Columnist, Sam Howe recently penned his response to a Letter to the Editor regarding his Howe’s Brooklyn editorial on housing plans at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6.
Read Sam’s response below:
No, actually the BHA was right. While I cannot speak officially for the BHA, they usually fight the idea of something that might be negatively precedent-setting. I would bet they never opposed St. Ann’s Warehouse, per se, but instead fought the process by which the space was grabbed.
And the BHA actually won, on behalf of a wider constituency. New York State had to give BBP another parcel farther north as a trade for the parcel given to the Warehouse. Because of that just compensation, BBP now has the Education Center, bathrooms and more beautiful gardens under Manhattan Bridge.
AND WHILE I’M ON THE SUBJECT: because of the great efforts to fight the proposed citywide meat market on the Empire Stores site during Lindsay administration, and the subsequent effort to make Fulton Ferry a landmark district, the BHA and its well-educated lawyer volunteers actually paved the way for there to be a DUMBO and a Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Try to focus on this: if the BHA had not meddled in the 1970s, led by Otis Pearsall and Scott Hand, there would be no DUMBO today, and most likely no BBP either.
And in case you missed it, here is Henrik Krogius’ Letter to the Editor:
To the Editor:
I was startled by the nasty and insinuating tone of the March 24 “Howe’s Brooklyn” column in the Brooklyn Heights Press. The editors seem to have bought into the outrageous and personally motivated campaign, including by current leadership of the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA), against the Pier 6 housing. To descend to such comments as “de Dumb, de Dubious, and de Grading” about Mayor de Blasio’s insistence that the housing not be limited exclusively to the very rich ill becomes the once respected character of the Heights Press.
A necessary reminder: the currently proposed building envelopes fit within those agreed to way back in 2005; even with the inclusion of the affordable element they will be no bigger. To maintain that “it is nuts to create affordable, subsidized housing on a footprint that is, by its very definition, supposed to yield maximum revenue for the park” ignores the genius that has made it possible to achieve the original aim and at the same time to further the desirable social goal of preserving some diversity in an increasingly fractured society. Sam Howe and friends should be applauding this, not casting brickbats.
Let us also remember that the BHA has not always been on the side of the angels. Years ago, for one example, it sought to block the residential conversion of what became DUMBO, and more recently it waged a disgraceful campaign against the conversion of the Tobacco Warehouse into a theater for St. Ann’s Warehouse, a campaign that entailed needless costs for all parties before it was defeated. Even now, the BHA, under new directorship, has departed from the more responsible position taken by its previous leadership. It has embraced financial analyses by self-interested parties to maintain that the Pier 6 housing will not be needed, in contradiction to well-established criteria establishing such need. That RAL is beginning to face serious concern about financing should not be dismissed as “RAL’s desperate lobbying efforts to do this project.” There is an unfortunate head-in-the-sand wishfulness that marks the opposition to the housing.
Brooklyn Bridge Park will get built out, regardless of the housing. But it will be too bad if future generations have to scramble to cover the park maintenance, and to keep it from falling into disrepair, because the mechanism to assure its long-term upkeep was shortsightedly blocked.
Henrik Krogius is an Emmy-award winning news producer and served as editor of the Brooklyn Heights Press for 22 years. He is the author of several books, including “The Brooklyn Heights Promenade” (History Press, Charleston SC, 2011).