On the Record
Representing this unique, and uniquely vulnerable, neighborhood demands that we take a firm and well-supported stand on a broad range of issues. Our judgments are based on careful study by the land-use lawyers, architects, planners and public advocates on our Board – all Heights residents – and on input from you, our members. Look here regularly for our positions on the issues affecting Brooklyn Heights, as well as other documents reflecting those positions. Most are intended to be read aloud or submitted in writing at municipal, state and local hearings. Reading them will give you a good idea of the issues facing our community.
BHA Addresses BQE Cantilever Roadway Surface Condition
People living on any street bordering the BQE experience violent jolts and tremors caused by vibrations which travel up through the foundations of their homes. This - with the accompanying crashing noises caused by big trucks passing over the defects in the road's surface - has reached an intolerable level.
The road takes a daily beating from trucks it was never intended to carry, making it more difficult -- and more essential -- to maintain a smooth surface on the cantilever. In response to residents' alarm and genuine concern for the structural safety of the neighboring buildings, the BHA has requested help from NYC DOT Borough Commissioner Joseph Palmieri.
From long experience with past remedies (and these are considered "band aids" compared to the eventual reconstruction that will be necessary), the BHA has learned that what does work for at least a period of several years, is to mill through the top layer down to the concrete deck surface and repave with layers of asphalt. This type of work is the responsibility of the NYC DOT, charged with maintaining only the cantilever portion of this State roadway, and it was last done in 2001. We've asked that it be done again.
To read our letter to Commissioner Palmieri, click here. 6/28/13
BHA Update Re Bike Share Program Installations
The BHA Board has generally been very supportive of the Bike Share program, as we hope that it will reduce automobile congestion and pollution and expand sustainable transportation. And it is evident from last year’s survey of the community and comments on the Brooklyn Heights Blog and elsewhere that many people in the community support the Bike Share program. So we are pleased that the program rollout is underway.
As we have said in the past, we expect DOT to monitor the program carefully and be prepared to intervene quickly when adjustments are warranted in the event of any problems with stations.
We also asked DOT to take certain actions when placing bike stations in Brooklyn Heights, including:
• Avoid stations on fully residential streets/blocks.
• Avoid creating sidewalk and building entrance obstructions as well as complications for trash and snow removal.
• Remember that residents have a reasonable expectation of direct access from the street to the sidewalk in front of their destination.
• Place stations in front of blank walls or on open plazas whenever preferable.
We are now hearing from our neighbors about the placement of certain bike stations, in particular the sites on Remsen and Clinton Streets, which do not meet these standards. Further, we have been informed by several people that DOT may not have contacted owners of buildings fronting bike stations. DOT had assured the BHA that they would do so.
We are working with our members who have called us with concerns. We are in touch with DOT about specific concerns and plan to deliver a summary report on community feedback during the summer. We expect DOT to be responsive to the concerns of the community.
We also suggest that members call or email Community Board 2 (718)-596-5410, email: firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as 311 with their concerns about the program.
We appreciate DOT’s responsiveness to our concerns with the Bike Share program in the past, and we look forward to working with the Department of Transportation in addressing the many concerns of Brooklyn Heights residents with regard to these Bike Share station locations. 4/19/13
BHA Statement on the Redevelopment Plan for Pier 17
The BHA is concerned that noise from the open air performance spaces planned for the redeveloped Pier 17 will disturb residents of Brooklyn Heights and visitors to Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Promenade. Noise standards are hard to enforce after the fact, so we would like to see preventive measures taken.
The BHA urges the New York City Council and its subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises to include measures for noise abatement from the proposed new South Street Seaport, particularly the open air venue now planned for the roof of Pier 17. These measures might include barriers to dampen the sound, increasing the height of perimeter walls, limits on speaker size and direction, enclosure of the performance space, and limitations on hours of use and hours in which amplification may be used.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
As the Park Debuts, the BHA Endorses Plan for NYC Control
After all these years, we can hardly contain our excitement that the first phase of Brooklyn Bridge Park is opening. Having been involved since the idea was first floated (in response to a proposed high-rise development scheme on the piers), the BHA has advocated, planned, pleaded, and negotiated for more than 20 years to see the Park come to life. And now it's here.
It's been a long and winding road to this point, and the journey isn't over yet. But through multiple iterations of plans – each becoming more realistic and achievable – BHA members and governors have helped move the Park forward. In 2006, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation adopted a General Project Plan (“GPP”) for the Park after one of the most comprehensive public planning endeavors the City has ever seen. Over ten years, hundreds, if not thousands, of residents participated in multiple public planning forums. While the GPP cannot possibly meet the needs and desires of everyone who participated, it includes a wonderful balance of active and passive recreation, unique access to the water, sustainable design and spectacular landscaping and views. It is already receiving rave reviews in the press.
March 10 Update: The City and State took a critical step towards Park governance on March 10, 2010, when they announced that the City will take control of and is committed to completing the Park. A new nonprofit operating entity controlled by the City will assume responsibility for the planning, construction, maintenance and operation of the Park. (See links below for detailed information.)
The City and State also took other important steps for which we have long advocated. First, the Park’s green spaces will be permanently and legally designated as park land, protecting it from future development. A transparent process, including public hearings, will be established to assure that only the minimum amount of development necessary to fund the Park’s maintenance and operations is undertaken. And finally, the City has committed to exploring the possibility of a seasonal ice rink and the return of a floating swimming pool.
