Brooklyn Heights Blog » Government Dispatches from America's first suburb Thu, 15 Nov 2018 04:29:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 BHA to Meet With DOT Commissioner on BQE – Promenade Issue Mon, 12 Nov 2018 02:17:01 +0000

The Brooklyn Heights Association has announced that they have scheduled a meeting with City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and DOT engineers on Monday, November 19 at which BHA “will press DOT to abandon the 6-lane highway on the Promenade in favor of a better approach to rebuilding the BQE.”

The BHA has retained engineering consultants to evaluate alternatives to DOT’s plan and assess ways to reduce traffic on the BQE during the construction period. Their expertise will greatly assist the BHA in showing DOT that viable alternatives exist and warrant its consideration.

The change in control of the State Senate following last week’s election, the BHA notes, may

pave the way for passage of a long-delayed congestion pricing plan that would place tolls on the East River crossings. This measure would reduce traffic on the BQE, making alternative construction approaches more feasible and mitigating their environmental impacts. With this new political opportunity, the BHA will advocate for the passage of this congestion pricing plan.

Posters (photo) and buttons are available for free at the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange, 55 Pierrepont Street, and at the Montague Key Food. To help finance the BHA’s efforts to save the Promenade, you may donate to their BQE Fund here. You don’t have to be a BHA member to contribute.

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Vote on Tuesday! Mon, 05 Nov 2018 03:25:28 +0000

In case you hadn’t heard, this Tuesday, November 6 is a biggie: the 2018 midterm elections. A U.S. Senate seat is on the ballot. So are state offices, including Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller, along with State Senator and Assembly Member. Various local judges are on the ballot as well. There are also ballot issues concerning proposed changes to the City’s charter. You can get the details here. The linked site will also give you the location of your polling place. Polls are open from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

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BHA Update on BQE; “Save the Promenade” is now “A Better Way NYC” Fri, 02 Nov 2018 02:05:24 +0000

The Brooklyn Heights Association has sent us an update on efforts to have the City’s Department of Transportation to pursue alternatives to replacing the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for a period of at least six years with a temporary elevated six lane highway carrying heavy truck and auto traffic. The BHA has worked with Save the Promenade, now renamed A Better Way NYC, to “submit Freedom of Information Act (FOIL) Requests to DOT this week to gain access to information that will help us persuade the City that the Promenade Highway makes no sense and alternatives can be devised that will be far preferable.” A meeting scheduled between the BHA and DOT has been postponed to allow DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and local elected officials to attend. “The BHA also met with [State] Senator [Brian] Kavanagh and Assemblymember [Jo Anne] Simon last week, and Councilmember [Stephen] Levin the week before, to apprise them of our activities, discuss alternative solutions, and explore what role the State and other agencies can and should play.”

The BHA is “looking for and speaking with various technical consultants who can contribute to our efforts to evaluate other options and to assist in the analysis of environmental concerns.” If you wish to assist in this effort, as well as in The BHA’s overall campaign to oppose the highway, you may donate to the BHA’s BQE Fund here. You do not have to be a BHA member to donate.

The BHA has made posters opposing the highway plan which are free and available at the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange, 55 Pierrepont Street. In addition to the extensive media coverage this issue has already received, there will be a story in the Wall Street Journal on November 6.

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Mayor de Blasio Open to Alternative BQE Plan Levin Says “Worth Exploring” Mon, 22 Oct 2018 02:24:33 +0000

The New York Post reports that City Council Member Stephen Levin (photo) has called a proposal to temporarily re-route the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway over the berms on the eastern edge of Brooklyn Bridge Park during reconstruction of the cantilevered portion under Brooklyn Heights, instead of putting it on an elevated six lane highway that would replace the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for at least six years, “definitely worth exploring” The same Post story quotes Mayor de Blasio as saying that plan “is worth considering.”

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BHA: de Blasio “Blindsided” Brooklyn Heights on BQE Sun, 14 Oct 2018 23:43:46 +0000

Brooklyn Heights Association President Martha Bakos Dietz (in photo, helping at Save the Promenade’s stand during the Montague Street Sunday Social today) issued this statement in response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement that he favors the city DOT’s “innovative” option for BQE reconstruction:

As the President of the Board of Governors of the Brooklyn Heights Association, I was stunned to read the Crain’s report that Mayor de Blasio supports the New York City Department of Transportation’s so-called ‘Innovative’ approach to the reconstruction of the BQE.

