Yassky on Dock Street’s 11th Hour


On the eve of the City Council’s public hearing about the Dock Street DUMBO development project (Thursday at 10 am at City Hall), we asked Councilman David Yassky what he’s doing to rally support against the project and how he’d feel if the city council voted for the project.

“I think my arguments are getting some traction. I don’t know how hard the administration will lobby for it, but I or a member of my staff has called every single office and said, ‘I’m opposed and here’s why.’ We’ve sent a copy of [Brooklyn Bridge historian] David McCullough’s statement.”

He’s already planned out his questions: first up, Yassky wants to know what Two Trees Management plans to charge the city for use of the school. While Two Trees has said it will only give them the shell of the school and the School Construction Authority has allocated $43 million in its five-year budget, Yassky said, “That’s like saying, I’ll give you the steak for free and charge you $34 for the mashed potatoes.”

“Don’t play my constituents for fools — they are not,” he intoned.

Second, Yassky wants to know what is behind Two Trees’ much-promised middle school and the SCA. “There’s something really fishy there,” he said, referencing emails sent within the SCA and publicly released in a recent FOIL request. “I don’t know why the SCA is so wholly committed to this project, but they plainly have failed to look for the best possible site for the public.”

And how will he feel toward his colleagues if it passes? (Typically, council members will vote the way of the district’s representative, but the Council’s zoning and franchises committee chair Tony Avella of Queens also opposes the project.)

“I will be very disappointed, and I’m going to be kind of frosty to them,” he said.

Our question came as part of a blogger breakfast Yassky held on Tuesday morning. Yassky also discussed his bid for comptroller, outlined his ideas to reform the city’s entire governmental structure, and talked about the “hard choices” the city will have to make to stay afloat in the current fiscal crisis.

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  • davoyager

    Yassky has failed his constituency on this issue and is determined that no one else should succeed thereby highlighting his failure.
    He opposes this project because his rich contributors oppose it and for no other reason. His arguments are empty. The shell costs $40 million and outfitting it costs $40 million. I would rather have a controller who can add and who actually uses his ears and mind to decide an issue not his outstretched hand full of greenbacks.

  • Dave

    I see from the first two comments that the Two Trees’ PR machine is alive and well. If we’re on the topic of developer contributions how about council members — including some who are voting on this project — who have received thousands in contributions from Two Trees and its employees? Where’s the outrage about that?

  • my2cents

    Nicky, You can be pro development and still be against this project (and atlantic yards to boot). There is good development and bad. This one falls into the latter category and he is right to see it for what it is regardless of his other positions.

  • Carlo Trigiani

    From the TT presentations, confirmed in the FOIL documents, the offer is for a 45,742 square foot middle school. The developer will pay for the shell, estimated cost is $10 million. The DOE has the option of either taking a 99-year lease at $1 per year or a condo interest in the space.

    No meat, no potatoes.

    I hope the councilman steps up to protect the taxpayers’ interests and gets this deal in writing.


  • ABC

    what carlo said. even I know what the city will be charged and I’m only halfway following this story. maybe he plans to ask softball questions?

  • Publius

    In response to Carlo’s often stated request that Councilman Yassky, who uncovered the SCA/Two Trees obstruction of community efforts and shocking lack of alternate site due diligence through FOIL, now participate in this corruption: I think Carlo should be taking ownership of this with Councilwoman Tish James.

    Councilwoman Tish James, a project supporter, should “step up to protect the taxpayers’ interests and gets this deal in writing”.

    Oh wait, she had an opportunity to do this from day one, like CB6 did with Toll Brothers in Gowanus (who of course, refused to put anything in writing and backed off), before Coucilwoman James in December 2008 and again in January 2009 encouraged appointees on CB2 to give Two Trees a blank check.

    Maybe Carlo can leverage his relationship with the developer to draft some binding language to make it easier for Councilwoman James before she continues to encourage her colleagues in the City Council to again give Two Trees a blank check.

  • ABC

    why on earth does everyone here suggest that anyone who doesn’t come out ANTI DOCK NOW!!!! is part of the Two Trees machine? it does them a disservice to not even acknowledge that there is a difference of opinion. (and hey, could I get a list of everyone leading the effort against Dock St and their address? I once asked two guys on montague who were looking for signatures and – sure enough — they both lived in 70 Washington.)

  • Publius

    ABC: The 12,000+ signatures on the anti-Dock St. petition might help you. Also, leaders of the Cobble Hill Association, the Vinegar Hill Association, Fulton Ferry Association, and the Brooklyn Heights Association–all grass roots neighborhood organizations against Dock St.–don’t live in 70 Washington, as the Two Trees supporters would have everyone believe.

  • ABC

    wasn’t talking about the signatures or the BHA, etc. was talking about the people stopping me on the street asking me to “save the brooklyn bridge”

  • nabeguy

    No meat, no potatoes…and no guarantee of how the DOE will use the space.

  • No One Of Consequence

    Any reports from City Council public hearing this morning?