Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dock Street Sides (Even the Roeblings) Get Ready for Thursday's Hearing

The City Council's Land Use hearing on the contentious Dock Street project takes place this Thursday, and those both for and against the idea of a large development (shown above) very near the Brooklyn Bridge are loading their cannons.

While the major issue is the diminishing of views of and from the historic Brooklyn Bridge, too much attention is being paid to the developer's distracting sideshow -- space for the small (300 seat) middle school he promises to give to the city if they let him build next to the bridge.

Two Trees has used locals' hunger for a middle school to build support for the project among desperate parents. The School Construction Authority (SCA), until the offer by Two Trees, was unresponsive to the needs of the growing Brooklyn Heights/Dumbo community.

Against: Documents made public by the SCA after a freedom of information request by Councilman David Yassky indicate that the agency decided to let developer Two Trees include the middle school in the 18-story apartment tower without considering alternate sites proposed by neighborhood groups and Councillman David Yassky.

As the NY Post put it, "the fix was in."

A report in the Brooklyn Paper said that in deciding on a site for a middle school in the Brooklyn Heights/Dumbo area, "the School Construction Authority has only looked at two alternatives: P.S. 8 and the former police precinct on Poplar Street."

For: Dennis Holt, commentator from the Brooklyn Eagle, has recently come up with other documents from the SCA that he says refute the claims that the SCA didn't really try very hard to scout out other sites.

Holt says that documents submitted to the community board on Dec. 1 show an analysis of three alternative sites studied by the SCA. These sites include P.S. 8 and the former police precinct on Poplar Street, plus the former Jehovah’s Witnesses industrial building at 360 Furman St. in Brooklyn Bridge Park. (The last was thrown out because the state and city forbid building a school in the park.)

The "most compelling attribute of the Dock Street project," the SCA said in those documents, is "that it will provide a core and shell structure for a school at minimal financial cost to the public."

Yassky: The Brooklyn Heights Blog reports that Councilman Yassky, speaking at a recent blogger's breakfast, said, “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.”

Roebling Rolls Over in Grave: More than a dozen high-profile local and national preservation groups have made statements of vigorous opposition to a building project “that will forever alter New York’s legendary landscape,” according to Doreen Gallo, Dumbo Neighborhood Alliance executive vice president. One of those opposed is Kristian Roebling, a direct descendant and spokesperson for the descendants of Brooklyn Bridge designer John A. Roebling, reports the Brooklyn Eagle.

Others are historian David McCullough, filmmaker Ken Burns, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Municipal Art Society of New York, the Roebling Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology, Historic Districts Council, The Society for the Architecture of the City, and a lot of movie stars.

The Hearing: While a new middle school is certainly needed in the area, the issue of an oversized building that close to the iconic Brooklyn Bridge is an issue that needs to be considered separately from the need for a school.

The Brooklyn Bridge is not just a way to get to Manhattan. It's a part of New York City's history, too important to let the wishes one one developer, however successful, alter forever.

The hearing takes place Thursday, May 21, at 10 a.m., City Council Chamber, City Hall, 260 Broadway. All are encouraged to attend.

- School 'Not Allowed' in Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Dumbo Dock Street Public Hearing Tonight (past)
- Put Middle School in Brooklyn Heights' P.S. 8, Says Yassky

Image courtesy of Two Trees Management

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1 comment:

epc said...

I put together a Google Earth model of the development from the latest specs I was able to get. It can be found at

Note that I'm against the project, but I believe the model is representative of the project.