Top Takeaways From BHA Annual Meeting

Here are your correspondent’s top takeaways from Wednesday evening’s Brooklyn Heights Association Annual Meeting. For a more detailed account, see Mary Frost’s story in the Brooklyn Heights Press.

Asked if he was aware of the shooting incident at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 2 last April, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson (photo) said he was. He noted that there were two arrests immediately after the incident. A grand jury found evidence sufficient to indict one of those arrested but not the other. The D.A.’s office is proceeding against the one indicted. The D.A. also described another incident in which members of rival gangs got into a shootout in DUMBO, after which some of them drove through Brooklyn Heights, throwing weapons from their cars. He said that anyone who witnesses a crime should first report it to the police, but that it should also be reported to the D.A.’s office (see phone numbers listed at linked web page). His office, as well as the police, should also be told of any situation that seems likely to give rise to criminal activity.

There will be no BHA House Tour this year, or likely ever again. Asked why, BHA President Patrick Killackey said it was “a victim of Facebook and Instagram.” (Would you want the interior of your residence displayed to the world on social media?) He noted that the House Tour has been the BHA’s largest source of funds, and that they are looking for an event to replace it.

Despite a vigorous challenge from Michael D.D. White of Citizens Defending Libraries, who cited a recent New York Post story, cited here, that reports the winning bid by Hudson Companies was lower than other bids, Mr. Killackey said the BHA would stand by its decision to support the deal as struck, including modifications to the original plan secured by City Council Member Steve Levin. He said the BHA believes this, while not optimal, is the best result available for the community.

The BHA is now actively involved in issues concerning real estate development in Brooklyn Bridge Park, including keeping such development to the minimum necessary to provide funding for park maintenance, and being a plaintiff, along with Save The View Now, in the lawsuit alleging that a penthouse on the Pierhouse intrudes on the protected view from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

Awards for the year: (1) Business of the Year: Henry’s End and owner Mark Lahm; (2) Outstanding Community Service Award: Toba Potosky and the Cadman Park Conservancy; (3) Good Neighbor Award: Robert Sage and Marilyn Brainin, representing the the co-op board of 75 Henry Street (Whitman Owners Corporation), whose residents voted against a lucrative offer from a developer to build a high rise building at Pineapple Walk: and (4) the BHA’s highest award, the Martha Atwater Award for Outstanding Community Activism; Steve Guterman, founder of Save The View Now.

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  • Jorale-man

    Good report.
    1) A shootout in Dumbo with a getaway chase through BH? I hadn’t heard that. You’d think it would have been front-page news at the time.
    2) Funny about social media putting an end to the BHA house tours. That does sound pretty awful, being crammed into a stranger’s living room next to people angling for the best Instagram shot.

  • Jeffrey Smith

    First, everyone reading this should go back to last Wednesday’s open blog and see what has already been commented on the events at St Francis. Very controlled and increasingly devitalized, like the area they at best marginally “represent”

  • Andrew Porter

    I have no idea why you say the House Tour didn’t take place last year, because the Brooklyn Heights Blog wrote about it, here:

  • Andrew Porter

    I no longer read your paranoid and absurd comments.

  • Jeffrey Smith

    I really want and ask that everyone consider my views which are sincerely presented here in an effort to highlight critical issues facing
    this really national treasure.

    I hope you will continue to with an open mind evaluate what I try to honestly present.

    But I do notice that you seldom or never seem able to offer a answer let alone a valid counter, to what I bring to light here.

  • Claude Scales

    My bad. Somehow I had it in mind that there wasn’t a house tour last year. Maybe it was because there were only five houses participating, and there were rumblings that it might be the last one. I’ve corrected the post.

  • Cranberry Beret

    Demise of BHA house tour — I wouldn’t lay complete blame on social media. Easy access to pics on Instagram doesn’t help, but it’s really the combo of social media AND the increasing class of uber-wealthy BH homeowner who values total privacy, insularity and an indifference to neighborhood spirit — the people who own homes featured on the house tour have always been a well-to-do set, no doubt about it, but many of the original “brownstone warriors” (aka the re-gentrifiers from the 60s to the 00s) were happy to open their homes to neighbors because of their love of the neighborhood and love of old homes (restored to original condition) and desire to help the BHA (not to mention show off a little) — today’s crowd doesn’t care about restoration, they just want to turn their houses into clones of manhattan mansions complete with elevators, sub-grade squash courts and hot tubs on the roof, and couldn’t give two figs about being a part of the Heights community.

  • rjg

    Only lived in BH for two years back in the early ’80s so I don’t have an opinion about the neighborhood’s values.
    * * * * *
    I do think, however, there’s plenty of evidence current owners/sellers are targeting the “uber-wealthy BH homeowner” of tomorrow. Recent DOB filings in Brooklyn Heights show four landmarked multi-family buildings containing a total of 18 dwelling units will become four single family dwellings
    * * * * *
    February 8, 2016, 7 Monroe Place
    Dwelling units reduced from 3 to 1
    * * * * *
    February 3, 2016, 36 Schermerhorn Street
    Dwelling units reduced from 4 to 1
    * * * * *
    December 5, 2015, 89 Joralemon Street,
    Dwelling units reduced from 3 to 1
    * * * * *
    October 22, 2015, 8 Montague Terrace
    Dwelling units reduced from 8 to 1

  • Penny Bridge

    Thank you putting into words, my own thoughts.

  • Concerned

    WOW! I have no info on the subject, but this is a pretty interesting take from what sounds like a credible source (with an awesome handle…). Either way, are there really townhouses with their own squash courts in BH? That’s pretty wild.

  • Jeffrey Smith

    It couldn’t possible be what’s now walking around the Heights. Boy, are people, especially people who are long term residents who clearly see the “changes”, going to throw open their doors to people they don’t know…

  • Love Laner

    It’s such a shame. It really was a wonderful community event…Honestly it’s not that difficult to enforce the no photo rule. They have volunteers positioned who could easily keep track of this. So I had suspected there were other reasons for ending the tour.

    I’ll hold out hope that it will come back someday somehow.

  • Banet

    There are always just 5 houses on the tour. I think the only difference between last year’s tour and previous years was that there might not have beenthe cookies and lemonade at Plymouth Church last year.

  • Banet

    I had several conversations with Judy Stanton on the topic last year — when she struggled to find enough houses to hold the tour and it came *very* close to getting cancelled.

    “Social media” isn’t really the right term. I’ve been on the tour pretty much every year for 15 years and don’t recall EVER seeing anyone take a photo. The issue is more one of privacy and anonymity.

    In this age of Property Shark, Brownstoner, LinkedIn, and NYTimes Wedding Announcements someone can start with the address of a house and with 5 minutes online know the names of the owners, where they work, when they got married, possibly the names of their children, how much they paid for the house, etc.

    That was almost enough to kill the tour in and of itself, but the next problem was that ~90% of the attendees were NOT neighbors, but people from *outside* the neighborhood who heard about the tour through new online outlets like Gothamist, Brownstoner, Curbed, etc. So it wasn’t just your neighbors seeing what a nice job you did with your renovation, but hundreds of strangers knowing just a bit too much about who you were.

    Sigh. I’ll miss the tour. I thought it was lovely. Kudos to Judy for pulling it off for so many years.

  • Pierrepont

    This demise of the house tour is very sad news. For years, it was my instant example of everything that was lovely about living in Brooklyn Heights. I mean, find me a suburb in Westchester that hosts an event like that? But I guess it’s just too risky now. Or, perhaps this is no longer the place it was when I moved here fifteen years ago. As George Harrison noted, all things must pass.