The New York Times has posted an in-depth look at the recent opposition to housing – notably the “affordable” kind – at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6. After the city added an affordable housing component to the park’s long standing housing plan, a neighborhood group including long time Willowtown resident Joe Merz and lead by newcomer Lori Schomp mobilized this year to at least slow down the process. They succeeded in getting a TRO against the current plan moving forward.
The Times piece sheds some light on who Ms. Schomp and her position:
Lori Schomp, 33, the lead plaintiff in the Brooklyn Bridge Park case, moved into the neighborhood in 2013 with her boyfriend, Martin Hale. Mr. Hale purchased a $7.6 million townhouse on Willow Place through a limited liability company, records show; he is the chairman of People for Green Space.
The home that Hale/Schomp purchased was designed by Joe and Mary Merz fifty years ago. Mr. Merz is the co-plaintiff in the suit against the park.
The Times piece continues:
They make an odd couple of litigants — Ms. Schomp, who wants her view of the water on her frequent runs preserved, and Mr. Merz, who lectures softly on social theory, insisting on separating parkland from development.
“There will be those maybe pointing at us, saying, ‘Aha, you don’t want low-income housing,’ ” Mr. Merz said from his sunken living room overlooking a Zen garden.
He and his late wife developed senior housing in Buffalo, he said, and served as conservationists for Prospect Park.
“That’s an old game because you know very well we do prefer low-income housing,” Mr. Merz continued. “But we don’t want it in the wrong place, meaning there’s a right way to build it.”
Ms. Schomp added: “It has a higher calling as a park than as a place for a few people to live.”
Nina Lorenz Collins has lived in Brooklyn Heights longer than Ms. Schomp and presents a different view of the argument:
“It felt very Nimby, like ‘We don’t want poor people in the backyard,’ ” she said recently.
“After two months of those comments, I sent out an email to everyone. I said, ‘You are making me ashamed to be your neighbor, please stop.’ ”
In a BHB poll posted when the TRO was issued, 83% of respondents sided with Ms. Schomp’s position.
For some reason, this lyric from Pulp’s classic 90s nugget keeps repeating in our head as this battle rages on:
Laugh along with the common people
Laugh along although they’re laughing at you
and the stupid things that you do
because you think that poor is cool
Like a dog lying in a corner
they will bite you and never warn you
they’ll tear your insides out
‘cos everybody hates a tourist
especially one who thinks
it’s all such a laugh