At a time when the BHA has been trying to meet again with the DOT to urge serious consideration of alternatives to its two proposals, the Mayor makes it clear that the City does not care to hear our community’s opinion.

We certainly agree that the rehabilitation of the BQE is necessary and urgent and we are willing, as a neighborhood, to share the pain.

But the Mayor’s reference to the DOT’s alternative plan as a Band-Aid approach is condescending and dismissive of the very real consequences to Brooklyn Heights of an approach that would place six lanes of highway traffic in close proximity to an historic district and its almost two-centuries-old buildings.

We truly think there are other options to be considered and the City needs to meet with us as soon as possible to discuss these.

The BHA urges local residents and anyone concerned with the preservation of the Promenade to support Save the Promenade and to email the Mayor’s representative to Brooklyn Heights, Mr. Daniel Abramson, at

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Mayor Prefers Replacing Promenade With Highway During BQE Reconstruction Sat, 13 Oct 2018 02:40:00 +0000

The Brooklyn Paper reports that Mayor Bill de Blasio has expressed a preference for the City Department of Transportation’s “innovative” plan that would close the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for at least six years and replace it with a temporary six lane highway that would render some residences virtually uninhabitable. The Brooklyn Paper story quotes the Mayor:

It will definitely have a big impact, but I think it’s the way to address the bigger problem once and for all, and as quickly as we can … It’s a painful approach, it will definitely create a lot of inconvenience for people — I don’t want to underestimate what impact it would have.

The Mayor is also quoted as saying the “traditional” option of rebuilding the BQE in segments while keeping some lanes open and closing portions of the Promenade in order would divert too much traffic to local streets. He didn’t mention any other options, still on the table, such as a tunnel, or some that could reduce truck traffic and allow more time for reconstruction, such as putting two way tolls on the Verrazano Bridge, or tolls on the East River Bridges, or congestion pricing (which would require federal, in the case of Verrazano tolls, or otherwise state cooperation). The Mayor described replacing the Promenade with a highway as “kind of the pull-the-band-aid off approach.” A band-aid that takes six years or more to pull off?

Photo: By Kevin Case from Bronx, NY, USA (Bill de Blasio) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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City Will Consider Options for BQE Reconstruction Sun, 30 Sep 2018 18:30:39 +0000

A large crowd assembled for Thursday evening’s meeting at which City Department of Transportation officials discussed plans for the reconstruction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway below Brooklyn Heights. I took the photo some minutes before the program began; by the time it did there were even more standing in the back or along the sides, and some were turned away because of lack of space. The size of the crowd, almost all of whom made the trek from the Heights to Myrtle Avenue just beyond the Flatbush Avenue Extension, was occasioned by the DOT’s recent announcement of an “innovative” plan to build a temporary elevated highway that would replace the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for six years and put highway traffic, including many trucks, close to residences and playgrounds. These are my takeaways from the meeting; for other accounts see The Brooklyn Paper and Curbed.

Nothing is settled. DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said that this meeting was only the first of many public events to be held as part of the environmental review process that will continue from now until 2020, when the request for proposals to design and rebuild the BQE will be issued. While the DOT’s Chief Engineer, Robert Collyer, stated his preference for the “innovative” plan, he allowed that the decision on how to proceed would be made as a result of the environmental assessment. Even the tunnel option is still a conceivable outcome, although DOT’s Senior Program Manager Tanvi Pandya noted that the only tunnel alignment the DOT considers feasible would place its northern entrance and exit north of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. This means that traffic to and from these bridges would still have to use the present BQE alignment, or else be routed over local streets. Other means of reducing the traffic burden on the BQE, such as putting tolls on the East River bridges and effecting congestion pricing in Manhattan, would require cooperation at the state level. State Senator Brian Kavanagh, addressing the meeting, said he would support whatever state actions were necessary. Any action with regard to the Verazzano Bridge tolls would require federal approval.

The temporary highway may be re-routed over part of Brooklyn Bridge Park. This was suggested by a local resident during the question and answer period, and was also alluded to by City Council Member Steve Levin, who noted in his remarks at the meeting, “there are these berms ….” The Wall Street Journal reports that, after the meeting, Commissioner Trottenberg expressed willingness to consider this option.

