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Development at Brooklyn Bridge Park continues despite local dispute

Residents in and around Brooklyn Heights voiced their frustration with city officials who are moving along with housing plans for Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Residents in and around Brooklyn Heights gathered on Wednesday afternoon to voice their frustration with city officials who are moving along with a plan erect two new apartment buildings in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The city floated 14 newly released designs for two currently empty lots on the park's Pier 6, spaces that officials argue were never intended for green space and can grow affordable housing stock. Meanwhile, residents argue the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation that maintains the park is ignoring their concerns.

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"We want the conversation to focus on the park and its visitors — now and in the future — and we don't think that's happening," said Lori Schomp, 32, who said she moved into a townhouse near the pier in 2013.

Schomp launched an online petition in early May to protest the development, gathering more than 3,300 signatures and comments that she said she wants Mayor Bill de Blasio and other leaders to read over.

On Friday, elected leaders representing the neighborhood and parts of the park wrote a letter to Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen, who attended Wednesday's meeting at Brooklyn Borough Hall, with concerns over a lack of transparency over the pier's future.

"As you know, every local elected official representing the area is opposed to the Bloomberg-era proposal, which was devised ten years ago," read the letter signed by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, state Senator Daniel Squadron as well as Councilmen Steve Levin and Brad Lander. "We are also opposed to the breakneck speed with which the administration has moved forward on that plan, without any meaningful public engagement."

The de Blasio administration came out in support of the plan to develop the two lots when it launched a search for proposals that would secure about 30 percent — or 130,000 square feet — of affordable housing designated for middle and moderate income households.

The two buildings, planned for the southern end of the park, can go as high as 31storieson one lot and 15 on the second. The project's advocates said that the plan remains the same, and that the only difference in the decade years since it was first proposed was an increase in property values that allowed planners to increase the number of affordable apartments.

On Wednesday, the mayor's office argued that the proposals offer chance for the city to maintain and operate the park in perpetuity while creating homes for Brooklynites who face being priced out of their neighborhood.

"We have an opportunity to achieve two noble and important things at the exact same time," de Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell said. "From our standpoint, that's a win-win."

Schomp, a lead plaintiff in a suit to stop the project, called the administration's defense "a red herring," and that 70 percent of the development remains luxury housing.

"I think that the mayor has a wonderful vision," she said, "and we're all supportive of affordable housing. But I think having a park that people can use goes hand in hand with having a livable, vibrant city that we can all live in."

The city is expected to decide on a design in the coming months.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter@chestersoria

 
 
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