What: BBPDC public meeting about the Park's financial model.
When: January 29, 2009 at 6 p.m.
Where: Dibner Auditorium, NYU-Polytechnic University, 5 Metrotech Center, Brooklyn.
1. Hotel and housing
As reported in the Brooklyn Paper and elsewhere, the hotel and added apartment buildings have now been halted. Not cancelled, just halted. In other words, construction of the park will proceed without the hotel and housing that the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation (BBPDC) had claimed were essential to pay for the park's $15.2 million annual maintenance. If we can build the park without the 'essential' revenue-generating elements, perhaps they were not so essential after all.
The maintenance and operations budget for the park was last released in October 2005. Meanwhile, the park's construction budget has increased from $150 million to $300 million. What is the added money for?
3. Um, we live here, too.
The construction that has been planned is almost entirely at the northern end of the park. According to the BBPDC's website,
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation signed construction contracts for Pier 1 and portions of Pier 6 and the Pier 2 uplands, and broke ground on Pier 1 in January 2009.Portions of Pier 6? Pier 6 is the end of the park near Cobble Hill. What are we getting for our tax dollars?
4. Credit where it's due
Three people must be saluted for doing the right thing:
-Judi Francis, for leading the activist fight for a park with real recreation,
-State Senator Daniel Squadron, for his leadership in demanding transparency from the BBPDC, and
-Mike McLaughlin of the Brooklyn Paper, for asking the tough questions in his reporting.
Things to say
So what do we want? Here are some very concise requests that we hope you will join us in making. (May we suggest that you print them and bring them to the meeting?)
1. We want to see the CURRENT projected Operations and Maintenance costs broken down by item.
2. We want to see the CURRENT park construction costs and the money they have on hand.
3. We want an accounting of how the money has been spent so far.
4. Now that we know that the park can proceed without the housing and the hotel, we want a memorandum of understanding that the housing and hotel will never be built. They fooled some of us once. They won't fool us again.
5. We want more neighborhood diversity among the board members of the BBPDC. All nearby neighborhoods should be represented on the park's decision-making body.
It's time to put the Brooklyn in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
6. We want a ferry from Pier 6 to Governors Island.
7. We want more recreation planned at the park, and we want year-round recreation.
8. And finally, get rid of that stupid berm. It is unusuable, it wastes valuable park land, and no study has ever shown that it will block highway noise.
The Brooklyn waterfront is the last great space left in New York. Whatever we build there will outlive all of us. And there are no do-overs. We only have one shot at making a terrific park. Is it too much to ask that the community have a say in planning the park and that we know how our money is being spent? Well, the CHA doesn't think so. We will be there making the case for recreation and transparency. We hope you will join us.