No matter what, the Promenade must be rebuilt. In her opening remarks, Commissioner Trottenberg said that like many of Robert Moses’s structures, the cantilevered portion of the BQE “was not built to last.” Ms. Pandya noted that the Promenade is part of this “not built to last” structure and that, while it doesn’t bear the weight burden that the BQE lanes below do, it is still structurally unsound. The question is whether the rebuilding of the Promenade will be done in one fell swoop (and, under the “innovative” plan, following a six year closure) or in segments, allowing access to parts of the Promenade while work is done on others.

Direct access from Columbia Heights to DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Squibb Park, and Hillside Dog Park will be interrupted. This is because the bridge that carries Columbia Heights over the BQE must be removed during the reconstruction. This will also entail temporary loss of the Harry Chapin Playground, which sits atop that bridge. Asked about the effect of the “innovative” plan on the Pierrepont Playground, which would abut the temporary elevated highway, Ms. Pandya said the playground would be all right. There were also assurances that, apart from the access issue, Hillside Dog Park would not be affected.

Existing BQE environmental problems may not be cured. During the question and answer period, Willowtown Association member Martin Hale said he had measured noise levels from BQE traffic at Adam Yauch Park, near his home, and found they sometimes exceeded eighty decibels. He said the federal regulations governing environmental assessments included provisions allowing the grandfathering of pre-existing conditions or those that cannot be mitigated by technically available means, and asked if the DOT would rely on these. Mr. Collyer said they would not rely on them with respect to the construction work, and would do their best to mitigate any noise and air quality problems. However, no assurance was given that, following completion of the project, pre-existing environmental problems would be alleviated.

Update: The BHA has now announced its opposition to the “innovative” proposal and urged the DOT to “work with the community to identify and evaluate other options that do not prioritize motorists at the complete expense of residents.” The BHA has yet to take a position. The first speaker during the question and answer period was Peter Bray, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Heights Association. He began by comparing the available options to the circles of Dante’s Inferno, an analogy with which Commissioner Trottenberg agreed. Mr. Bray said he had heard from many Heights residents, all of whom were strongly opposed to the elevated highway proposal. He said the BHA “will listen to all alternatives and be responsible to the community.” He also noted concerns that the city would run short of money needed to complete the restoration of the Promenade. Commissioner Trottenberg replied that it’s not up to DOT which option to choose, that there are “many stakeholders” as well as those directly affected by the elevated highway proposal, and that the “Design/Build” procedure authorized by the state for the project meant that the contractor would agree to a firm price. Ms. Pandya added that bonds and insurance would cover the contractor’s obligations.

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Reminder: Meeting Thursday Evening on BQE Repairs and Promenade Wed, 26 Sep 2018 03:28:27 +0000

The Brooklyn Heights Association has details on the Update meeting on BQE Rehabilitation, a project that could include closing the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for years and building a temporary six lane highway that would bring traffic to the level of Heights residences. Alternatively, it could cause major diversions of truck and car traffic to local streets.

The meeting will be held at the National Grid Auditorium, on the second floor of One Metrotech Center (enter from Jay Street). Presentations begin at 6:30 and ends at 8:30, but doors open at 5:30; best to get there early if you want a good seat. The presentations by officials will be followed by time for comments from the audience. The meeting location is ADA accessible.

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Vote Tomorrow Wed, 12 Sep 2018 12:35:03 +0000

Tomorrow, Thursday, September 13, is the statewide primary election to choose candidates to run in the November general election for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and other state offices. Polls are open from 6:00 AM until 9:00 PM. By entering your address at this website, you can see who is on the ballot in your location for each office, with further links to the candidates’ own websites and other sources of information. It will also give you the location of your polling place.

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Levin Has Big Kitty For Local Projects; Needs Your Advice Wed, 05 Sep 2018 02:53:56 +0000

Our feline friendly City Council Member Stephen Levin has $1.5 million for capital projects and (this is new) $20,000 for expense funding, all to be distributed in accordance with the wishes of constituents in the 33rd Council District (which includes Brooklyn Heights). There will be two Neighborhood Assemblies in the Heights — one at the Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierrepont Street (corner of Clinton) on Wednesday, September 12 from 6:30 to 8:00 PM; and one at St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street (between Clinton and Court) on Tuesday, October 16, also from 6:30 to 8:00 PM — at which you may present or discuss ideas. You may also submit suggestions here. You may also contact Mr. Levin’s Participatory Budgeting Director, Benjamin Solotaire, at or by phone at 718-875-5200.

