Martin Schneider Takes Times To Task For Lack Of Pierhouse Coverage

Brooklyn Heights resident and historic preservation activist Martin Schneider has shared with us the following letter he wrote to the New York Times City Editor concerning the controversy over the Pierhouse structure’s blocking views of the Brooklyn Bridge:

To the City Editor:​​

The bloated building now underway in the Brooklyn Bridge Park at Furman and Fulton Streets has received meager attention so far from the Times. Yet, it is a distressing and even outrageous fact that the building is seriously compromising world-famous views from one of the most heavily visited sites in the city. Late though it is, the problem is still salvageable and the courts are being looked to for a remedy which will be costly to the developers and to the reputation of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation which is supposed to look after the public interest.

The Park Corporation is dominated and seemingly controlled by Mayoral appointments. And, in the face of agreements dating back to 2005 and 2006, the Corporation presses forward flagrantly abrogating them.

In a recent court hearing the Corporation, the City and the Developers all claimed that the public was informed step by step along the way. But, persons who attended the earlier meetings testify otherwise saying that their repeated requests for detailed structural information were never answered. In addition, the building’s backers promoted misleading graphic views of the proposed buildings and met reasonable questions with evasive and obfuscatory responses time and again.

Underlying the community’s current frustration and extreme despair—which is shared by the views’ widespread stake holders—is the fact that in 2005, the need for protecting the view was fully laid out in hearings at the time by Otis Pearsall. Then, Pearsall and the watchful community which was most immediately affected, were assured that these protective understandings would be accepted and enforced. They have now be ignored with devastating results to all who love the Brooklyn Bridge, and its incomparable beauty and its window into our City’s great history.

Late as it is, there is still time for the NY Times to take a hard look at this potentially permanent destruction of one of the greatest views in New York and save this incomparable vista.

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  • Jorale-man

    Well argued and reasoned. I hope it falls on a sympathetic editor’s ears. The Times has been aggressive in its coverage of the Frick Collection’s proposed addition recently, which arguably had a far smaller impact on its surroundings than the Pierhouse does. It seems like this deserves more than the token follow-up story that the Times has doing been doing so far.

    Mr. Schneider might also wish to try WNYC Radio, the NY Observer or NY Magazine (their architecture critic is Justin Davidson). They all hold positions of influence in this city and can at least bring attention to the issue.

  • stuart

    “late as it is” and “late though it is” are the two most telling phrases in the narrative. Sorry, you are about five years late to have any effect on what was built on the old cold storage warehouse site.

  • Roberto Gautier

    Throughout the struggle against the alliance of developers, architects, contractors and political allies who push hard for hyper development, the deadening feeling of being crushed reminds me of resistors who suffer under totalitarian regimes.

  • guest

    Yes. Exactly. Roberto Gautier. You totally nailed it. Trying to get positive news coverage about the controversy surrounding the bulkhead of the Pierhouse blocking a portion of the view of the cables of the Brooklyn Bridge from certain vantage points from the promenade is EXACTLY like being crushed after resisting Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Mussolini, Sadam, and Boko Haram. That is a perfect analogy. I don’t even know what those refugees in Syria are even complaining about. It’s not like they had a portion of the view a bridge blocked ( a bridge that they could see perfectly well if they just went down to the new $400 million park that was built right on their doorstep). They know nothing about pain and injustice.

  • Remsen Street Dweller

    Despite your snide sarcasm, our neighborhoods are being destroyed by out-of-control real estate and their political alliances. Doesn’t matter what the community needs or tries to accomplish — corruption rules. The politician even dictate court rulings.

    Don’t forget, we lost Long Island College Hospital to the same forces.

    The people have lost their voice — what’s next?

  • Andrew Porter

    It ain’t necessarily so, according to this article in today’s Curbed, which relates how a developer finally removed something. Though, alas, it took several years to get it done:

  • Willow Street Watch

    First of all, all this is ironic: the “preservation movement” are the basic factor which caused the BBP project when they rolled over a dozen years ago and allowed the project to go forward.

