5 Key Points Made at the Brooklyn Heights Association’s 2015 Annual Meeting

We went, we tweeted, we went home and posted this while warming up a nice packaged Fresh Direct meal. Yes, we’re living the dream here at BHB. But there were other “reporters” at the group’s annual confab and here are 5 key points or, as we believe is the vernacular, “takeaways”:

1) Judy Stanton is Awesome:

“No one can replace Judy Stanton,” said the group’s president, Alexandra Bowie, as she presented Stanton with a commemorative trophy. “She has an encyclopedic knowledge of our organization and the determined energy to get things done.” (Brooklyn Paper)

And Tom Stewart (who, btw, has still never given us a channel 13 totebag) was verklempt:

Noting that Stanton was listed as one of the “50 most influential people who have shaped Brooklyn neighborhoods” by Brownstoner.com, called “the godmother of P.S. 8” by Principal Seth Phillips and named “the mayor of Brooklyn Heights” by former borough president Marty Markowitz, Stewart had tears in his eyes as he presented Stanton with a special engraved vase honoring her service. (Brooklyn Eagle)

2. Not for Nothin’ But Those Pier 6 Towers Are Not a Great Idea

Bowie lauded Brooklyn Bridge Park, and said BHA has always recognized the necessity of housing there. “But we have always argued that only housing necessary to support the park should be built. At this moment, we are not convinced that housing is needed on Pier 6.

“Mayor de Blasio, Pier 6 is one of those places where skyscrapers do not belong,” she said. (Brooklyn Eagle)

3. Oh and the Pierhouse Ain’t So Great Either

BHA believes the buildings going up at Pier 1 are “larger than they should be, and that their height contravenes agreements that were made in the community many years ago.” (Brooklyn Eagle)

4. Say What You Will About Michael D.D. White and Citizens Defending Libraries, but Brother Has a Point

Michael D. D. White, co-founder of Citizens Defending Libraries, questioned what he called BHA’s “highly suspicious” and rapid support of the decision to redevelop the Brooklyn Heights Library branch.

“What will it take for you to reconsider your support to sell and shrink the library?” he asked.

“I will take that up with our library committee, which is how we operate, and if the library committee feels that it wants to revisit the question, then I will take it to the full board,” Bowie said. (Brooklyn Eagle)

5. We Want to Hang Out with Justin Davidson, Like David Blaine, His Magic is Real

To see what preservationists have achieved, “just look around,” he said. There is “a deep and widespread acknowledgement that the new city is intertwined with the old one. On a philosophical level, preservationists have won.”

Justin Davidson, New York magazine architecture and classical music critic. Photo by Mary FrostJustin Davidson, New York magazine architecture and classical music critic. Photo by Mary FrostBut preservation can sometimes “denature” a neighborhood, he warned. “If you turn a working class district into a historic district, it is unlikely to remain working class. You cannot preserve a living thing.” (Brooklyn Eagle)

Bonus: Claude Might Be a Hippie

Claude Scales, a reporter with the Brooklyn Heights Blog, asked Davidson if there would ever again be a true Bohemian neighborhood in New York City, as Greenwich Village once was.

Davidson theorized that Bohemias of the future might be dispersed “mini-Bohemias” – sometimes as big as one apartment. He also opined that the dispersal of young people to other cities like Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Boise and Salt Lake City “is a really good thing.” (Brooklyn Eagle)

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  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com ClaudeScales

    “[M]ight be”?

  • BrooklynBugle


  • Peter

    I would like to see stats on young people leaving NYC. I know quite a few who have been fleeing the prices, 96 story condos, crowding. I have heard Beacon, NY jocularly referred to as “upstate Brooklyn”.

  • Michael D. D. White

    Although Ms. Bowie said the BHA is supporting the library plan
    because three conditions are purportedly being met, those three
    conditions are NOT being met. Reviewing the conditions more
    specifically in order:

    1.) “That the proceeds go back to Brooklyn
    Public Library”- The money from the sale actually goes to the City and
    there is no assurance that it would every be returned to the BPL in any
    way. The only obligation to do so would be a moral one, and since the
    city’s current unprecedentedly low funding of the libraries is already
    at an immorally low level there is no assurance such moral suasion would
    work. Quite the contrary, since the current low funding levels go back
    to the introduction of plans for low funding to justify such
    self-cannibalizing funding schemes, if low funding successfully leads
    to the sales that real estate industry is salivating for, there will
    actually be a strong inducement to continue such low funding levels into
    the future to provoke more sales. – Furthermore, the net sale proceeds
    to be obtained are so very minimal as to be virtually meaningless.
    That’s one reason the BPL has to shrink the library and also why the BPL
    is giving an overstated figure for the net proceeds that will result-
    If the Donnell Library had been replaced at full scale the NYPL would
    have lost money on its sale, and much the same situation pertains here.

