Brooklyn Bridge Park Study to Pier 6 Critics: Towers Pose No Problems

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation will release the findings of its impact study regarding new housing at Pier 6 according to Capital. SPOILER ALERT: If you’re against the towers you might just be SOL:

CAP: On Friday, the city-controlled Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation will release a study it commissioned from AKRF, an environmental engineering firm, which finds that although the two new towers will be built several years after an original study was completed, the development’s additional environmental impact will be insignificant.

“After evaluating the potential impacts on 19 distinct environmental categories—including schools, flood resiliency, traffic and open space—and incorporating any relevant updated changes to the project, the environmental regulations and background conditions, the technical memorandum concludes that the Pier 6 uplands project would not have any additional significant impacts,” according to a statement from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

RELATED: Battle Royale at Borough Hall: BBPC Board Shoots Down Pier 6 Opponents

Later in the piece writer Dana Rubenstein sheds some light (or is it shade?) on the opposition to the towers:

“Our answer has and will continue to be that we oppose building unnecessary private residences in what should be park space in perpetuity in a borough that’s the fastest growing in the entire city but with the least amount of park space,” Lori Schomp, of People for Green Space, who lived until recently in a $7.6 million townhouse, told the Brooklyn Heights Blog recently.

And then there’s this nugget:

The study determined that by 2018, even without Pier 6 housing, elementary schools would be at 140.6 percent capacity. With the 430 units, they would be at 144.3 percent, an increase the study deemed insignificant.

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  • gc

    Look no further than the mess down at Pier1 and the already overcrowded conditions at PS8. We are losing our neighborhood to the greed of the real estate developers and their political toadies.

  • Remsen Street Dweller

    That’s exactly why we lost our hospital. Everything else (said by SUNY) is a big fat lie. As the SaveLICH coalition learned, the alliance of real estate plus politics is ruthless. Winners (them) take ALL.

  • StoptheChop

    No traffic impacts? When the plan envisions closing the “mini loop road” and making the “big” loop road one-way heading north, so that EVERY bus (the B63 – -which will have its layover under someone’s OBBP windows, too), truck, car (including from the parking garages), van, taxi, garbage truck, delivery, etc will have to use the “big” loop road running along Piers 5 and 6 and then exit along the north side of OBBP (because there won’t be any way to access Atlantic Avenue anymore) — this won’t affect the Park experience at all, or add to traffic issues at the Joralemon/Furman traffic light, especially when pedestrians stream down the hill on weekends, or during rush hour. Riiight. Just one (and only one) example of knowing that the fix was in! (It’s not enough that the BBPC has given Toll Brothers permission to overbuild PierHouse, or that DUMBO will soon have to suffer a tourist mecca shopping mall– let’s build a highrise right on the waterfront! This is the literal mirror image of the Manhattanites fighting the Howard Hughes Corp highrise at Pier 17….) The contempt that the Mayor (who, as with so much else, broke his campaign pledge to honestly review housing in the Park) and the BBPC have for the communities that advocated for the Park, nurtured its development, and supported it is staggering– and sadly irrelevant, since they are simply determined to have their way and foster more real estate development, regardless of any other considerations. WE ARE SCREWED.

  • Jorale-man

    OK, so the BBP’s in-house study finds the environmental impact is negligible based on certain measurements. But that doesn’t mean that a 30-story skyscraper in a park makes for sound urban planning. The city could put a high-rise in Central Park and it might not affect the local schools or traffic patterns per se. But would you welcome a high-rise on the Sheep Meadow or Great Lawn?

    Also, I noticed that the rendering on the Capital NY website is a little misleading. It shows lush forest land all around the new buildings. Anyone who’s been down there knows it’s mostly concrete, with a row of hedges leading up to Pier 6. Unless they plan major changes it’s not quite the same.

  • Reggie
  • bklyn20

    Guess who pays for the AKRF study? The Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation. Yeah, that’ll be an impartial opinion.

  • Slyone

    Thanks for pointing it out!