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Design/Build for BQE Renovation Approved Tue, 03 Apr 2018 02:20:40 +0000

The Brooklyn Heights Association has let us know that the state budget, passed by the legislature and approved by Governor Cuomo on Friday, includes approval for the use of a design/build procedure for the renovation of the crumbling Brooklyn Queens Expressway below Brooklyn Heights. As the BHA noted:

This victory is the culmination of months of community effort, led by the BHA, to urge the legislature to enact a measure whose passage failed during the past two years. Had it not passed now, DOT would have proceeded with a Design-Bid-Build approach, which would have cost $113 million more to complete the BQE project and led to trucks being diverted onto local Brooklyn streets in 2026 due to the extended project timeframe.

The BHA thanked State Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon (whose office also advised us of the approval) for their efforts to secure passage, along with Governor Cuomo for his support. It also expressed gratitude to the local residents who demonstrated their support.

In related news, the BHA has announced that it will not appeal the New York Supreme Court’s decision to allow construction of the two residential towers near Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

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Cuomo Counsel: Ask and You Shall Receive Design/Build for BQE Fri, 09 Mar 2018 04:03:09 +0000

The Daily News reports that Alphonso David, counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a letter to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, has said that the Governor is eager to sponsor approval of a procedure called “design/build” for the needed reconstruction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway below Brooklyn Heights. Failure to provide such authorization would greatly extend the length of time to complete the project, and its expense. It could also cause the diversion of truck and other traffic to Brooklyn Heights streets.

So, what’s the problem with getting the Governor and the Legislature to approve this? According to David’s letter, it’s that the City has bundled its request for BQE design/build with design/build requests for two other projects: building new jails to replace Rikers and renovation of NYCHA housing. If each were presented individually, David wrote, the Governor would support them, and they would have a better chance of legislative approval.

Why, then does the Governor want projects, all of which he supports, presented à la carte instead of table d’hôte? For the Governor, I suspect, it’s to emphasize his and the legislature’s stranglehold on almost all city decisions, forcing the mayor and council to get state approval on virtually everything of substance. For the legislators, I believe, it’s to allow more scope for “horse trading”; e.g. “I’ll vote for your design/build on the BQE provided you vote for funding for my Waffle Iron Museum.”

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NYC DOT Engineer Says Keeping Traffic Off Brooklyn Heights Streets High Priority Thu, 08 Mar 2018 03:02:37 +0000

The Eagle’s Mary Frost has an excellent report on last week’s Brooklyn Heights Association Annual Meeting. Here are my takeaways from the meeting:

1. The featured speaker, DOT Deputy Commissioner Robert Collyer (photo) said at least twice that a primary DOT concern is keeping traffic off Brooklyn Heights streets during the BQE renovation.

2. Mr. Collyer said that DOT is considering creating alternate routes for traffic during the BQE project that wouldn’t affect the Heights or other residential areas.

3. One of the objectives of the BQE project, according to Collyer, is to “improve [vertical] clearances” on the highway. Some residents asked if this would necessitate raising the BQE roadways, thereby affecting the Promenade. Mr. Collyer said it would not, and that the preservation of the Promenade was of vital concern.

4. When asked about the proposal to create an entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park from Montague Street, the BHA took no position for or against. Mr. Collyer also remained neutral, but noted the long drop from Montague to the level of the Park and that any entrance/exit would have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

5. The BHA is considering options following the court decision allowing construction to proceed on the two high rise residential towers near Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park, including a possible appeal.

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BQE Reconstruction & “Design/Build” is Focus of Brooklyn Heights Association’s Annual Meeting This Wednesday Tue, 27 Feb 2018 05:19:31 +0000

The Brooklyn Heights Association will hold their Annual Meeting this Wednesday, February 28th from 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm at St. Francis College Founders Hall, 180 Remsen Street.  Robert Collyer, NYC Department of Transportation’s Deputy Commissioner and Chief Bridge Officer, will make a presentation on the BQE rehabilitation project with a Q&A and refreshments to follow.  The meeting is open to the public.