    “That interim service was provided”- The current library is a central
    destination library, 63,000 square feet in all. The “interim” library
    with great attendant disruption will be a mere 8,000 square feet. The
    same night of the BHA meeting Linda Johnson told her BPL trustees that
    once you drive patronage away with a lack of books it takes a long time
    for patronage levels to get back to normal after resources are restored.
    (Donnell will be closed for about eight years or more total. )

    “That the new library be of `adequate’ size”- Right off the bat, right
    after the sale was announced, the BHA agreed not only to the sale of
    the library but also to the size down to which it could be shrunk. The
    BHA agreed to the shrinkage without a new library ever being designed.
    Is that the way to do it? Shrink first, bless the shrunken size as
    adequate, and THEN design?. .

    . . . The proposed replacement for
    the Brooklyn Heights Library, this central destination library, is
    planned to be only 21,000 square feet (of which only 15,000 will be
    above ground) vs. the existing 63,000 square feet. The Sunset Park
    library which the BPL says is too small (it’s in a low density
    neighborhood served only by the R Train) is now proposed to be enlarged
    to 20,600 square feet, essentially the same size and the community’s
    representatives are negotiating hard to make it even larger than that.
    Citizens Defending Libraries certainly wants to see that neighborhood’s
    negotiations go well, but Brooklyn Heights thanks to the BHA might wind
    up with the smaller library.

    Further, the Business and Career
    functions integrated into the library and neighborhood would be banished
    and books will be exiled. When the proposed sale was announced in
    2013, Judy Stanton said firmly that the Business and Career library
    should NOT be removed from Downtown Brooklyn. . and then she apparently
    quickly got countermanding instructions from the BHA board.

    thing to notice about this annual meeting. Ms. Bowie and the BHA used
    to quibble, asserting that instead of supporting the sale and shrinkage
    of our community’s library, the BHA just wasn’t opposing it. A
    distinction without a difference? At this meeting with no such mincing
    of words. It was clear: The BHA under Ms. Bowie’s leadership wasn’t
    just condoning the sale and shrinkage they were SUPPORTING it. And that
    is against the community’s interest.

    We at Citizens Defending
    Libraries sincerely hope the BHA, starting perhaps with its library
    committee as indicated by Ms. Bowie, will reconsider the decision made
    with such odd haste in the early winter of 2013.

  • Michael D. D. White

    Here is the link for what Citizens Defending Libraries distributed at the meeting: Public Assets Under Attack- Prepared For Handout at February 24, 2015 Brooklyn Heights Association Annual Meeting.


  • ujh

    Was the b-and-w photo used by Davidson during his presentation? If so, what were his comments? The man (in black?) on the left resembles Mussolini, in my humble opinion.

  • Ramoina

    Might want to check out the Boycott of FreshDirect to stop them getting like $200 million to bring diesel trucks to the asthma South Bronx waterfront, not fair, not sensible use of our money either.

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com ClaudeScales

    Ain’t the Dead without Jerry. Heck, some people would say it wasn’t the Dead without Pigpen.

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com ClaudeScales

    It is Mussolini. Part of Davidson’s talk was about the story of historic preservation in Rome. Mussolini loved the Roman Empire ruins, but demolished many later but historic buildings to create broad boulevards and modernist buildings.

  • jazz

    boring boring boring boring

  • Andrew Porter

    Lots of stuff about relatively cheaper housing upstate on either side of the Hudson in the Upstater edition of


    Of course, upstate you have to own something called an “automobile”, which adds thousands a year to your living expenses. Pass. Then there’s Detroit…

  • Andrew Porter

    Mussolini was the Napoleon of his generation; Napoleon did much the same thing in Paris. Fortunately, Washington, D.C., Brasilia, and Canberra, Australia, were actually designed that way!

  • Andrew Porter

    But Amazon is now delivering food into brownstone Brooklyn, using the same sort of smelly delivery trucks. But no drones.