Levin gives support as well
By Claude Scales
Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Save The View Now Co-Founder Steven Guterman told a group of about 100 people who attended Tuesday evening’s Town Hall Meeting at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue that he is optimistic about the prospects of the litigation underway against the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC), the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the City of New York and Toll Brothers, developers of the Pierhouse structure that is partially blocking views from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and other locations. Nevertheless, he thinks it is essential to bring as much public pressure as possible on Mayor Bill de Blasio, who controls the BBPC, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who controls the ESDC.
This view was seconded by City Councilmember Stephen Levin, who noted that the BBPC, on the board of directors for which he serves, “is not the most transparent public body.” He ascribed this to the BBPC’s unique structure as “a not-for-profit quasi city agency” which is not subject to the rules governing other arms of city government such as the requirement that development projects be subject to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). Referring to Guterman’s earlier discussion of how the development of Pierhouse complex had violated several agreements concerning the buildings’ height and length, Levin said, “When agreements are broken, they always seem to go toward more buildings and more money being made.”
Guterman pointed out that the mayor controls the BBPC by appointing nine members of its board, including its chair, currently Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alicia Glen. The city thereby has the power to set the agenda for each board meeting. Brooklyn Heights resident Tony Manheim, regarded as the person most responsible for developing and championing the idea of Brooklyn Bridge Park, said this level of city control over BBPCshould be sufficient to make it subject to ULURP.
Lori Schomp, a principal of People for Green Space, which commenced litigation againstBBPC last year to try to prevent the construction of two high-rise residential buildings near the Atlantic Avenue entrance to the park, said the settlement recently announced in that litigation should result in much greater transparency of, and public involvement in, the BBPC’s decision making process.
With regard to Save The View’s Pierhouse litigation, Guterman called on attorney Jennifer Donaker, who noted that the issue before the court now is whether to grant a preliminary injunction that would keep things in place concerning Pierhouse construction, pending the court’s decision on Save The View’s requests for declaratory judgments. The judgments sought are declarations that the northern portion of the Pierhouse (“Parcel A”) is subject to a height limit of 100 feet, inclusive of mechanicals and measured from the sidewalk, and that the southern portion (“Parcel B”) is subject to a 55-foot height limit, with the same parameters.
Asked whether success in getting the requested declaratory judgment could result in part of the Parcel A building being demolished, Guterman said it could.
At the close, Guterman urged those present to contact the mayor and governor through their websites or by phone and urge them to require BBPC and the developers to abide by the height limits set forth in the applicable agreements. Heights resident Lillie Debevoise suggested that Save The View canvass people using Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, many of whom will be from other parts of Brooklyn, the city, the nation and the world.
Guterman said Save The View Now had received contributions from over 100 donors, but declined to specify the amount received. He said he thought it would be a tactic of the defendants, who have very deep pockets, to “crush” Save The View with legal expenses, and did not want to give them a target at which to shoot. He said Save The View had been able to meet its expenses, but encouraged those sympathetic to its cause to donate.