Scissura: “Brooklyn Heights will bear brunt of pain” during BQE reconstruction.

Carlo Scissura, chair of the committee appointed by Mayor de Blasio to study the reconstruction of the cantilevered portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway below Brooklyn Heights, was the featured speaker at this evening’s meeting of the Independent Neighborhood Democrats. This was not widely publicized until this morning, when Toba Potosky alerted some of us — many thanks, Toba — and my BHB colleague SongBirdNYC responded quickly with a post, so many thanks to her.

Because of the late notice, perhaps only a quarter or less of the seats in the St. Francis College auditorium were filled. Mr. Scissura began by describing how his committee came into being, noting the community reaction to the initial plans put forward by the DOT. Of the DOT, he, a Brooklynite, said, “I think they didn’t know they were dealing with Brooklyn.” He also noted that Mayor de Blasio is a Brooklynite, which he said led him to appoint the committee. He ignored, or glossed over, the fact that the Mayor initially endorsed DOT’s “innovative” proposal that would replace the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with a six lane temporary highway for a period of at least six years, which the Mayor compared to “pulling off a bandage.”

Mr. Scissura then said the committee’s charge was to determine “what can be built, but also what can the community and elected officials support.” He said any solution must “preserve the historical importance of the [Brooklyn Heights] Promenade” and also preserve the integrity of Brooklyn Bridge Park. He also said “Brooklyn Heights will bear the brunt of pain” during the BQE reconstruction, and that the Promenade “needs to be repaired and replaced” as part of the BQE reconstruction.

He added that what happens on this stretch of the BQE also depends on what happens elsewhere on the local highway system, including the Gowanus Expressway and the BQE “trench” between Cobble Hill and the Columbia Street district. He noted that the Atlantic Avenue entrance to the BQE is especially dangerous. More importantly, he noted the as yet unknown effects of such changes as the possible re-imposition of two way tolls on the Verrazano Bridge and congestion pricing in Manhattan, both of which he said are likely to reduce BQE traffic. He said he was “intrigued” by the possibility of reducing the cantilevered portion of the BQE from three lanes in each direction to two.

The Committee will hold more meetings with community groups and interested parties, beginning with one with the Brooklyn Heights Association and other local community groups next week. We will try to keep you posted on dates, times, and locations.

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  • Jorale-man

    Great to have the BHB covering this, which clearly was not publicized nearly as well as it should have been. This all seems worrying. Saying that there’s “pain” in store to me signals that some form of the “innovative” plan is still being considered. I gather he wasn’t taking questions from the audience on this point or someone would have asked him directly.

  • gc

    Shame on him
    Shame on us
    Scissura shows up in our neighborhood discussing the BQE and nobody shows up. How did this happen? Where was the Heights Association? Where was A Better Way? Where were we all?
    Where is the transparency that Scissura claimed to be all about?

  • karen

    Of course Brooklyn Heights is going to bear the brunt of it. No matter what the solution, innovative or not. The promenade will be affected at some level, the traffic will back up into the neighborhood, the noise and mess from the construction will be miserable. The only thing we can hope and pray for is that the 6 lanes of the highway won’t be running through the neighborhood itself!

  • Claude Scales

    He did take questions, but his answers were mostly noncommittal. One thing I remember his saying was “Nobody should sell their house.”

  • CassieVonMontague

    Does anyone want to buy a townhouse on Joralemon that shares a wall with the BQE? A paid $6.5 million for it, but I’m willing to accept lower offers. I’ll throw in a 2006 Mazda CX-5.

  • Reggie

    What? Scissura accepts an invitation to speak before a political club and he and the BHA and A Better Way are responsible for outreach? How about, ‘Shame on IND’?

  • Proto Plano

    Carlo Scissura is a NYC construction insider. His interest lies only in promoting big construction projects for his members and cronies in NYC. Projects that would not exist without having a harmonious relationship with state and city government. He was never the right person to chair this panel, a panel that requires vision and potentially the boldness to challenge the DOT’s planning and engineering “vision” of the BQE plan.

  • Local_Montague_Man


  • A Neighbor

    Two thoughts. Does anyone know other members of the committee? As I recall, some are more likely to me concerned with quality-of-life and, critical, traffic-calming measures. I’m thinking we need more insight into where this committee is going.

    Also, BillyD is not going to be mayor thru this and doesn’t really care much. We need to make this a major issue for the three likely mayoral wannabes – Stringer, Johnson, and Adams. This is where our political leverage is I think.

  • Montague, as in Romeo

    Hey folks – I’m Jason Shelly, the president of IND. Thanks very much to BHB for covering our meeting.

    I’m sorry that some people did not find that the meeting the was adequately publicized. We did send out a media advisory with 10 days notice to a large number of publications including NY1, Gothamist, Brooklyn Paper, Kings County Politics, Crain’s, Curbed, Patch, NYPost, NYDaily News, and others. We sent an advisory to the Brooklyn Heights Blog at the address that we have on our list ( If we should update that address, we’re very happy to do so!

    We also publicized the meeting via our email list, on Twitter, and on our facebook page, and we paid to promote it via ads on Facebook. I’m sorry that some people missed out, but from what Carlo Scissura indicated, this will be a long process and he is willing to come back in the future for updates.