    If I’m understanding it correctly, it completely misses the boat as far as school impacts are concerned in
    my opinion. They look at
    the “sub-district” in which the building sits — whatever that is
    precisely, the only way we can get the boundaries is by specific request
    to some agency. But whatever it is exactly, it is so big that it serves 3,279
    elementary school students now — i.e., WAY more than PS8 — and the
    schools altogether in that sub-district are operating at 98.14% capacity (i.e., again, it’s not just
    PS8). In 2018, all schools in that sub-district will be at 140ish%,
    and with the 430 Pier 6 units, that goes up to 144%, because the
    increase is spread over such a broad geographic area (and so many kids in so many elementary schools!). They say that, because it’s
    under a 5% increase, it’s not significant under the CEQR standards.

    I haven’t done enough research yet to know if this is the way things are done under CEQR; regardless, though, it’s a crazy way to analyze the impact of a new development on the local public school.

  • Slyone

    Two things: It looks like CQER Technical Manual requires a map of the
    sub-district, with the elementary schools shown: “The locations of the
    elementary and intermediate schools should be shown on a map of the
    school district, with the sub-district study area delineated on the map.
    A scale bar should be provided on the map. If necessary, a separate map
    for elementary schools should be provided.” That’s not in the
    technical memorandum.

    I went back to the 2005 FEIS, and it does
    have a map of the District 13 as a whole, and lists 7 schools in “region” (I suppose now this is the
    sub-district, though it’s not explicitly stated): PS8, PS287, PS307,
    PS46, PS11, PS20, PS67. The new technical memorandum actually says
    there are 8 schools in the “sub-district” so I’m guessing there’s one
    more now . . . in any event, this is the scale at which they are
    measuring the impact of the Pier 6 on local elementary schools.

  • Strauss

    There’s the old business story about the manager who builds an entire manufacturing plant without ever needing corporate approval, by ordering the building one inexpensive component at a time.
    So the logic of the study is this: by itself, do these towers cause any thresholds to be crossed that would require further analysis. And their answer was no. Example: there are only an additional 36 cars per peak hour per intersection, which is below the 50 cars per peak hour that requires further analysis. There’s an oddity about that. You could do X things, each of which is below the threshold, but in combination they are above the threshold. If you study them one by one, then there is no need for review, but if you study them all together, then there is a need for further review. If you’re worried about the school overcrowding, well, too bad, because each project being approved, when considered in isolation, isn’t material to the problem, though in the aggregate of course it is material.
    If anybody wants to keep fighting this development (notwithstanding the truism that you can’t fight city hall), I’d suggest the following approach: go back to the original study, and see if there are items that would have required further analysis AT THAT TIME given what we currently know. For example, the auto traffic with 36 additional cars might not require further analysis by itself, but if we have X cars more now than what was anticipated, then perhaps 36+X cars require further analysis.
    I think that was the point of asking for this revised study, a point that was largely ignored.

  • d13parent

    interesting but i’m not sure if it’s the wrong analysis. school zoning is not set in stone and the underlying principle is that the government can and should rezone in order to realign school catchments with building capacities. the analysis is neutral to the real estate value, “school quality” and segregation issues that rezoning raises. those are political issues — as they should be — not issues with overall public school capacity.

    i would be interested to see analyses by the PTA or DoBro schools that show how many families in that include in their projections the “choice” school options (133, Arts & Letters, D15 schools, charters) and citywide G&Ts. Brooklyn Prospect charter probably is not a close substitute for PS 8 but it’s filled with rich kids.

  • Doug Biviano

    Council Member Levin should call for a moratorium of development projects at both Pier 6 and the Brooklyn Heights Public Library until the PS8 overcrowding issues are resolved. No need to rush into irreversible situation. If Levin is genuinely opposed to the towers in the Park as he loves to bring up, well here’s his chance to really be heard.

  • Slyone

    You’re absolutely right that school zoning is not set in stone, but don’t you think the fact that a new development will necessitate a new school and/or a rezoning should be explicitly part of the discussion as that development is being approved? I think there are many great schools in D13; looking at the map in the 2005 FEIS, it is somewhat worth noting that the schools really skew east in the District; PS8 is sort of an outlier geographically on the western edge of D13. You are right that we have seen and may see more charters filling the void. Maybe that’s ok — I think many that more charters are the way to go. Again, though, don’t you think it should be an explicit part of the discussion when the new development is approved?

