Friday, November 20, 2015

Say It Ain't So, Mayor de Blasio!

“We are not embarking on a mission to build towering skyscrapers where they don't belong. We have a duty to protect and preserve the culture and character of our neighborhoods.”

Guess who said that last February?! Mayor de Blasio!

But somehow the Mayor has lost his way and now he is supporting building high-rise towers right next to our historic low-rise brownstone community.

At Wednesday's community meeting, hundreds of our Cobble Hill neighbors and friends made their feelings loud and clear: No towers in Cobble Hill! Our representatives heard our message and they are behind us 100 percent in this truly momentous effort to stop Fortis Property Group from building their high-rises on the site of the former Long Island College Hospital.

Now we need to make sure Mayor de Blasio hears us, too! Toward that end, we are petitioning Mayor de Blasio to work with us— not against us— in our efforts to significantly downscale the current redevelopment plans. We've already collected hundreds of signatures, but we needs several times that to make an impact.

Please read our petition and-- if you agree— add your vitally needed voice to our campaign. There are two ways you can participate.

1. Please print out a copy of our petition, sign, and mail to: Cobble Hill Association, 123 Congress Street 11201 (or you can drop through the mail slot).

2. Access and sign our petition online. (Your email will be your signature.)

All the community's signed petitions will be delivered directly to the Mayor's office.

Please sign today! The sooner these petitions reach the Mayor the better!

And THANK YOU! for being a part of our community.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Cobble Hill Community and its Representatives Reject Fortis Redevelopment Plans for LICH site

City Councilman Brad Lander, New York Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, New York State Senator Daniel Squadron, and New York Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez announced at the Cobble Hill Association's fall community meeting that they would not support the current proposed rezoning (ULURP) plans for the former Long Island College Hospital site. "The community does not support this ULURP proposal— and neither do I," Councilman Lander told his constituents, who filled the auditorium of P.S. 29 and also spoke passionately against the Fortis plans, which feature luxury high-rise towers of at least 35 stories.  Cobble Hill Association President Laurel Burr and First Vice President Buzz Doherty also reported that, after holding nearly 20 block meetings to discuss the Fortis proposals, there was a clear consensus within the community that the redevelopment plans were unacceptable and needed to be significantly downscaled to win neighborhood approval. The CHA would like to thank our representatives for their work on behalf of Cobble Hill and our President Laurel Burr for her tireless efforts to mobilize community action on this vital issue. Please follow us on Facebook for the latest developments. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fall General Meeting on Wednesday Night

Fall General Meeting
November 18th, Wednesday, 7:00 pm
P.S. 29 at 425 Henry Street
Between Baltic and Kane Streets


This will be a very important meeting of the Cobble Hill Association as the community provides feedback on the development proposals for the Long Island College Hospital site.

Incomplete and misleading information is being disseminated in our neighborhood by paid canvassers.

Some points of clarification:
  • The rezoning plan is substantially larger than the As of Right plan.
  • The NYU-Langone medical facility will be built by NYU regardless of which development path Fortis chooses. Continuous medical care on the site was a condition of the sale and is not a voluntary benefit offered by the developer.
  • The park space proposed in the rezoning is a park “mash-up” of the existing sitting park and an existing playground, plus only 4286 additional square feet. 
  • The proposed K-5 school has no schoolyard.
Check the Cobble Hill Association Facebook page for news and updates.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

CHA attends meeting with Councilman Brad Lander and other community organizations to discuss affordable housing

As reported on DNAinfo's website, on November 5 the Cobble Hill Association participated in a meeting organized by City Councilman Brad Lander on the subject of affordable housing as it relates to the needs of the community and the current proposals for the redevelopment of the Long Island College Hospital site. A representative of Assembly member Jo Anne Simon's office; representatives of the Carroll Gardens Association, which works to preserve and develop affordable housing; Heights & Hills, which provides support services to Brooklyn's senior citizens; the Brooklyn Heights Association; representatives of Fortis, the developer of the LICH site; and other stakeholders were also in attendance.

The meeting served to educate community groups and stakeholders in the LICH development about the many intricacies involved in building and maintaining affordable housing units within a luxury high-rise development, including income levels, senior services, apartment size, preferences for certain groups, etc. The developer is proposing affordable housing in two of the high-rise towers they are seeking to build (the tallest of which is 35 stories), one housing primarily seniors. However, the representative of Heights and Hills, which has served seniors for decades, asked a number of thoughtful questions about the senior housing component of Fortis's current proposal and it was clear that Fortis and its partner L&M Development have not made any final decisions about the exact nature of the senior housing or the other proposed affordable units.

CHA is not opposed to affordable housing in any development plan, as long as it is affordable and acceptable to the community. As Council Lander has stated: "The proposals are deeply disturbing to most neighbors, and for good reason: they are dramatically out-of-scale with the Cobble Hill community." A historic brownstone neighborhood with a 50-foot height limit will be overwhelmed by a multi-tower residential complex with heights of up to 400 feet.