So what is design-build and why is it important for this project? As the BHA describes it on their detailed website, design-build would shave two years off of the desperately needed roadway rehab by skipping an intermediate bidding process and awarding the project to a single entity.  They claim that if the reconstruction of the BQE is not completed by 2026, which can only be achieved if the design-build process is utilized, then 16,000 trucks PER DAY could be re-routed through the neighborhood via Court Street (see map).

So what can you do?  1) Attend the meeting this Wednesday night to learn more.

2) Sign this petition, share it with friends via social media and email:

3) In early February, the BHA held a rally on the Promenade with local officials. They are sponsoring a trip to Albany to meet with lawmakers on March 6th.  SIGN UP HERE

4) Visit the BHA’s BQE Reconstruction Project webpage for more information on how to write to your legislators and additional info on public meetings and calls for community feedback.

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What’s Holding Up Approval Of Design/Build For The BQE? Wed, 14 Feb 2018 04:31:23 +0000

Last June we noted here that a procedure called “design/build”, in which the same contractors bid on both the design and construction aspects of a project, could greatly shorten the time necessary to do the vital reconstruction and repair work on the cantilevered portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, beneath Brooklyn Heights and the Promenade. In December we observed that, without design/build, the project could be delayed beyond a point at which it would be necessary to divert trucks from this stretch of the highway onto Brooklyn Heights streets.

The Brooklyn Heights Association has been very active in the effort to get design/build approved. Last Friday morning there was a demonstration (photo) sponsored by State Senator Brian Flanagan and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, held at the Montague Street entrance to the Promenade. Design/build will also be the principal topic of the BHA’s Annual Meeting, to be held on Wednesday, February 28 at Founders Hall, St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. Finally, the BHA has chartered a bus to take concerned residents to Albany on Tuesday, March 6, to meet with legislators whose approval is crucial to the project. Seats are limited, so you should register here as soon as possble, or call 718-858-9193. Although the BHA’s maim page on the BQE reconstruction says there is no charge for the event, the registration page linked above requires a $30 “event fee.” Perhaps this can be avoided by using the phone option.

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Vacant Retail Spaces: Why? What, If Anything, Can Be Done? Sun, 26 Nov 2017 00:38:55 +0000

You would have to have been in Brooklyn Heights for over five years to remember when the last tenant, Starbucks, moved out of 112 Montague Street (photo) to a smaller space a block away. Since then, apart from being used as storage space for Lassen & Hennigs next door, the space has lain fallow. While there are no similar long-term vacancies on Montague (well; there’s the Bossert, which is not quite vacant because of a few holdover tenants, but that’s another story), there are others not far away.

Why? Greedy landlords? Bricks-and-mortar retail is dying because of the internet? Daniel Roberts in The Bridge has examined the reasons, and finds many in addtion to those just mentioned. A tight market for financing, both for real estate and for start-up businesses is one. Complexities of property ownership–I once read of a building in, as I recall, DUMBO, that was inherited jointly by, I think, five siblings, who could never agree on what to do with it–is another. As for solutions to the problem, many have been proposed, but nothing seems to be a priority for the present city administration.

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Heights Residents May Be Eligible For Assistance Under “Zadroga Act” Tue, 21 Nov 2017 23:14:34 +0000

The Eagle reports that “health and education officials” are trying to publicize the availability of “medical treatment and financial compensation” under the Federal “Zadroga Act” for people who have suffered severe illness because of exposure to toxins following the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. There’s more information here. Although the linked NYC website says benefits are available to those who were in lower Manhattan at the time, Brooklyn Heights is also an area considered to have been affected.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Library of Congress.

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Vote Tomorrow! Mon, 06 Nov 2017 15:31:40 +0000

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 7, is election day for city offices, including Mayor, Comptroller, Public Advocate, and City Council, for State Senator, and for Borough President and Kings County District Attorney.. Also on the ballot are three statewide propositions: (1) whether to have a Constitutional Convention to revise and amend the New York State Constitution; (2); whether to allow complete or partial forfeiture of public pensions of public officers convicted of certain felonies; and (3) whether to authorize use of forest preserve lands by towns for specific purposes in exchange for the creation of an equal amount of new forest preserve. By entering your address at this website, you can see who is on the ballot in your location for each office, with further links to the candidates’ own websites and other sources of information. It will also give you the location of your polling place.

