Housing at Pier 6 Dominates Lively Brooklyn Bridge Park Board Meeting

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.”

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  • Solovely

    The CAC motion’s call to review the GPP would include a review of the project’s environmental impact statement (EIS)– and updating the planning that is now based on data in this document that’s approaching 10 years old… for example

    **Park visitor projections**
    Park visitors were projected in 2005 to be 27,000 visitors on a Sunday, and 68% of that on a Saturday (45,360 total). In 2014, the Park management themselves had said that Park welcomes 60,000 visitors per weekend (32% above projections) and Pierhouse condos… and this new proposed condos don’t have people living there yet.. its only going to get more popular/more crowded. It’s a beautiful park!

    Also, the EIS states, “The proposed project (all housing) would introduce 1,210 to 1,240 market-rate housing units to Region 2 Community School District 13… lower end of this range would introduce an estimated 327 elementary and 121 intermediate school students into this region by 2012. Elementary schools in CSD 13 as a whole would operate at 70% capacity in 2012, with 4,525 available seats and a total enrollment of 10,290. Although there would be slightly more students associated with the upper end of the range of residential units, there would remain sufficient number of available seats in the elementary schools…[and so on] therefore, increased enrollment attributable to the Proposed Project is not expected to result in significant adverse impacts to public intermediate schools.”

    Can anyone else contribute, 2014? public school capacity? The EIS also projected that Brooklyn’s population would grow at 0.5% per year..

  • District 13 parent

    The capacity in District 13 as a whole is not relevant, as the district extents to parts of Park Slope, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Bed-Stuy. We know from experience that most families would prefer to send their children to school closer to home. This is similar to the issues with downtown overcapacity in the schools in District 2: where parents are not willing to send their elementary school children to schools that may be miles away from their homes, even if still in district.

  • JayBee

    The “Save Pier 6″ campaign is not really about the height of the proposed buildings. It is about who will be living in them – “affordable housing”. Come clean, elitists

  • PS8 parent and OBBP resident

    The EIS is totally out of date as anyone living in the area knows. How the school regions/districts work had totally changed over the last few years – there is much less flexibility in choosing an elementary school, compared to 10 years ago.

    As aparent of a PS8 2nd grader (PS8 would be the ‘zoned’ school for buildings in BBP under current zoning) I can assure you that the PS8 not only overcrowded, but its facilities are incredibly old and limited. On recent 3-5 grade state testing days, my son’s classroom was among the many used for testing, so his class went for ‘walks’ on 2 days (not to BBP – doesn’t seem to be much outreachby BBP with its neighborhood public school) and watched “Frozen” (the Disney movie) the day it rained.
    It should also be noted that PS8 is probably one of the best elementary schools in District 13, due to the efforts of the Principal and staff, who have turned a failing school 10 years ago (at the time of the EIS) with many zoned parents looking elsewhere, into an excellent, thriving, popular and hence overcrowded school. Many parents living in the zone would be extremely reluctant to send their child to other schools in the district for a multitude of reasons – and why should we? My family made a choice to live in Brooklyn Heights in part because of PS8.

    I am of the opinion that one of the pier 6 sites would be better
    used to build a …………….school (radical idea I know) preK-8, modern building, modern facilities, great environment for the kids, something that is really needed in BH and district 13.

    Talking about visitor projections – parking and traffic are major issues that were not contemplated fully and will only get worse without a major re-think and careful consideration. There is little or no policing on the weekend, traffic backs up Atlantic Ave and Furman Street is one long line of traffic, to get into the one
    parking garage in the park – which is away full. The sound of car horns and ice-cream/fro-yo truck bells are a real problem every weekend. It is abeautiful park, but it won’t stay that way unless some of these issues are addressed.

  • Jorale-man

    It’s good to see some opposition to the park’s plans for this skyscraper. They’ve managed to build the condos around Pier 1 with practically no push-back. It’s time to step back and ask what the purpose of a park should be if it merely contributes to strained infrastructure, overcrowded subways, noncontextual architecture and even greater crowding in the park it supposedly funds.

    Who knows if the skyscraper opponents have a shot but one would hope there’s at least a compromise solution that can be forged.

  • HicksOnHicks

    Regina Myer is like Robert Moses, but without the charm.

  • word of mouth

    These elitist folks moving into Brooklyn come across as open minded folks…a few years down the line they’re protesting the rents the landlords are charging…then they begin owning townhomes and will never rent to natives

  • HicksOnHicks

    I wonder if those that blame opposition to the 30+ story tower in the Pier 6 uplands to “elitism” have even been to Pier 6. It just doesn’t make sense to build a tower twice the height of 360 Furman at the end of Pier 6 to cast a huge shadow across the park and neighborhood while blocking the views for park goers.

    If you really want to build an enormous tower that’s out of character in the neighborhood to benefit affordable housing, wouldn’t it make more sense to build that tower without affordable housing and take the proceeds not needed for park maintenance and build affordable housing where you could benefit even more families. I’m sure if the tower, that is basically sitting in the middle of the East River, was designed “for elitists” you could generate tons of $$$ for affordable housing in a more sensible locale.

    My point is that there is basically nothing in De Blasio & Myer’s plan that makes sense.

  • Karl Junkersfeld


    The link below from the NYTimes is excellent with regards to “inclusionary zoning”. I agree that the enormous subsidy for each affordable housing component makes no sense at all.