On November 18, CHA will hold its fall community meeting. The time and location are TBA. In the meantime, please "like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for latest developments.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

When Community Advocates Are Really Paid Political Public Relations Advisors

Cobble Hill Association can now confirm that Hilltop Public Solutions, a political public relations firm operated by former top-level campaign organizers for Mayor de Blasio, is aggressively operating a "messaging" campaign in our neighborhood in support of Fortis's proposed high-rise complexes for the LICH site. Hilltop's campaigners (who say they are working for "the LICH project") are collecting and asking residents' opinions on schooling and playgrounds to forward to New York City Councilmember Brad Lander. What is not stressed by these campaigners is that both redevelopment plans will place high-rise tower complexes over 35 stories high in our low-rise historic neighborhood.

We do not believe a consultancy firm paid for by the real-estate developer of the LICH site should presume to represent our community's opinions to our representatives. We are asking all residents of Cobble Hill and throughout South Brooklyn NOT TO RESPOND to Hilltop's solicitations. CHA is reaching out to Councilman Lander's office immediately to inform him of Hilltop's stealth campaign.

For more on Hilltop's lucrative relationship with the Mayor, read this New York Times article. And in case you missed it, the Wall Street Journal also recently ran an incisive report on Mayor de Blasio's abandonment of LICH and our community. We are updating our Facebook page regularly with news and information about the Fortis redevelopment plans and what we can do to protect our community from falling victim of gross overdevelopment. Please "like" CHA on Facebook and invite your neighbors to follow us on Facebook as well. We need your support!!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Why does Fortis want your signature?

Cobble Hill Association has received reports that representatives of Fortis Property Group are canvassing the neighborhood asking people to sign a petition in support of "affordable housing” and “more parks” for Cobble Hill. Undoubtedly, these signatures are being collected to help Fortis promote its proposed rezoning of the Long Island College Hospital site. This is in addition to Fortis’s efforts on Facebook to solicit support. We are asking that residents NOT sign the petition— either on line or in person. Here’s why:

CHA does not support the current Fortis proposals and there continues to be a number of important unresolved questions over how these towers will be built without causing irrevocable harm to the historic district of Cobble Hill— and to our larger brownstone community.

The petition only addresses what Fortis claims will be the amenities related to the rezoning development they want to build and does not allow participants to express doubts, concerns, or objections about the actual plans.

The petition may not specifically mention the rezoning, but we want to remind everyone that the rezoning would result in a development much larger than they can build As of Right, and that the proposed “public park” could be used as a schoolyard.

Our greatest concern is that residents are being asked to share personal information with a major real-estate developer who may then use the data collected to make spurious claims of neighborhood support for its high-rise towers complex.

If you have any question or concerns, please reach via email, Facebook, Twitter, or leave a comment below.

Halloween Parade Tomorrow

Happy Halloween Cobble Hill! The costumes are getting their final touches and everyone's ready to trick-or-treat! The costume parade will congregate in Cobble Hill Park tomorrow, leaving at 4:00pm. We will proceed from Congress Street to Henry Street, head south on Warren Street, and turn back to Clinton Street to return to Cobble Hill Park. The residents of the Cobble Hill Health Center are looking forward to seeing our costumes when the parade passes by on Henry! The route will be led by Captain Colon, Commanding Officer of the 76th Precint, and the Packer High School Jazz Band. See you tomorrow!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Letter to Fortis Concerning Current Site Conditions at LICH

Yesterday, the CHA sent the following message in a letter to Fortis, NYU Langone, and SUNY about conditions at the former site of Long Island College Hospital.

Dear Sirs:

We are writing on behalf of the Cobble Hill Association (the “CHA”) and the residents of Cobble Hill to bring to your attention certain matters relating to the former Long Island College Hospital (“LICH”) site in Cobble Hill and your current activities with respect to it.

First, the public areas of the LICH site are not being maintained in a safe and lawful manner. Lights are either broken or not turned on at night. Park gates, to these darkened areas, are often left unlocked at night. Other gates, including those leading to public areas, are improperly locked during the day. Sidewalk snow removal was untimely or nonexistent for much of last winter. We have received reports of bloody sheets and syringes in neighborhood garbage receptacles. Efforts by community members to locate the entity or person responsible for these matters and to get them corrected have proven time consuming and largely unsuccessful. These conditions present a clear and present risk of assault and injury to community residents.