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Mayor de Blasio Announces Makeover of Cadman Plaza Park, End of Saturday Work at Former Library Site Thu, 19 Oct 2017 05:04:31 +0000

At Mayor de Blasio’s Town Hall at St. Francis College this (Wednesday) evening, he announced that $6 million has been appropriated to renovate the northern end of Cadman Plaza Park, which he said he was surprised to learn had not been touched, apart from routine maintenance, since the late 1950s. Among the improvements will be water fountains.

A local resident complained of the noise on Saturdays from permitted work on the former site of the Brooklyn Heights branch library, now to become a high rise residential and commercial tower with a new library in its ground floor and basement. The Mayor called on a representative of the City’s Buildings Department, who announced that the permit for Saturday work is ending immediately.

Asked by local resident Toba Potosky about the prospects for the BQX or “Brooklyn-Queens Connector,” the proposed streetcar line connecting Sunset Park, Brooklyn to Astoria, Queens, mostly along or near the waterfront but with a likely detour around Brooklyn Heights and through Downtown Brooklyn, the Mayor said he is enthusiastic about the project, but said it was not likely to begin to be built before 2020.

In response to another question from a local resident about “materials” for the new library, the Mayor noted that much material was now available on line, and that libraries are improving their facilities to allow access by the public to these on line resources. City Council Member Stephen Levin, who acted as moderator for the event, added that the new Brooklyn Heights branch library will have more shelf space for books than the old library, and that “we are not giving up on the book.”

While there was enthusiastic response to the Mayor’s confirmation that the “Pop-Up Pool” in Brooklyn Bridge Park will remain open for one more summer next year, an audience member asked about the possibility of replacing it with a “floating pool,” perhaps along the lines of the barge-borne Floating Pool Lady that was docked to Pier 5 in 2007. Te Mayor said this is under consideration, but called on a city official who said that “legal issues” need to be resolved.

The Mayor spoke about other borough and city-wide issues, including “3-K,” which will provide free, day long pre-school for all kids age three through kindergarten, improved police training and community involvement, and, in response to a question from a St. Francis student, New York City’s efforts, along with those of some 300 other U.S. cities, to exceed the requirements of the Paris climate accord.

Photo: Claude Scales for BHB.

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Town Hall with Mayor de Blasio at St. Francis Wednesday, October 18 Tue, 10 Oct 2017 19:35:58 +0000

Our friends at Community Board 2 have advised us that Mayor Bill de Blasio will be at St. Francis College, Founders Hall, 180 Remsen Street, on Wednesday evening, October 18, for a Town Hall to which all are invited. Admission is free. The event begins at 6:00; doors will open at 5:30 and close at 6:30. The Town Hall is presented by City Council Member Stephen T. Levin. If you want to attend, please RSVP by Monday, October 16 at this website, e-mail to or phone 212-788-7929. Space is limited.

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Participatory Budgeting Meeting at St. Francis College Tuesday Evening, September 26 Tue, 26 Sep 2017 02:22:51 +0000

Sorry for the late notice. City Council Member Steven Levin (photo) has advised us that there will be a Participatory Budgeting meeting at St, Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, on Tuesday evening, September 26 starting at 7:00. Levin has a kitty of money to spend on projects in his district, which includes Brooklyn Heights and nearby areas. The purpose of the meeting is for you to let him know what you’d like some of this money used for. If you want to attend, you may RSVP, but you may also just show up. If you can’t make it, you may submit a suggestion for a project that needs funding here. There’s a list of past funded projects here. If you have any questions you may contact Benjamin at or 718-875-5200.

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Kavanagh Named Democratic Nominee To Succeed Squadron Tue, 19 Sep 2017 04:06:52 +0000

Kings County Politics reports that Brooklyn Democratic Party leader Frank Seddio announced support for State Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh to be the Democratic candidate for the New York State Senate seat vacated by the resignation of Daniel Squadron. That now vacant seat will be filled after a special election to be held on November 7, coinciding with the regular election for mayor and other citywide offices. It is not known now if Kavanagh will face a Republican opponent, or any other candidate.

Kavanagh’s candidacy has drawn support from incumbent Democrats, including Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, Borough President Adams, and State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, whose district includes Brooklyn Heights. Your correspondent saw Ms. Simon yesterday at the Montague Street “Sunday Social”. She said that she and other local Democrats had advocated naming as the candidate in the special election someone who would agree to serve out Squadron’s unexpired term but not be a candidate in the primary election to select the Democratic candidate in the next general election, and thereby would not have the advantage of incumbency. Nevertheless, she said, she was happy with the choice of Kavanagh, who has experience as a state legislator and is in accord with her progressive beliefs.

