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Put Lid On Development, Say Pols

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A gang of six politicians is calling on the Brooklyn Bridge Park developers to avow a legal mechanism to minimize development in the park, even as they laud them for meeting most of their concerns about the physical appearance of the park. The politicians met with the Brooklyn Bridge Development Corporation (BBPDC) in December and raised concerns about the scale, size and amount of development in the park. The politicians say the BBPDC incorporated their input into the plans—but not a legal framework guaranteeing maximum protection of recreational areas and green space. “We had hoped to work out some of our concerns with the Empire State Development Corporation and the Brooklyn Bridge Development Corporation, but their final proposal has some serous flaws in it,” said Evan Thies, spokesperson for City Councilmember David Yassky. The politicians also say they want to pursue state legislation to outline the structure of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s governing entity. Other proposed changes to the General Project Plan (GPP) would include reducing a 30-story tower to a 20-story tower, and widening the park entrance at Atlantic Avenue. The GPP is a legal document that sets the outer limits of development. “It has not guaranteed the least amount of residential development to pay the maintenance costs for the park,” said Thies. “That is something that is extremely important to residents in the surrounding community.” In particular, the politicians view housing as a cheap fix to funding problems—one that might tempt park planners to overbuild. “Inclusion of housing in the park plan is perceived as the proverbial blank check or in other words, need more cash, add more housing,” states a letter sent to the development corporation Jan. 18, which is signed by Borough President Marty Markowitz, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, State Senator Martin Connor, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, and Councilmembers David Yassky and Bill de Blasio. This group includes all the state and local politicians with direct jurisdiction in the area. The letter calls for legal guarantees to maximize the income on the fewest number of dwelling units, and to ensure the GPP contains incentives to find revenue resources outside the park to reduce the need for development within it. The letter acknowledges that the BBPDC is still exploring legal mechanisms for protecting undeveloped land in the park. The ESDC did not respond to calls for comment in time for publication. Under the politicians’ proposals, the GPP would effectively become the worst-case scenario, and only enough development to meet maintenance budget would be included. “The objective of this letter was to work toward minimizing the amount of development to pay for the park while still maintaining a self-sufficient park,” said Greg Atkins, chief of staff for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “We are looking forward to work with Brooklyn Bridge Development Corporation to achieve those goals.”

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