Squadron Announces Park Plan

daniel_squadronState Senator Daniel Squadron described his plans for design and financing of Brooklyn Bridge Park this evening at Borough Hall. He will host another meeting on the same subject on Sunday, April 5. With regard to design, he stressed that he does not want any housing built on Park land other than the existing 360 Furman Street condo conversion and the combined hotel/residential building slated to be adjacent to Pier One. Plans for use of Park land, he said, should include active year-round recreational facilities, including a “bubble” on at least one pier enclosing such uses as, for example, basketball and tennis courts, as well as a permanent on-shore or floating pool, and an ice rink that might also be usable as a roller skating rink in the warm months. He also said a water taxi dock is essential, and suggested that a proposed middle school could occupy part of 360 Furman. Although Squadron didn’t mention it, this would eliminate the need to put the school in the proposed Dock Street high rise building.

His plan for financing park construction and maintenance is to provide funds from additional property tax revenues generated as a result of rezoning of districts close to the Park. This would not, Squadron stressed, require any additional levy on property owners, such as with a Business Improvement District, nor would it entail any adjustment to property tax rates. It would simply require that a portion of the additional revenue generated as a result of increased assessments on properties that are improved or brought to code because of rezoning, and which are located within a designated distance from the Park’s boundary (Squadron proposes four tenths of a mile), be designated for funding the Park. Squadron said that his projections of the revenue this was likely to generate, which projections will be available on his website soon, were not dependent on the outcome of any specific rezoning proposal, such as that proposed for a portion of DUMBO and disapproved by Community Board 2′s Land Use Committee on
Wednesday. Nevertheless, it seems obvious that, for Squadron’s plan to succeed, there would have to be some form of up-zoning of the area affected by that proposal.

Squadron was asked what would be necessary to put his plan into effect. He said it would require action by both houses of the State Legislature and the Governor, and that he could not guarantee any timetable, though he said he would do all he could to expedite it. Strong community support, he said, was essential to its success. Asked whether his plan was contingent on either continued State control of the park or a City takeover, as proposed by the Bloomberg administration, he said no, although he noted that turning over the Park to the City without the City’s commitment to a realistic plan for development and financing of the Park would be a grave mistake.

Share this Story:

, ,

  • Publius

    Good plan! This is the way it should have been from the beginning.

    Of course the interest$ will fight this tooth and nail.

    I hope this plan turns out to be more than a fart in a windstorm.

  • Adam G

    OT, but has anyone asked Squadron for his stance on the Ravitch MTA rescue plan?

  • BklynLifer

    The comment I heard at tonight’s presentation was “brilliant.” THIS is what elected officials should have been doing, instead of going along with the switcheroo from park to development project. Now don’t they all look foolish — they bought the “only luxury condo’s will bring in the revenue needed to maintain this park” line because they’re lazy and they’re cowards. Squadron shows that we CAN have a REAL park with active year-round recreation WITHOUT ADDITIONAL HOUSING.

    Bravo!

  • Brooklyn Guy

    Too little, too late.

    The ‘PIRC’ financing was as interesting as is ambitious. Squadron noted that various forms of incremental tax financing of new developments have been employed successfully in other states, but not much here. Why is that? He could not say. He also presumes that the FED or State should/will eat the cost of maintaining the marine infrastructure of the piers – $4MM a year – Damn! Why didn’t someone else think of that before? But even without that Fed funding, he insists that the PIRC can cover most of the annual maintenance. Interesting note – due to the PIRC ties to new re-zoning applications, little of the new money would come from Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Fulton Ferry, only from new developments, presumably those in DUMBO. But isn’t this financial plan built on the same assumption about housing and real estate as the current plan; the park will increase surrounding property values forever and that’s why you have condos. Someone in the back noted that the only area where there is new re-zoning to apply this incremental tax to (or whatever it is) is in DUMBO where the park is already complete. It was also unclear if the PIRC process could get implemented before current Dock street or the DUMBO rezoning projects are approved, and what happens if it wasn’t?

    There was no real response to a question as to what the PIRC implementation process was except that some new legislation in both the city and state is needed – how difficult could that be?

    What is the likelihood of this really happening anytime soon?

  • Pingback: Dumbo NYC, Brooklyn » Archive » Dumbo Links Week of 15Mar09 (DumboNYC.com)

  • Barbara Brookhart

    State Senator Squadron definitely had done his homework, presenting a viable alternative of financing the Brooklyn Bridge Park without using housing. This meeting was not about redesigning the park, or of stopping the current plan; it was a presentation and discussion of an alternative financial model to fund the park, so that a housing complex the size of Concord Village doesn’t need to be built at the foot of Atlantic Avenue to fund the ongoing and non-recurring maintenance of the park. Instead of financing the park with property “PILOTs” (Payment-In-Lieu of Tax) on the luxury condos, he proposed to finance the park with a “TIF”, a tax incremental financing plan. He called it a PIRC area. There would be no increase in property taxes, such as with a Park Business Improvement District.
    The Brooklyn Heights blog has a good report of the meeting and the Squadron plan at http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/7876

    I found a pretty good explanation of “PILOTs” and “TIF” district for a project in Kansas City at http://www.cdfa.net/cdfa/cdfaweb.nsf/fbaad5956b2928b086256efa005c5f78/03193490fa56aff38625726b0065f1ff/$FILE/TIF%20Payments%20Pilots%20v%20Eats.pdf

    Squadron plans to work with the local congressional delegation and Senator Shumer to get stimulus funding for expensive and critical repairs required by shoreline bulkheads, piers, and other maritime infrastructure of waterfront parks and public spaces throughout the City. We can all agree that it is too expensive for parks such as the Hudson River Park, Williamsburg, and the Brooklyn Bridge Park to self-finance these non-recurring maintenance cost. It degrades the park with the necessity to becoming a Battery Park-type of development with a and park-like perimeter and public promenade. The Regional Plan Association did a study on caring for NYC Emerging Waterfront Parks & Public Spaces in 2007, and made this recommendation. This report is at http://www.rpa.org/pdf/waterfrontparksreport.pdf

  • Barbara Brookhart

    I put this comment on the Carroll Garden Yahoo Group, so would you please take out the line about linking to your blog. Thanks!