Nevertheless, the selection of Kavanagh has drawn strong opposition from some Democrats. As also reported by Kings County Politics, the New Kings Democrats have protested the selection of Kavanagh as undemocratic, given that he decisively lost (72-28) a vote by the New York County (Manhattan) Democratic Committee, to Lower Manhattan District Leader Paul Newell.

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Squadron Resigning From New York Senate Wed, 09 Aug 2017 12:49:04 +0000

In an opinion column in today’s Daily News State Senator Daniel Squadron, whose district includes Brooklyn Heights along with Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens (where he resides with his wife and children) and much of lower Manhattan, announced his resignation from the New York Senate, where he has served since 2009. His resignation is effective this Friday, August 11. His replacement will be elected this November; meanwhile, he said, the balance between his party, the Democrats, and the GOP in the Senate will not be affected.

His decision came because of his frustration with “structural barriers, including ‘three men in a room’ decisionmaking, loophole-riddled campaign finance rules and a governor-controlled budget process.” While he called New York “a particularly seedy example” of government overwhelmed by moneyed interests and a culture of corruption, he noted that other states have similar problems. Following his resignation, he plans to join with entrepreneur Adam Pritzker and Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University to “launch a national effort focused on addressing this crisis — joining others already doing important work toward 2018 and beyond.”

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NYC DOT Seeks Public Comments, Suggestions Concerning BQE Repairs Tue, 11 Jul 2017 02:29:48 +0000

We noted earlier that the New York State Legislature, which has an unfortunate stranglehold on many matters affecting New York City alone, in its recent session failed to pass the legislation required to expedite the urgently needed work to repair the cantilevered portion of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway that runs below Brooklyn Heights and the Promenade. We now have word, thanks to the Brooklyn Heights Association, that the New York City Department of Transportation has invited members of the public to comment or offer suggestions concerning the project during the approximately eighteen months that DOT will undertake a public planning process for the BQE repairs. Comments, questions, or suggestions may be sent to or by phone to 212-839-6304.

The possibility remains open that the “Design/Build” option, which would greatly expedite and reduce the cost of the project, will be approved in the next legislative session.

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Thanks to Albany BQE Repairs May be Stalled; Made More Difficult Thu, 29 Jun 2017 03:16:27 +0000

The cantilevered portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, below Brooklyn Heights and the Promenade, is in need of critical repairs. Concrete has eroded, exposing rusting metal reinforcements. The job will take years, and will require closure of at least parts of the BQE for long periods. Last year a City Department of Transportation Official told a community meeting that the work could be done without diverting significant amounts of traffic to Brooklyn Heights streets. Still, there may be other disruptions, including closing of portions of the Promenade.

The duration of the project could be shortened, and its onset brought forward, by a technique called “Design/Build” in which joint bids are solicited from designers and construction firms, who must collaborate on their bids and, if successful, proceed on agreed upon terms. When design and construction bids are made and awarded separately, it often results in misunderstandings between designer and builder or repairer, leading to delays and sometimes litigation. Since the BQE repair is under New York State jurisdiction, approval to use Design/Build must come from the State.

Unfortunately, the State Legislature adjourned without approving Design/Build for the BQE. As State Senator Daniel Squadron noted in his newsletter: “The budget failed to allow design-build for the BQE reconstruction, a failure that could add years to this difficult project.”

The Brooklyn Heights Association has made a strong statement on this issue, concluding:

Despite the failure to get the bill passed during the recent session, the BHA will continue to prominently advocate for this legislation when the legislature reconvenes. The stakes are too high for Brooklyn Heights and the entire borough to not press our case. NYCDOT estimates that design build will shorten the projected 5 year construction period of the BQE Rehabilitation Project, thereby reducing the duration of environmental impacts on the Heights community, and save city taxpayers $113.4 million. These savings can then be used on other critical infrastructure projects in New York City to further improve the quality of our lives.

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Cuomo Makes Brooklyn Heights Resident Joseph Lhota MTA Chair Fri, 23 Jun 2017 19:50:23 +0000

The Eagle reports that Governor Cuomo has named Heights resident Joseph Lhota to serve as chair of the MTA. Lhota previously served as the MTA’s chief executive, and is credited with leading the agency’s quick response to the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. He later ran unsuccessfully as the GOP candidate for for Mayor, losing to Bill De Blasio.