    On your second point, the “choice” options were incorporated into the PTA presentation as, basically, a downward arrow, something that reduced the number of “new public elementary school students” introduced into the zone by new development that would be attending PS8. They are countered in a qualitative way in the presentation by the upward arrow of increasing popularity of the school in its zone and the uncertainty of things that may not be incorporated into the Brooklyn public school ratio of .29 public elementary school kids per new residential unit. I think it’s an unknown, and will probably vary depending on the DOE’s response. To the extent the DOE doesn’t address the situation and allows all classrooms in the building (including what would otherwise be art or music rooms) to be filled to 32 kids, I think you’ll see more families looking more to whatever “choice” options they have, as well as some families being forced into those options once there is literally no more space for children in PS8 classrooms.

  • johnny cakes

    Check out a news report about AKRF. They seem to act like dirty ducks.

  • jc

    why not build a school at pier 6 instead of condos? the park doesn’t need the money anymore and they’ve put up so much development without building any schools. battery park city has the same model and they built 3 schools. shouldn’t we build at least one school here to absorb some of the kids living in the park?

  • StoptheChop

    he can try– but deBlasio is totally refusing to engage with other elected officials AT ALL.

  • StoptheChop

    yes–per recommendations from Sam Schwartz (another result-oriented study that BBPC commissioned), they want to shut down the “mini” loop road to “integrate” the skyscrapers into the Park, and then have the “big” loop road run one way north– but somehow that won’t create any adverse traffic impacts along Piers 5 & 6 and around the buildings themselves (no loading zones for the new buildings, by the way, and the B63 bus would then have to travel along piers 5/6, around OBBP and wait at the Joralemon/Furman traffic light to turn right before being able to join Atlantic Avenue– ie ALL traffic– car, bus, truck, van, taxi, marina-related traffic, etc etc — would have to travel along the loop road to the Joralemon/Furman intersection once it entered the Park from Atlantic Ave). What a way to enhance to park experience….

  • d13parent

    Thanks. Do you think rezoning should have been done earlier? Do you think that it would have been more politically viable while there was still space in PS 8 than it is today or will be tomorrow?
    On my second point, I meant that I would like to see those numbers quantified not just represented as qualitative arrows. The DOE has quantified in-zone retention rates that the school could probably obtain (specific to the school, not Brooklyn or the District), and the DOE can probably also identify students zoned for 8 attending other public schools.
    Part of my point was that the DOE has no choice but to pay for charter schools to rent space wherever the charters rent space. The charters have made clear they are targeting downtown Brooklyn, and given limited dollars it makes fiscal sense to plan for this. This would be especially true to the extent that Downtown Brooklyn, PS 307 and PS 287 also have to be a part of the discussion.
    Last, not that anyone wishes this on PS 8 students, but there are lots of schools where the DOE has forced the conversion of art and music rooms to classrooms, and forced class sizes to be filled to 32. There’s a lot that goes into it, but when families continue to choose schools with class sizes of 30 and up when there are schools nearby with plenty of cluster rooms and class sizes of 20, it’s not all that surprising that the DOE has not yet been moved to action.
    If there were infinite money, of course, then by all means the DOE should accommodate. But there are other priorities in the District, and I am not sure those of us with interest in some of those other priorities would agree that keeping PS 8’s class sizes lower than our own, and making sure PS 8 keeps its cluster rooms when we’ve already lost ours, should trump the rest.

  • DoBro84

    I read the full study report last night and it was comprehensive and convincing. I’m waiting to hear what the “visiting lawyer” has to say.