  • LC

    So, let me get this straight. Instead of relying on development within, or more accurately, next to, the park, which nobody wants, we’re going to rely on up-zoning of neighborhoods, which nobody wants. Brilliant!

    Maybe this could have worked if it was proposed years ago, before the re-development of DUMBO was nearly complete. Now I just see this as pie in the sky ideas from a new congressman happy to appeal to the massive amount of NIMBY’s in his district.

  • Brooklyn Guy

    Barbara B – I don’t think it is that simple – Yes, there would be no increase in taxes for those outside the re-zoned areas, errr, like most of us. But the redeveloped properties would naturally have an increase due to the new use, which is expected, but isn’t there an incremental tax on them for the park? Otherwise it would redirect funds out of the natural tax increase which I believe the

  • Brooklyn Guy

    Barbara B – I don’t think it is that simple – Yes, there would be no increase in taxes for those outside the re-zoned areas, errr, like most of us. But the redeveloped properties would naturally have an increase due to the new use, which is expected, but isn’t there an incremental tax on them for the park? Otherwise it would redirect funds out of the natural tax increase which I believe the City would b

  • Brooklyn Guy

    OOPS – Cut me off
    ……….which I believe the City would be giving up; why would they agree to this?

  • BklynLifer

    Sorry, Brooklyn Guy. You weren’t listening carefully to what Sen. Squadron said.
    Q. You wrote that Sen. Squadron “presumes that the FED or State should/will eat the cost of maintaining the marine infrastructure of the piers.”
    A. No he didn’t say that. He said that a federal marine infrastructure grant, which the city will request from the stimulus funds, would pay the cost of the pier work that – under the current BBPDC plan — would have been amortized over several years at the cost of $4 million per year.

    Q. You wrote that, “due to the PIRC ties to new re-zoning applications, little of the new money would come from Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Fulton Ferry, only from new developments, presumably those in DUMBO.”
    A. Wrong again, Oh Wise One! ANY change in zoning category in these neighborhoods would trigger a reassessment at a (likely) higher tax rate. So, for example, if a Bk Hts building owned by the Watchtower were to be sold, the building would move from tax-exempt (i.e., paying no property taxes) to SOME property category (e.g., residential), which would yield SOME property taxes (as opposed to NO property taxes). Under a PIRC, (pay attention now!) some portion of the INCREASE in property taxes the city realizes as a result of the rezoning would be assigned to the PIRC. The same would apply if some of LICH’s properties in Cobble Hill were sold and rezoned. There’s also vacant land and other property in the Columbia St area that could be rezoned. ALL of these properties, not just those in DUMBO, My Astute Friend, would produce a PERMANENT source of park funding that would obviate the need for housing in the park

    Q. You asked, “What is the likelihood of this really happening anytime soon?”
    A. Well, My Friend, what is the likelihood of the park getting built under the current plan? Unless you count $350 million for a dog run and a playground as a “park,” the truth is, we won’t be GETTING a park under the current plan. All the planning and mobilizing and persuading of the last 20-25 years have been thrown down the toilet because of the foolhardy and self-serving switch from a “park” to a “development,” conceptualized by some of the same unelected rich people who are sinking the world economy, and perpetrated by our lapdog local elected officials.
    Now we have at least one local elected official, Sen. Squadron, who realizes what an incompetent joke the current plan has become, and did what our other elected officials should have done all along – come up with a REALISTIC plan that satisfies our desire for a REAL park and the unfortunate need for the park to be “self-sustaining.”

    Let’s hope our other elected officials show the same intelligence and courage shown by Sen. Squadron, crawl out from their hiding places, and do what needs to be done to make Sen. Squadron’s plan a reality.

    P.S. As to your latest tripartite comment in response to Barbara B, the underlying assumption is that the “redeveloped properties” you refer to would NOT be increasing in value as much as if there were no BBP. Imagine, if you will, whether vacant land in the Columbia St area would be as attractive to build on if there were no park? This plan is cost-neutral. The city would give up nothing except tax revenue it would (presumably) not have gotten were the park to not be built. NO ONE pays an increase in taxes. EVERYONE pays whatever tax rate everyone else in that property class pays. It’s NOT like a BID, which charges property owners within the BID area an ADDITIONAL amount over and beyond the normal property tax rate.

    You ask why the city would agree to this. The answer is simple. Where the BBPDC plan to be built, the city would get NO property taxes, because the housing in the park would replace property taxes with “payments in lieu of taxes” (PILOTS) which would be given to the park, while at the same time saddling the city with the need for the additional infrastructure and schools and police and fire prevention and garbage pickup that all housing requires. The PIRC option is better than the housing option for the city’s coffers.

  • Pingback: Dumbo NYC, Brooklyn » Archive » Squadron’s Plan to Pay for the BBP (DumboNYC.com)

  • http://deleted Buddy11210

    Bravo Senator Squadron for putting forward a community-based plan that has been spoken about and advocated for over decades. His spin on paying for it through a PIRC (“park perk”) is inspired. And when you consider that not even half of the dollars are truly needed to “maintain” this park, even smarter. Now, we need a real audit of the numbers so the criminals who advocated for housing inside our parks can be fully exposed….

  • Pingback: Brooklyn Heights Blog » City Council candidate debate round-up