    Yes, that’s exactly what happened…a group of sixty and seventy year old blue hairs from the upper casino circles signed off even when Numerous wiser voices warned of the very serious damage whuld result.

    Now what? “Leading preservationalists” have a quibble with the Times coverage? Amazing……!

    But second, all this is nonsense because none of the ” community advocates” are doing even one of the three “J” points/actions which in community after community under attack has repulsed preditory forces.
    1) none of you are taking this matter properly into federal court 2) none of your is offering “financial incentives” for evidence of criminal wrong- doing and 3) you are not properly seeking Any kind of ballot initiative. If you are not doing any of that, get ready to live in the former Brooklyn Heights. Which the wonderful “preservationists” have already signed off on….

  • stuart

    I agree, the neighborhood elders signed off on the project years ago. Now there are second thoughts but it’s too late. You can’t go back on the deal.

  • Willow Street Watch

    But you can interrupt the active circuit by the three avenues I mentioned above…so ask yourself WHY is it that all the “community leaders/ representatives” involved have carefully avoided any of these devices
    When they have worked so well in other town and cities under attack?

    Could it be we trusted the wrong guys? Hmmm-

  • DIBS

    Ummmm, it’s a park, Roberto

  • Jorale-man

    AM New York (the subway newspaper) also has a front-page story on the blocked views today:

  • gatornyc

    Please stop with the plea for taking this and other matters to federal court. There is simply no federal jurisdiction regarding this or the Pier 6 dispute. And you unfairly impugn our State courts. We have many excellent judges who are just as equipped to handle the disputes as a federal judge.

  • ws gilbert

    It’s a park in Brooklyn, DIBS, not Bucks County! Why don’t you worry about the Delawere and Raritan Canal.

  • ws gilbert

    What real-estate developer do you work for, “guest” and how much are you paid to insert your comments into a neighborhood blog?

  • Willow Street Watch

    You missed the fine point of my observation: we should be examining the situation in order to find is their any basis for either civil or criminal
    Federal legal action. After years of business litigation and approaching prosecutors I know the often Vast difference between the on the street effect of federal verses state court action. After what I’ve personally seen in NY city and state courts, I don’t need to do anything but read what is countlessly in the law journal. I don’t know about anyone else but I want what is best for my community, and in the legal arena In my long experience, that means the federal bench wherever possible.

    But the two other J list avenues for action, ballot iniatives and public rewards for evidence of wrongdoing should be examined. Why? Be- cause it providres the best protection for my community.

  • Reggie

    Apples and oranges.

  • Reggie

    People who work for developers have real work to do and don’t post comments to blogs.

  • guest

    How much is Steve Guterman paying you to go online and accuse all dissenters of working for real estate developers? One need not work for a developer in order to find the comparison of the Pierhouse bulkhead to living under totalitarian regimes utterly ridiculous and downright insulting.

  • Michael D. D. White

    Similarly all the media should take interest and gear up to report that Wednesday, here in this neighborhood, there will be the city’s FIRST EVER public hearing about selling and shrinking a NYC library, a very important one at that. The library will be sold and vastly shrunk so that a luxury tower (still undesigned or sized) can replace it at this prime Downtown location at the edge of fashionable, historic Brooklyn Heights.

    This is a key opportunity to show up, one that’s NOT always afforded to the public. . .

    . . . No such hearings were required when the Donnell Library was suddenly and secretively sold off because, in that case, the library, not the city, owned the land. The proposed sell-off of this Downtown Brooklyn Library is closely modeled on, almost identical to, the sale of Donnell Library. Similarly, such a hearing isn’t required for the sale of another major destination library, SIBL, Science, Industry and Business Library at 34th Street.


    Brooklyn Community Board 2 Land Use Committee June 17, 2015: ULURP Hearing- First Hearing About Whether To Sell & Shrink Downtowns’s Brooklyn Heights Library (Tillary & Clinton)

    See also: Our Testimony and Report on City Council Hearing On Budget For NYC Libraries Held Monday, June 8, 2015 and Tuesday, June 9, 2015