Monday, June 15, 2009

BQE scoping meeting: June 22

The NYS Department of Transportation's multi-year study of how to repair the triple-cantilever section of the BQE continues to creep forward. The next event is a public scoping meeting on June 22. Scoping meetings tend to be fairly technical. As such, they are very important to get right. The purpose of a scoping meeting at the start of a project study period is to ask questions like, What is the proper scope of the study? How far out should we look? Where should we draw the limit? What should we include and exclude? Everyone has a different answer to these questions, and those answers are often driven by self-interests.

We have at least three goals for setting the scope of the BQE study:

1. Atlantic Avenue

Expand the project area to include the southern entrances and exits to the BQE at Atlantic Avenue. We all know how treacherous it is to get on the BQE at Atlantic. See Werner Cohn's BQE Watch blog for photos of accidents.

2. Protect our community

Make it clear that the use of residential streets (Court, Clinton, Henry, Hicks) as part of an alternate traffic plan during construction will not be acceptable. We don't want the BQE diverted through Cobble Hill while the highway is being repaired. Imagine how awful that would be. They are going to have to put those 100,000 cars somewhere.

3. Sound attentuation

Whatever technology or structure is used to repair, rebuild, or replace the triple-cantilever portion of the BQE, i.e. the roadway under the Promenade and above the future Brooklyn Bridge Park, should be designed to reduce noise.

The construction will not begin for another ten years or so, but important decisions will be made now. It is important to defend our interests from day one.

WHAT: BQE public scoping meeting
WHEN: Monday, June 22, 2009 between 3 and 6 p.m. and also between 7 and 10 p.m.
WHERE: Dibner Building, Pfizer Auditorium, Polytechnic Institute of NYU, 5 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn 11201

go to Governors Island this summer

As we said at the CHA's spring general meeting, we want more people from Brooklyn to visit Governors Island this summer. The CHA and CB6 have been trying to strengthen the island's ties to Brooklyn by, among other things, pushing for direct ferry service to the island from Brooklyn. One day soon we hope that there will be service from Pier 6 at the foot of Atlantic Avenue.

Governors Island is open to the public every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through October 11 for the 2009 season. Currently, the ferry leaves from Fulton Ferry Landing every twenty minutes. Here is the ferry schedule. Alternatively, you can also get a ferry from Manhattan at the Battery Maritime Building adjacent to the Staten Island ferry terminal.

The island has a full summer schedule this year: films, dance, music, food, and more. They also have free bicycle rental, and you can bring your own. The island is only 400 yards from Brooklyn, and it's a beautiful place to spend a summer afternoon. Let's take full advantage of it this year.

Carroll Gardens rezoning hearing: June 25

The Department of City Planning is commendably moving ahead with a comprehensive rezoning of Carroll Gardens and the Columbia Street District that will preserve the low-rise character of the neighborhoods to the south and west of Cobble Hill. This is excellent news. The matter is scheduled for consideration by the CB6 Land Use Committee on Thursday, June 25. We have only one objection to the plan: we don't think Henry and Clinton Streets immediately south of Degraw should be zoned R6A.

Why does it matter? The Cobble Hill Historic District's southern edge is Degraw Street. R6A zoning allows for heights up to seventy feet. The Historic District has a fifty-foot height limit. We think the zoning of the blocks of Henry and Clinton immediately south of Degraw should not rise so abruptly. City Planning has said that many of the homes on those streets are already quite tall. Even so, we don't want to encourage more tall buildings so close to the Historic District. We hope that community members will attend the meeting and reiterate this point to the committee.

WHAT: CB6 Land Use Committee meeting on rezoning
WHEN: LICH, Conference Rooms A and B, 339 Hicks Street
WHEN: Thursday, June 6, 2009 at 6 p.m.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Brooklyn Greenway benefit: Thursday

On Thursday, June 18, there will be a benefit for the Brooklyn Greenway. What is the Greenway? As their website explains,
Once it's finished, the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway will:
Be a 14-mile path for recreation and transportation
Run from Greenpoint to Sunset Park
Connect 4 regional parks and numerous open spaces on Brooklyn's waterfront.
A half-mile segment on Columbia Street is already open. Brooklyn deserves a proper recreational waterfront as lower Manhattan has along the Hudson.

WHAT: Brooklyn Greenway benefit
WHEN: Thursday, June 18, 2009, from 6 to 9 p.m.
WHERE: IKEA's Erie Basin Park

CH Happy Hour returns: June 24

Thanks to Jennifer Wiese, the Cobble Hill Happy Hour will now be a monthly event: every final Wednesday of the month, from 7 to 9 p.m., at Last Exit, located at 136 Atlantic Avenue.

The next three happy hours will be: June 24, July 29, and August 26.

