Brooklyn Heights Association Annual Meeting Highlights

Because of a long standing conflict your correspondent was unable to attend Thursday evening’s Brooklyn Heights Association Annual Meeting. Fortunately, The Eagle’s Mary Frost was there to provide an excellent summary. As always for the past several years, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway was a prominent topic. The Eagle story quotes BHA President Erika Belsey Worth:

The BHA has not wavered in our determination to pursue a more responsible and sustainable solution to the problem of the BQE … We continue to work with our neighbors in the ‘BQET,’ which is the Coalition for the BQE Transformation.

Ms. Belsey Worth also praised the addition of a bike lane to the Brooklyn Bridge, which has reduced the Manhattan bound auto lanes from three to two. The Eagle quotes her as saying this “benefits both bike riders and the crumbling cantilever underlying the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.” Presumably, the benefit to the Promenade results from drivers coming from the south and going to Manhattan deciding to pay the toll and take the Brooklyn-Battery — excuse me — the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel rather than face a horrendous traffic jam.

The BHA’s priorities, according to the Eagle story, include, among others, preserving the Promenade and its view plane, providing better access to Brooklyn Bridge Park from Atlantic Avenue, and new access to the Park directly from the Heights. This latter, we believe, is likely to mean, as discussed in an earlier Eagle story by Ms. Frost, a connection from the Promenade at the Montague Street entrance. This, to provide accessibility, would likely involve a bridge and an elevator tower.

Ms. Belsey Worth paid tribute to two Heights residents who were active in community affairs and whom we lost during the past year. Jack Kenny was alert to “quality of life” issues and strong in opposition to the proposal to build a temporary six lane BQE in place of the Promenade. Ben Crane rallied opposition to the plan to let developers put high rise buildings on the piers below the Heights, thereby blocking the view plane from the Promenade. The Eagle story quotes former BHA Executive Director Judy Stanton as saying Mr. Crane “gets as much credit for Brooklyn Bridge Park as can be poured on him.”

Traffic expert Sam Schwartz has been engaged to study Montague Street traffic patterns and to develop “designs for the four blocks from Court Street to Montague Terrace.” The objective, according to Ms. Belsey Worth as quoted in the Eagle story,

is to create a pedestrian-friendly zone that encourages people to linger and to shop so that our existing businesses will flourish and our new businesses will fill the remaining empty spots.

Ms. Belsey Worth also urged neighbors to patronize the shops in the Clark Street subway station arcade, “which are suffering a devastating loss of business during elevator construction.”

The meeting also featured community service awards, which we mentioned in our earlier post, along with discussion by two prominent journalists about the pressing issue of climate change. For more about these, see Ms. Frost’s Eagle story.

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  • nomcebo manzini

    Thanks so very much for this summary.

    We’ll probably see soon enough how much of the BQE and other NYC auto traffic is “necessary,” because $5 p.g. gas is coming soon to a pump near all of us. Concerns about subway safety, of course, push in the other direction. I still do not see much NYPD presence in stations or on trains. Some things are simple enough for even Mayor Simpleton to grasp them: Police presence is a confidence builder at a time when that should be mission #1.

    As for an elevator at Montague & the Prom. improving Heights access to BBP, … the easy and fair response is – When Pigs Fly!

    I know this is a quote of a quote of a quote, but what on earth is meant by

    “providing better access to Brooklyn Bridge Park from Atlantic Avenue.” 2 or 3 traffic lights west of Hicks may not be the last word in pedestrian-friendly, but gee whiz. Unless you feel about cars the way I feel about Trump, this is wretched excess (in terms of any sane person’s wish list.) Most kids learn that asking for a pony – especially in Brooklyn Heights – is a non-starter.

  • Bornhere

    I completely agree about running shuttles, which seems like such a sensible fix for visitors as well as for those Heights residents who would love some respite from the crowds/noise on Joralemon and other approaches to the Park. The loop could make stops along Old Fulton, Cadman Plaza, Court Street, and on down Atlantic to stops along Furman. Makes so much sense.

  • KDHicks

    Does a “pedestrian friendly zone” mean shutting down the street from cars, or just improving the experience of walking the street?

    What about featuring local artwork / artists or small makers in some of the abandoned storefronts? Would obviously have to be ok’d with landlords, but imagine this could help promote their spaces as well for prospective renters…

  • nomcebo manzini

    Good questions, all, and here are just a couple of thoughts. The “local artists” thing, I think, has (or might have … or might have if you were a landlord who’s never tried it) a bit of “desperation” associated with it.

    But, as I’ve said before, Montague’s status is like “yellow cabs” 5-10 years back – probably beyond saving. And while the City eventually owned up to its role in bankrupting mostly immigrant operators, R.E. is your classic “free market” experience. They charged too much, too long … and now they have only bad choices. As with cabs, we really DO have a mostly new ballgame (not new any more, but NOTHING like 2000, say) where you need a luxury niche that somehow gets people to say, “Oh what the heck, it’s only money.”

    The BHA has some very smart people involved, and they’ve done some wonderful things for B.H. Now, it’s time that they get AHEAD of the curve. Time to “cut a deal” that makes *residential* interior Montague’s Second Act.

    In the absence of that, look for 2-3 head shops and other bottom feeders. Remember, it’s worse than it looks. You’ve got several “businesses” (just below street level on the S. Side across from City Chemists) that CANNOT be viable, but if you own the building, it gives you something to do. The “bank block” and the Casino block are doing OK. The middle 2 blocks has the big empty “Loft’s” – likely needing to be carved up or it’ll stay empty for the forseeable future, and CVS closing is like the Montague losing a “molar.”

    Look at the N. Heights for what very height limited condos fetch (e.g., 75 Poplar – 2 BR for $1.5-2MM. Truly desperate times when one turns to a “traffic expert” in the face of daunting economics. Nobody goes to Albee Sq. (where Target, Alamo, McNally Jackson, etc. are) for the “ambience.” They go because it’s worth a little schlep. Some go to Montague because they have a cat, others because they’re stoners, others for an ATM. See the problem?

  • nomcebo manzini

    Yes, it makes more sense than an elevator, but think about it – people are MOSTLY going to the park (now that there’s no food fair, thank the Lord) for walking, biking, running, sports, etc.

    Saving them 1 or 2 10 minutes walks (to/from Boro Hall) when they – most of them – burn twice as many calories while in the park – is like keeping your dog’s leash on once you get home – idiotic.

  • Bornhere

    Sure, but there are also families with little ones or other older people who enjoy the view, the outdoors, the who knows. And is it promised that there will be no more food events? I’m just guessing more people who might not love the schlep down and then back “up the hill” might benefit. (Bear in mind that I’m a hardwired “I hate the park-er”—and every time I walk down to the Promenade, I’m a teeny-tiny bit edged by not seeing the piers. Had there been any attempt to acknowledge the history, the evolution of the BH waterfront, it would have been a nice touch. What we have is just so … invented. Ah, well … .)