They are stealing an American view from the millions who visit every year.–Martin Schneider
When Steven Guterman, organizer of the Save The View Now! campaign quoted these words of a Brooklyn Heights preservation activist who couldn’t be present at today’s organizational meeting, they were greeted enthusiastically by a larger than expected audience. In the photo, Mr. Guterman demonstrates to the meeting how he’s “still five feet seven” while standing on a box, to show how an adjustment to the level from which the height of the Pierhouse structure was to be measured resulted in an increase in the structure’s height sufficient to erase the view of the arc of the Brooklyn Bridge from much of the Promenade. He later raised his arms to show how placing the “mechanicals” (air conditioning, elevator machinery, and the like) to the top of the building blocked even more view, as he said, “Look, I’m still five feet seven!”
The meeting began in a small upstairs room at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. As can be seen from the photo, taken about fifteen minutes after the meeting began, many people were crowded into the hall outside the room, trying to listen. About fifteen minutes later, a member of the Synagogue’s staff came in and invited us to adjourn to the Sanctuary. When we got there, the crowd filled many of the pews.
Mr. Guterman led a lively discussion. He said there were two prongs of action needed. The first is to raise a public outcry against the Pierhouse’s view obstruction. Judging by the over 1,000 signatures on the petition he drew up, and the attendance at this afternoon’s meeting, this is well underway. The second prong is legal action to enforce the provisions of the agreement that was made among the Park’s management, its designers, and the Brooklyn Heights Association in 2005, and the Park’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (the height limit provisions were also included in the 2011 Request for Proposals for development of what is now the Pierhouse site, to which Toll Brothers, the developer, responded).
Mr. Guterman also cautioned against “going off on tangents.” He said this group needs to stay focused on the issue of the Pierhouse’s view obstruction, not other legitimate Park-related concerns such as the high-rise buildings proposed at the entrance to Pier Six.
Mr. Guterman outlined four goals for the group, which are also set forth on the petition:
1) Halt construction immediately until an independent review can take place.
2) Verify that no portion of the residential structure that is currently under construction, including any equipment, utilities or substructures, exceed the 55 foot building envelope specified in the above mentioned 2005 and 2011 documents. This is what the community has been told over and over again and does not represent any change.
3) Remove the portion of the hotel structure that exceeds 100 feet to restore the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Promenade. This is a return to the specification laid out in the 2005 and 2011 documents and what the community agreed to.
4) Set up an architectural review process reporting to the community to review any and all modification to plans that occur in order to ensure that future modifications adhere to the above points.
At the close of the meeting, Mr. Guterman invited those attending to volunteer to work in various capacities for the campaign. Many responded to the invitation. Volunteers are sought to work in these specialties: Social Media; Traditional Media; Content Creation; Graphic Arts; Architecture and Engineering; Legal Strategy; Political Outreach; and Local Outreach. If you are interested in helping in any of these areas, please email firstname.lastname@example.org