  • martin hale

    Those against the towers are only SOL if people don’t act. It is no surprise that the Park rejected the need for a supplemental EIS … they underwrote an arbitrary, self-serving, and capricious study comparing Brooklyn Heights school overcrowding and traffic *today* to future overcrowding with Pier 6. However, the proper way to judge the need for a supplemental EIS is to weigh current conditions to those in the *original* EIS from 2005 (which projected school capacity at 60% vs. 140% today). The community needs the help of a good environmental lawyer and the BHA, which should take a stronger stand. If anyone is able to help, please visit Thank you.

  • DoBro84

    Contrary to what Mr. Hale claims the study methodology clearly follows existing law.

    The CEQR Technical Manual, March 2014 Edition, page 2-3 states:


    Once the project has been defined, its effects on its environmental setting may be considered. Regardless of the documentation required (EAS or EIS), the technical area being assessed, or the complexity of the analysis, the assessment is conducted under a three-part framework, set forth below. It should be noted that if the initial analysis indicates there is no potential for significant adverse impacts in a particular technical area, then only documentation of that finding–and no further analysis–is required for that technical area. For each technical area in which the potential for significant adverse impacts exists, the assessment includes:

    *** A description of existing conditions;

    *** A prediction of the future without the project for the year that it would be completed and operational (No-Action condition); and

    *** A prediction of the future with the project for the year it would be completed and operational (With-Action condition).

    Comparing the two future scenarios identifies the project’s impacts on its environmental setting. For each technical area being assessed, this same framework is used.”

  • ml77

    I upvoted this comment because you proposed a solution instead of just complaining about the problem. I’d like to see more commenters here proposing solutions other than not building on Pier 6. This city desperately needs more housing, particularly the affordable housing that the Mayor has added to the plan. Just saying no is not an adequate response.

  • Numerate

    Well the technical memorandum (posted here: totally screws up the PS 8 numbers.

    According to the overcrowding report from last Thursday ( there are 703 students attending in 2014-2015 for 142% enrollment. The newly released EIP from BBPC estimates 124 new elementary students from Pier 6 development, all of whom would go to PS 8 presumably. So, 124/703 = 17% increase in enrollment NOT a 3.74% increase.

    Not to developers– if you are going to fudge the numbers be a little smarter about it. This is a flagrantly terrible analysis.

  • DoBro84

    I don’t agree…you need to take another look at the technical memorandum. According to the CEQR the basis for analysis is sub district 2 of CDC 13. The 2013-14 school year data show 8 elementary schools with 3,279 students and 7 intermediate schools with 1,849 students.

  • Solovely

    Affordable housing and park space are both important public policy objectives! Indeed, parks are important to community health and health promotion… and prevention of many non communicable diseases.. this park is used by everyone in the entire Brooklyn borough and beyond! At pier 6, the site will be 70% luxury housing… taking away public park space for generations from everyone… don’t let the vested real estate interests who want to make money off at building at Pier 6… dictate what’s in the public interest… by throwing a carrot stick… we believe the park is already paid for… wouldn’t a children’s vegetable garden be great? or yes! a school!

    Personally, I would love to volunteer to help create something like this…

  • nicky

    and councilman Levin does not ask for a moratorium .. he is in the devlopers pocket

  • nicky

    we need a new school. think school instead of condos on libray site

  • nicky

    yes Doug you are correct

  • nicky

    the library site is more centrally located for a school and it can absorb the downtown growth as well

  • Doug Biviano

    All these options for school overcrowding should be pursued diligently before these at the moment public parcels are sold off to private developers to exacerbate the problem.

    When the BBP Conservancy and Dev Corp say they can’t, well we must respnd unequivocally that we can’t fit 1,100 children in PS8 and forego preK any further.

    But because of a greater community that will not say boo about the overbuilding, condos where they don’t belong and the polticians who force feed us this unsustainable policy that has fuel thrown on the fire in the form of tax payer subsidized tax abatement incentives for developers, the harm to our community will continue.

  • Slyone

    I am saying that if rezoning perhaps alongside a new school would need to be on the table because of these buildings, it’s hard to argue they don’t have a significant impact on schools. My understanding is that finding a significant impact doesn’t mean the buildings can’t happen, it just means a little more process, and — I would hope — more discussion about those impacts before they occur.