government experience as well as social media to rally opposition for proposed development at BBP’s Pier 6.
Lori Schomp, who recently left city employment to pursue a masters degree in public health, is leading a grass roots effort to oppose recently announced plans for two tall residential towers in the park, a decision that she and others believe will negatively impact the character of an area prized for it’s open views and ample green space.
Thanks to her petition on Change.org that claims that “parks are for people and plants, not skyscrapers and shadows,” Ms. Schomp has become the reluctant leader of a coalition of concerned citizens who are not only fighting an uphill battle against BBP’s plans but also against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s grand plans to remake the city’s housing market.
“We know there’s a lot of history in the park’s development that’s been controversial,” Ms. Schomp said recently to the BHB, “With the changes to Pier 6 plans [after an agreement expired that would have restricted the heights of these two buildings] we thought it made sense for the community to reassess its options.”
As reported Thursday in the Wall Street Journal, at a public presentation last week to announce BBP’s proposed plan, Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation president Regina Myer said: “We are very interested in having mixed income in the park and having a project more like what Brooklyn looks like in the park.”
In response to Ms. Myer’s suggestion that affordable housing will make the BBP better reflect our borough’s diverse profile, Ms. Schomp said “I think the people who visit the park look like Brooklyn already. Building a skyscraper there is going to allow a very small number of people [who live there] to enjoy the park while impacting the experience of hundreds of thousands of people who visit every year. I don’t know if that’s a good policy trade off.”
The BBP plan is but one example of Mayor de Blasio’s $41 billion housing plan for New York City, a proposal that the mayor hailed as “the most expansive and ambitious affordable housing agenda of its kind in the nation’s history.”
Ms. Schomp is decidedly not cowed by the scale of the challenge ahead. “There’s room for looking at different options here and thinking things through… At the end of the day it’s a public space in the public domain so I think [with] all of our advocacy and our grass roots efforts we should be heard.”
While any housing plan in the park has proven to be a tough sell among local residents, Ms. Schomp—a relative newcomer to this fight who has lived in the Heights for a year—is not opposed to development in BBP, only that it be distributed equally throughout the park.
“There are residences going up on the wealthy part of the park, in front of the Brooklyn Heights promenade, that are going to be five and ten stories,” she explained. “In One Brooklyn Bridge there’s a huge building and now we’re going to have two large residential buildings. It seems like an uneven bargain to have this much housing, this much height, which is not in scale with the southern part of the park.”
The anticipated reward for her Herculean labors? Ms. Schomp hopes to adopt a dog and enjoy walking it in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Photo: Massing study for possible residential tower at Pier 6
Correction: This post has been updated to reflect Lori Schomp’s employment record; this April Ms. Schomp left her job with the City of New York to pursue a degree in public health.