Brooklyn Bridge Park housing deal set
by Lisa A. Fraser
Aug 09, 2011 | 558 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A deal between city and state officials to include limited private housing at the Brooklyn Bridge Park has been reached.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman Joan Millman and Councilmembers Brad Lander and Steve Levin announced the agreement on Tuesday, August 4 that would essentially make way to allow the park to reach its maximum 85-acre area.

The agreement also finalizes a plan to ensure that a long-term revenue stream is in place to pay for the park’s annual maintenance of $16 million, while allowing the next phases of construction to move forward.

“For years, I've been working to change the Brooklyn Bridge Park plan because I disagreed with the proposal for housing in the park and believed that we needed more amenities and a stronger guarantee that the park would be completed,” Squadron said in a statement.

Lauding the deal, which reduces housing in the park, Squadron called it a win for Brooklyn and all of New York City.

“Before investing further city capital to build out the park, it was critical that we come to an agreement on a long-term funding plan for its maintenance so the park would be self-sustaining,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement.

The agreement requires a commitment of $55 million in city capital funds to move forward with construction of Pier 2’s active recreational amenities while also allowing at least one building, near John Street, to go forward, although it would be substantially reduced in size.

It ensures the adoption of recommended alternative revenue sources including increased concessions, events, recreation fees and institution of parking fees for a total annual revenue of $750,000.

The deal also made way for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society properties around the park to be sold and rezoned as residential if the Watchtower, also known as the Jehovah Witnesses, proceed to move upstate and sell their property.

“By reducing housing and requiring Watchtower and other alternatives to be used, we have dramatically changed the plan,” Squadron said. “We found a path to complete Brooklyn Bridge Park and address long-standing community concerns.”

But not everyone agrees with him. Opponents of housing at the park, such as the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund criticize Squadron for following through on the plan, stating that his achievements are only half cooked and that other alternatives besides housing should be considered to uphold the operating cost.

But Bloomberg and city officials believe that housing is the only way that the park can sustain itself, bringing in a steady stream of money.

The agreement also won amenities for the park including a temporary pool for five summers; RFPs for Pier 5 seasonal recreation ‘bubble’ and an ice skating rink concession; tennis courts and 2,200 square feet of community space located in a future operations building.

When completed, the $360 million park will stretch from Atlantic Avenue to Jay Street, north of the Manhattan Bridge. The City and Port Authority have already spent or committed $237 million on park construction at Piers 1, 5 and 6.

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