In addition to the lack of maintenance, demolition and construction activities have caused greater hazards for the Cobble Hill community. Construction debris, moving vans, garbage trucks, parked cars and uneven pavement have rendered the public area of the Pacific Street corridor dangerous for its intended pedestrian and recreational use. This area, which long provided recreational space and a safe passageway between play areas under the auspices of the NYC Parks Department, has become almost completely unusable by the public. Elsewhere on the site, especially along Amity and Henry Streets, unsafe construction practices abound, some of which have already led to the issuance of a stop work order. Neighbors have reported unsafe asbestos removal, while the Stop Work Order was in effect, including workmen who were not wearing protective clothing. Behind the “No Parking” door on the Polhemus Building, there is floor-to-ceiling garbage. The gate to the west of the former doctors’ residence (94 Amity) has been seen unlocked and unguarded, compromising the safety of neighboring homes.

Second, the LICH parking garage at 352 Hicks Street has been unlawfully converted from an “accessory” parking facility into a public parking garage. As you well know, LICH obtained the support of the community and its elected officials for the de-mapping of Van Voorhees Park for the sole purpose of providing accessory parking for medical staff and visitors, as is stated in City Planning Commission decision referenced in the garage certificate of occupancy. It is fair to say that this deeded parkland would never have been exchanged for a public for-profit parking garage. This unlawful use must cease immediately.

Lastly, as you must know, the development and maintenance of the LICH site is governed in part by the Agreement between LICH and the CHA dated January 1984, as amended on May 29, 1987, and by an Agreement dated May 29, 1987 (copies attached), as well as agreements with the NYC Parks Department. As successors and assigns of LICH, we expect you to proceed in accordance with these agreements in all respects.

Our demands are simple – we ask that you conduct your activities on the LICH site in a manner that is both lawful and safe for community residents and in accordance with the agreements concerning this site.

The Cobble Hill Association

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Response to Fortis Release

New Fortis proposal including student housing is revealed:

Cobble Hill Association Release 10/20/ 2015

Today, the Fortis Property Group released two versions of its plan to develop the former Long Island College Hospital site abutting the historic neighborhood of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. For the last five months, the Cobble Hill Association (CHA) and Fortis have been in discussions under the auspices of Councilperson Brad Lander to create a plan that would serve the future residents of Cobble Hill, while preserving the characteristics of the neighborhood that drew those people in the first place. We recognize that change is inevitable, but from the beginning the community has consistently maintained that the buildings proposed were too tall and that the population density would overwhelm the existing neighborhood. Fortis agreed to enter into discussions with the help of Councilperson Lander. Unfortunately, they have steadfastly refused to significantly lower the height or scale back the density of the plans. Instead of listening to the concerns of CHA, last week they actually increased the square footage of the ‘As of Right’ plan by adding 262,500 square feet, an increase of almost 40%, mostly in the form of student housing.

The CHA remains committed to the process organized by councilman Brad Lander and hopes to move forward in productive discussions with its new neighbor.

For further information, please contact

Saturday, October 17, 2015

What Do You Think About Cobble Hill's CitiBike Locations?

The above CitiBike expansion draft plan was presented at Thursday night's CB6 Transportation Committee meeting [click here for PDF]. In addition to Cobble Hill, stations will be installed in Red Hook, Gowanus, and Park Slope down to 14th Street. The Department of Transportation, who presented the plan with CitiBike, says that the station density will be lower in this phase of expansion than in parts of the original network. The docks will be deployed in 2016, and the entire phase two expansion is scheduled to be complete by 2017.

Below is a close up of the docks planned for Cobble Hill along with the legend. Two stations of note are in front of Cobble Hill Park, and Trader Joe's. There will also be three CitiBike docks on or near the Brooklyn Greenway on Columbia Street. This plan will not be finalized for a few months so you and Community Board Six still have a say. The Cobble Hill Association is collecting your feedback about the stations in our neighborhood to present to the DOT with CB6. Please fill out this survey to let us know what you think of the proposal.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Halloween is Around the Corner!

Out come the cob webs, phantoms, and ghouls when the Cobble Hill Halloween Parade creeps up this autumn. Prepare your costumes for our annual gathering, and we'll see you in the park.

We're seeking volunteers to help with parade decorations and clean up. If you're available to help set up at noon or clean up at 8:30pm, please email

Halloween Parade
Saturday, October 31st at 4:00pm

Friday, October 9, 2015

Compost and E-Waste are coming to Cobble Hill

Cobble Hill is getting even greener this fall, and it won't be the leaves. The city's organic waste pilot program has arrived in Cobble Hill. Starting October first, you may have seen little brown bins delivered to your home or your neighbor's yards. All single family homes and residential buildings up to nine units are included. The bins are collected from the curb along with your trash two times a week. The compost collection accepts all food scraps excluding meat, fish, and dairy. Yard waste is also accepted. For more information see the DSNY website.

Also coming up on Sunday, October 18th the Lower East Side Ecology Center's E-Waste Warehouse is hosting an electronics recycling day at PS 29. Bring your old batteries, lightbulbs, cell phones, computers and more. Proper disposal ensures these hazardous materials stay out of the earth and are reused if possible.

E-Waste Recycling
Sunday, October 18th
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
PS 29 on Baltic Street
between Henry and Clinton Street