    We’d love to have readers of this blog attend future meetings and events of interest. The easiest way to stay up to date is by signing up to our mailing list, which you can do at the top of the page here: or follow us on facebook and twitter: @INDBrooklyn

    We don’t have meetings in the summer months, but we’ll have some social events and then be back in full force this fall. If you make it to an event, please stop me and say hello!

    Jason Shelly

  • Knight
  • Proto Plano

    After listening to Scissura last night, he seems to have completely ignored or reinterpreted the panel’s mandate and process as described by city hall’s announcement in April.

    Taken from:

    The members of the new BQE Panel* are:
    Carlo Scissura, NY Building Congress (Chair)
    Rohit Aggarwala, Sidewalk Labs
    Vincent Alvarez, New York City Central Labor Council
    Kate Ascher, BuroHappold Engineering
    Elizabeth Goldstein, Municipal Arts Society
    Henry Gutman, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp./Brooklyn Bridge Park
    Kyle Kimball, Con Edison
    Mitchell Moss, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
    Kaan Ozbay, NYU Tandon School of Engineering
    Hani Nassif, Rutgers School of Engineering
    Benjamin Prosky, American Institute of Architects
    Denise Richardson, General Contractors Association
    Ross Sandler, New York Law School
    Jay Simson, American Council of Engineering Companies of New York
    Tom Wright, Regional Plan Association
    Kathryn Wylde, Partnership for NYC

    Panel Process: The panel will begin meeting this month, and are expected to produce their conclusions by this summer. It will evaluate underlying project assumptions and review existing proposals, including those that have been generated by elected officials and community members, no-build or reduced capacity options, and other ideas as generated by the panel. The panel will also hear from and consult with a group of elected officials and community, civic, and business associations at key points throughout its review. At the end of the evaluation process, the panel will submit a brief report, outlining key recommendations, which could address both design concepts and construction innovations.

  • SongBirdNYC

    The Mayor’s task force should have a seat for members of the BHA, A Better Way and other members of the community. How can we make that happen?

  • Ann Dooley

    This was not a well publicized meeting, however a member of A Better Way did attend, and representative of the group will also be at the panel meeting next week.

  • Ann Dooley

    A Better Way is a part of the community panel and so is the BHA and other neighborhood associations impacted by the project.

  • gc

    My concern is that Mr Scissura came to the Heights, discussed the BQE project, and when he looked out into the audience all he saw were empty seats. He needs to feel the neighborhood’s concern. A standing room only crowd would have made that concern obvious.
    With some sort of notification that is what he would have seen.

  • Proto Plano

    Dear All,

    Here is a weblink to a site dedicated to the BQE expert panel. There is a webportal for sharing your questions and concerns with Carlo Scissura. A telephone number to reach him directly is also listed. Please let your voices be heard.

  • TeddyNYC

    Yeah, it would be nice if the BQE entrances at Atlantic and Columbia St. were made safer. As for the rest, including the Promenade, it’s not really a surprise that the city still favors the innovative plan.

  • Montaguy

    We need you in the neighborhood!

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    There are many things on many people’s “wish list,” but some show up more often than others, of course.

    And some, no doubt, would win a popularity contest … but are either too expensive (at some level, that’s “objectively,” “realistically” the case, even though when billions are involved, there’s an element of bizarre-ness) or too complex.

    Face it, the alternatives to the DOT plan have NOT been “costed out,” and that’s a big problem. I don’t know if the panel has the time or expertise or the budget to put numbers on them, and even if we take the DOT proposals and THEIR numbers with quite a bit of salt, the “brief report” owed by the panel is not likely to promote an alternative of unknown cost.

    (My layman’s instincts – and what, I admit, might be a little wishful thinking on my part – tell me that “net net,” the BQP proposal or the Wouters plan might actually cost less, especially if (as with the former), the additional green space is fashioned to generate substantial income in perpetuity.

    SURELY, the BHA, in advancing Mr. Wouters’ plan (funding it, one would think), could & should find a way to put a credible price tag on it!

    Mr. S’ mention of BBP and its “sanctity” (not his word, but the meaning of his comment) bodes very ill. For a park to be pitted against a COMMUNITY is pretty sad, and that the park is looking like “the favorite” is even worse.

    The only silver lining I can see is that a report that looks like a whitewash/rubber stamp thing is a little less likely to be “the last word” on the subject than one that considered the alternatives at considerable length.

    The Council Speaker at the Spring meeting at the Church threw out the possibility that the Council would look to other experts for guidance. Yes, as Mayor Bill heads toward an Iowa primary that will put paid to his illusions about being a more-than-NY figure, people like Corey Johnson have every incentive to lambaste his Bloomberg-like “that’s my decision – deal with it!” excesses.

  • Arch Stanton

    You make a good point about the fact that none of the alternate proposals have had any realistic cost analysis done. To get accurate numbers on them would be a costly and time consuming. Time is in shot supply on this project…

  • Claude Scales

    That’s why I’m going to Jack the Horse for a shot.

  • Claude Scales

    I don’t usually call out unintentional typos- I make enough of them myself, especially when I post in the wee hours-but that one was hard to resist. I see it’s now been corrected.

  • Arch Stanton

    No Worries, thanks for the heads up.

  • Reggie

    What’s the mileage on the CX-5?