Thursday afternoon at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s offices, a large group of protesters concerned about overbuilding Pier 6 were heard by the BBP decision makers, thanks to a determined stance by John Raskin, NYS Senator Daniel Squadron’s representative to the Park’s board.
The number of activists attending the BBP board meeting was so great, that five officers from the NYPD’s 84th precinct were called in to direct the crowd. Many left when they couldn’t enter the relatively small conference room where the meeting was held.
The issue drawing the unusually large audience — the BBP Community Advisory Council’s (CAC) recent request for a review of the Park’s General Project Plan (GGP) in an effort to stop proposed construction of two large—one 15, the other 30 stories tall—residential towers, including an affordable housing component, at Pier 6.
When BBP President Regina Myer raised the issue of funding for a study to address traffic issues that have plagued the park for years, she casually mentioned a letter that had been sent to her from Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblymember Joan Millman and City Councilmember Stephen Levin.
Squadron, Millman and Levin asked Ms. Myer to bring to her board a resolution that the BBP CAC had adopted last week calling for a review of the Park’s GGP and expedited public hearings about “building envelopes, surrounding plazas and all related design elements of the Pier 6 uplands.”
When Ms. Myer sought to push forward with a vote on only the traffic study — in essence ignoring the politicians’ request as well as the demands of the protesters assembled in the room — Raskin strenuously objected, asking for discussion about the CAC’s concerns.
Stating that “the Community Advisory Council is hardly a radical body,” Mr. Raskin argued that “we should heed their recommendation to do a new review [of the GGP].”
BBP board member Edna Wells-Handy also chimed in, asking for clarification about the letter and what the board was being asked to consider.
Changing gears, meeting chair Alicia Glen sought to close the vote and table discussion on the CAC resolution without a specific promise as to when it would be revisited, but Raskin persisted. In essence holding a motion — seconded by Ms. Wells-Handy — over the objections of his fellow board members and Ms. Myer, Raskin was successful in getting the CAC resolution added to next BBP board meeting in August.
Councilmember Levin, whose district includes Brooklyn Bridge Park, also spoke up in support of the CAC’s resolution, saying, “I think that it is appropriate to consider these items now at this stage of the process [because] if we’re going to be incorporating sound planning principles into the Pier 6 RFP then those [concerns of the CAC] ought to be looked at in this stage of the game, not six months from now.”
Ms. Myer appeared determined to side-step the GGP review entirely. The BBP president stated that she is “very comfortable” moving forward with the existing GPP and dismissed Mr. Raskin and Councilmember Levin concerns about schools and other services, saying these are issues “that we are constantly in contact [about] with other agencies.”
For Lori Schomp, a prime force in getting the community’s attention about Pier 6 massive housing plans, the day’s proceedings were a success because the BBP board appeared receptive to her coalition’s concerns.
“As I was watching the board members while the members of the community were making their statements and asking their questions, I felt that members of the board were sitting back and taking notice,” said Ms. Schomp, who secured a seat directly in front of the BBP board.
Stating that “the information [in the BBP General Project Plan] is outdated,” Schomp was pleased that the BBP board will consider what additional housing will do to Brooklyn Heights. “Brooklyn has changed a lot. However you feel about housing, nobody wants to make decisions based upon bad data.”