In his new role, Lhota will serve as a non-executive chair, with a one dollar a year salary. He will retain his position as senior vice president, vice dean and chief of staff at NYU Langone Medical Center. Lhota will be engaged in the search for a new CEO for the MTA, and will be active in planning strategy for dealing with the system’s extensive problems.

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Know a Spot, or Two, That Needs a Litter Can? Tell Council Member Steve Levin Tue, 20 Jun 2017 03:12:03 +0000

In his “Word on the 33rd” e-blast today, City Council Member Stephen Levin has this message for constituents:

We all need to do our part to keep our community clean. Everyone one of us should be able to take pride in the streets and sidewalks that are extensions of our homes and workplaces. To this end, I’m asking the community for suggestions on areas of the community that could use some extra attention.

If you know a spot, or up to three spots, that could use extra litter baskets, please submit them here.

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Senator Squadron Community Convention This Sunday Sat, 22 Apr 2017 04:30:39 +0000

Consituents are invited to join State Senator Daniel Squadron and the 26th Annual Senate District Community Convention this Sunday, April 23rd from 2:00 – 5:00 pm at Stuyvesant High School, 345 Chambers Street in Manhattan.

This years theme is Making the National Fight Local. Per a source from the Senator’s office, “the event will include a number of open conversation topics — from Government in Crisis, Safeguarding Progress, Protecting the Environment and Parks to Saving Healthcare.”

RSVP online via webform or call 212-298-5565.

Squadron 2017 Community Convention flyer (1) (1) (1) (1)

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Eric Landau Nominated for Brooklyn Bridge Park Presidency Wed, 05 Apr 2017 03:25:58 +0000

The Eagle reports that Mayor de Blasio has nominated Eric Landau, who presently serves as deputy commissioner of public affairs and communications at the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, to be the new president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation. Before taking his post at DEP, Landau was vice president of government and external affairs and special assistant to the president of the Prospect Park Alliance. If confirmed, Landau will assume the presidency as Brooklyn Bridge Park is undergoing its last stages of construction (photo: Pier 3). He will also inherit the controversy over the need for two high rise residential buildings on the Pier 6 uplands to provide revenue for future park maintenance.

According to the Eagle story, Landau is “[a]n advocate of environmental issues, open space and community voices, [who] also has experience in government and urban park planning.”

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It’s Participatory Budget Time Again-Vote for Worthy Community Projects in D33 Sat, 25 Mar 2017 05:49:26 +0000

It’s Participatory Budgeting (or PB) time again and City Councilmember Steve Levin has “dedicated 1.5 million dollars to capital projects [in District 33] suggested and developed by community volunteers and you can help decide which ones get funded.”  Of the many proposals up for a vote are lockers for thirteen classrooms at M.S. 8 for a cost of $115,000.  The middle school currently has no lockers for the 6th through 8th students’ books and belongings.

Others proposed projects include repair of a Williamsburg toddler playground ($500,000), technology upgrades for two special needs schools ($250,000) in Bed-Stuy and Downtown Brooklyn and and STEAM and STEM labs for two schools in Williamsburg ($218,000 and $250,000 respectively) among others.  The full list can be found HERE.

District 33 residents 14 and over are able to vote online starting midnight on Saturday March 25th. Ballots may also be cast in person at several Brooklyn Heights sites (below) and others across the district found HERE.

P.S. 8 Robert Fulton School
37 Hicks Street
Monday, March 27th and Friday, March 31st
8:00AM – 10:00AM

Brooklyn Heights Library
109 Remsen Street
Tuesday March 28th
1:00PM – 3:00PM
Saturday, April 1st

Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon Street, Borough Hall Plaza
Monday, March 27th – Friday, March 31st
9:00AM – 5:00PM

Brooklyn Borough Hall Greenmarket
209 Joralemon Street, Borough Hall Plaza
Tuesday, March 28th and Thursday, March 30th
8:00AM – 10:00AM

Want to volunteer to help with the process? Have questions? Contact Benjamin Solotaire at 718 875 5200 or

EDIT: The cost of the MS8 lockers has been corrected from $150,000 to $115,000.

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