Quoted in the NY Times, Blair Guppy Clarifies Position on Housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park

It’s one thing to be the lead plaintiff in the action against more towers being built in Brooklyn Bridge Park. We can assume that Lori Schomp and Joe Merz knew that they’d be spending some of their time over the next few months defending their position. On the other hand, if you’re just a concerned citizen who signed Schomp’s Change.org petition, you probably weren’t expecting the full snark of some Brooklyn blogs to come your way.

Submitted for your consideration One Brooklyn Bridge Park resident Blair Guppy, who after signing said petition was interviewed by the New York Times for its story on the housing issue in the park.

NYT: Blair Guppy, 40, a Vancouver native and landscape architect who lives in the building with his wife and children, posted his reaction on a Change.org petition sponsored by Save Pier 6: “With the mayor’s new agenda, not only did the current owners of one brooklyn get a bait & switch, but we would probably never have made the purchase had we known there would be 100% subsidized housing immediately next door.”

First, Gothamist set up his quote by saying “then there were the gladiators, who relied on brute arguments rather than any self-awareness.”

Then Brokelyn’s David Colon took the opportunity to weave this web of snark around Mr. Guppy and his opinion:

Brokelyn: Of course, it’s not that these people don’t want to live around poor (well, “poor”) people. Just ask them! The desire for affordable housing to be in “the right way” or in “the best place,” keeps coming up, as is the insistence that the opponents are good liberals who just want things done correctly. The champion of dunderheaded opposition comes from One Brooklyn Bridge Park resident Blair Guppy, who said on a Change.org petition against the buildings that he’d never have bought his expensive new condo if he knew he’d be living near “100% subsidized housing” and then told the Times “By no means am I looking to come across as an elitist. I’m not worried about the influence on property values, but sometimes things need to be looked at.” As of press time, it’s unclear whether Blair Guppy came straight out of central casting or if he wears an ascot.

That last line is only worthy if John Cryer used it in a John Hughes movie about a fictional character, which is probably what motivated Guppy to not only comment on the Brokelyn and Gothamist stories but cross post this response on his own blog. Here’s his full response:

I wish to be clear about my position on the proposed development at Pier 6 adjacent my home at 1 Brooklyn Bridge Park as this ‘piece’, along with mentions in curbed ny and other recent commentary written by the Gothamist, even Ms. Robbin’s ramblings in the NY Times – author of this weekends conversation-igniter – seems more contexomy than journalism. Mr. Colon, in fact, seems rather proud of his abilities to write editorial between “drunk tweets . . . and . . . listening to arguments drift in through [his[ window”.

I am NOT opposed to development at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, nor am I the resident “Gladiator” out to lead the resistance of “dunderheads” (the office reference is lost here) against an “incursion of housing” in our community. A Landscape Architect by profession, I am a designer and lover of Parks and Public Space as part of smart development and urban design. I am also NOT opposed to living within a culturally, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse environment. In fact, this is exactly why I moved to Brooklyn from the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

I AM, however, skeptical of political ambition that flies in the face of due diligence and careful re-examination of a public space that has exceeded anyone’s expectations in its use and popularity. Also of concern to me is the safety and accessibility of all people that live in the neighbourhood and the greater borough. If you’ve been to Pier 6 on a weekend you know exactly how congested chaotic the area can become.

To me there seems to be some lack of transparency around the financial needs of the Parks operational and capital budgets as they related to the potential funding to be garnered from the development at Pier 6. As BBP Corp presentation documents reveal there appears to be a financial deficit that 100% market rate housing at Pier 6 won’t be able to mitigate. To further increase this deficit through lack of contribution would be fiscally irresponsible, wouldn’t it? That is unless there is an astounding outcry from the broader Brooklyn community to open their wallets to ensure this Park remains as enjoyable tomorrow as it is today. According to some sources BBP may actually have a resulting surplus of funds. Somewhere within the ledger is the answer we’d like confirmed. Further, how long might that surplus last and would the City be willing to step in and help cover any future shortfall? I’m certain a equal and opposite reaction to tax-increases would be vocalized by more than the “elite few” at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Is there such a rush to build affordable housing at the sake of renewed assessment of the proposed developments influence on all aspects of the community, including access to public education (another of the mayor’s top priorities)? With any luck there is less so than the apparent urgency of this weekends slanderous ‘commentators’ (“journalists”) to defame my family name.

The very interesting thing about Mr. Guppy’s response is that much of it will ring true with BOTH SIDES of this issue. He also writes quite eloquently about the issue in this blog post as well.

What do you think? Comment away!

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  • stuart

    I thought the NYT piece was an interesting article although it seemed to be a bit overly critical of Brooklyn Heights and its residents. It doesn’t help that the officers at the BHA are so reticent to say anything except “we have always supported housing”
    Well, lets hear more about that. Lets hear how the BHA has championed a new park and has fought the naysayers who wanted to stop the park at any price. Why did those naysayers seem to have the upper hand in the piece? Not responding to their accusations could be one reason. When the NYT of all publications, seems to be castigating your organization for being elitist, it’s time to get some public relations help.

  • johnny cakes

    People are not against the ‘park’ they are against outlandish real estate development on what was supposed to be public land. The BHA didn’t create the problem, the BBP did.

  • Remsen Street Dweller

    Yes, the fabulous NY Times — the paper that printed every word SUNY ever slipped to them. The NY Times did their part, too, to destroy our hospital, LICH.

  • Doug Biviano

    Understand how wedge issues are utilized and by whom in my Press Release –

    It’s Time to Respect the Voters – End Using LICH, Libraries and Building in the Park as Campaign Props

  • Livingston

    Kudos to Mr. Guppy!