We want to see the Park completed promptly. While we share a desire to limit the income-generating development to the smallest footprint necessary to fund the park, we do not want construction halted or even slowed. We want our Park now!
Check back here for updates on BHA positions on evolving Park issues.
Get more info:
At a recent meeting, hosted by State Senator Squadron, City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe announced Mayor Bloomberg's commitment to completing Brooklyn Bridge Park and plan to assume control from the State. The BHA registered its strong endorsement of this plan in a letter to Commissioner Benepe:
BHA Letter to Adrian Benepe on City Control of BBP
A broad summary of the BHA's positions on Park issues through the years can be found in this key document from 2005:
BHA Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Development of Brooklyn Bridge Park
Atlantic Yards Challenge
BHA Joins a Lawsuit Against the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and Forest City Ratner Corporation (FCRC)
In November the BHA joined Brooklyn Speaks, a coalition of community groups and local elected officials, to challenge the ESDC’s approval of the Atlantic Yards Modified General Project Plan. The suit contends that the plan was approved without sufficient study of the impacts of its extended construction schedule and completion risks. It also alleges that the ESDC has illegally delegated to FCRC much of its governmental power to determine the future content and configuration of the Project.
Helicopter Noise and Safety
A Growing Issue in the Heights and Surrounding Communities
Increasing helicopter traffic over Brooklyn Heights — and more to come in the near future — has become a significant issue for many residents. The BHA is actively addressing this quality-of-life issue by first marshaling the facts and then establishing a plan of action to organize our response. This is shaping up as a significant challenge for 2010.
Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street
There is no other current or planned infrastructure project that will affect Brooklyn Heights more than the rehabilitation of the BQE scheduled to begin in 2015. The neighborhood abuts the BQE for most of the length of the proposed project, the Promenade is an integral part of the cantilever portion of I-278 within the project boundaries, and the emerging Brooklyn Bridge Park is in the middle of all of it. For all these reasons, the BHA has begun to organize the community’s response and represent its interests as this critical project moves forward.
New York State DOT Nixes Residential Takings in Brooklyn Heights (6/24/10)
At the 7th Stakeholder Advisory Committee Meeting on Wed., June 23 the New York State Department of Transportation announced that any proposals for rehabilitation of the BQE that would involve residential property takings are definitively off the table and would not advance to the next stages of
The Stakeholder Committee, local residents, and representatives of local elected officials breathed a collective sigh of relief as the specter of eminent domain was lifted from the neighborhood. The DOT and its consultants presented additional alternatives, including several versions of a tunnel option. They are also planning a NEPA/EIS meeting where the environmental requirements and the steps toward an environmental impact statement will be explained in detail. Several members of the Stakeholder Committee suggested a design charette to brainstorm alternatives which the DOT agreed was a great idea and will facilitate during the summer.
Get more info:
A PDF version of the DOT's slide presentation is available here.
BQE REHAB UPDATE: SOME PERSPECTIVE ON THE PROCESS (6/14/10)
A Message from BHA President Jane McGroarty
As part of NYS Department of Transportation’s study to rehabilitate the triple Cantilever portion of I-278, the DOT is taking a preliminary look at a number of options that include repairing, reconstructing or relocating the highway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street. At the last Stakeholder Advisory Committee Meeting on May 26th, the consultant and the State presented some initial sketches: (a) keeping the existing highway alignment with very minor changes, (b) keeping the existing alignment and fully compliant with DOT roadway design criteria; and (c) a tunnel alignment.
Because Proposal (b) was fully compliant, it was an exercise in seeing what might happen if the project were not constrained by existing structures, parkland, etc. Several audience members misunderstood the investigative nature of the presentation and became concerned that NYSDOT was preparing to seize their properties as part of the project. In the era of the 24-hour news cycle, the story picked up momentum by the media and was blown out of proportion.
As one of the member groups of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee, the BHA would oppose any taking of residential property in our Historic District. We do not believe that NYSDOT would seriously consider a solution that would take private property but we also understand that as part of any initial design process, engineers examine many alternatives in order to learn about the constraints, complexities and opportunities in each potential solution.
Many citizens and elected officials, in the past, have criticized NYS DOT because it had ignored citizen input on proposed projects. In this project and others, the State has subscribed to an open process that includes the participation of citizens and community groups. All proposed alternatives will be screened using the evaluation criteria – and property taking is one important aspect of the criteria. This is a long, complicated project with plenty of opportunity for public input.
In this kerfuffle the NYS DOT was a victim of technology. In the past, architects and engineers used yellow tracing paper to show a design in process; it made clients understand that things could be changed. Today digital design make schemes “look” fully realized when they are simply sketches.
SCREENING PROCESS UPDATE (2/1/10)
The New York State Department of Transportation has begun the process of the reconstruction/replacement of Interstate 278 (BQE) between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street. The first phase (Tier 1) has begun and will establish the project scope and assess as many alternatives as possible. When the Tier 1 EIS is complete (approximately 2012), one or more preferred alternatives will have been selected and the project moves to Tier 2, in which the preferred alternative/s will be analyzed in depth in a second EIS, planned to be completed in 2015. Final design and engineering may take several years so construction will not begin until 2017.
A Stakeholder Advisory Committee has been formed composed of representatives from neighborhood and civic associations, businesses and others. The Brooklyn Heights Association is a member and will keep its membership informed of the progress of the project as well as solicit input at various times. See the DOT's "Level 1 Screening Criteria" below for more information, and go to the New York State DOT website for a full review of the project.
Comments about the screening criteria can be submitted to the BHA or directly to NYS DOT (through its website below).