Be sure to tell the bartender that you are with us.

BBPark news: CB6 opposes new housing in the park

On Wednesday, June 6, Community Board 6 voted to support Senator Daniel Squadron's revenue plan or any other alternative revenue plan that would rule out the construction of any new housing in the park. The vote was 23 to 6 with three abstentions. (The six no votes came from CB6 members generally associated with Carroll Gardens and Gowanus. It was not clear why they oppose a housing-free park.)

From day one, the CHA has opposed the proposed construction of new apartment buildings within the future park. CB6 has taken similar measures in the past and has reaffirmed its position now that Senator Squadron's PIRC proposal is on the table. We can only hope that the message will one day get through to the powers that be: no one wants twenty-story apartment towers—or any apartment towers—in a so-called park.

Concerts in the Park start on June 25

Thanks to the work of our concert organizer Rudy Kamuf, the CHA's annual series of summer concerts in Cobble Hill Park is about to begin again. The concerts are always tremendous fun for people of all ages and a great way to meet your neighbours. All concerts are scheduled for Thursday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. The rain date for each is always the next night, i.e. Friday. Here is the schedule with Rudy's description of each band.

June 25: Linda Ipanema and the Dixie Cats
The best of New Orleans jazz. The queen of Dixieland has been with us for four years. She excites the crowd with her toe-tapping, finger-snapping music.

July 2: The Beatniks
Old-time Rock and Roll. A unique husband and wife team that belts out the music of all the great artists you are sure to remember.

July 9: Bobby Harden
He sings the blues. A world-wide entertainer who gives every performance his utmost in excitement and energy.

July 16: Luisto Ayala Trio
This trio is one of the greats of salsa music. Their excitement and flair and salsa sound will stay with you long after the concert.

Bring your friends or make new ones. Fun is guaranteed.

The concert series is sponsored by Long Island College Hospital and Ridgewood Bank.

LPC hearing on 166 Amity: Tuesday

On Tuesday, June 16, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a hearing regarding 166 Amity Street. Here is the description from the LPC's calendar:
09-8655 - Block 720, lot 40-
166 Amity Street - Cobble Hill Historic District
A Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1843. Application is to install mechanical
equipment at the roof, alter the rear facade, and excavate at the rear yard.
Zoned R8B
The matter came before the CB6 Landmarks Committee on May 28, a night when Roy Sloane and I were at the first meeting of the CHA's new History Committee. Jerry Armer did attend the committee meeting and gave the CHA board his report.

In the end, the committee voted to object to the number of doors to be added to the existing rear-yard addition: that it should be one door, not three. Possibly of more concern is that the applicant appears not to have notified the neighbours as required. The CHA board decided not to send a statement to the hearing one way or the other, but you may want to express yourselves to the LPC on any of the issues involved: the number of doors, the non-notification of the neighbours, or any of the other elements.

WHAT: LPC hearing regarding 166 Amity Street
WHERE: 1 Centre Street, 9th floor, LPC Conference Room, Manhattan
WHEN: Approx. 9.30 a.m.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dock Street: more action needed

Back in March, the CHA testified against Two Trees' proposed building on Dock Street in Dumbo, a building that would destroy the historic views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. See the before and after representations above.

Our friends in the Fulton Ferry Landing Association have started a letter-writing campaign to the City Council to ask them not to approve Two Trees' historically destructive proposal. The CHA is joining their letter campaign, and we encourage our members who care about the bridges to send letters, too. Here is FFLA's sample letter. Let's save Brooklyn's greatest asset: our bridges.

Monday, June 1, 2009

City Council candidates on Brooklyn Bridge Park

On May 21, I attended IND's endorsement meeting. IND, the Independent Neighborhood Democrats, is the local Democratic club for the 52nd Assembly District. While there, I asked each and every candidate for the 33rd and 39th City Council Districts (David Yassky and Bill de Blasio's seats), the same question: 'Do you oppose new housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park?'

All the candidates for the 39th District unequivocally said that they opposed new housing in the park. The only difference among them was the degree of detail that they offered in demonstrating their opposition.

The situation was much different in the 33rd. Here are the holdouts:

1. Steve Levin declined to attend the event. He reportedly has a habit of doing that.

2. Isaac Abraham refused to answer the question. He beat around the bush and said he would have to talk to the parties involved. It was clear that he did not understand the issue.

3. Jo Anne Simon described housing as a 'last resort'. Later in the evening I spoke to her one-on-one to see if, given a second chance, she would take a stronger position against housing. She did not.

The position of the CHA has always been to oppose new housing in the park. It is a clear, simple position, and we encourage everyone to take a similarly hard line against the construction of new housing in a public park.

Bite of BoCoCa: Saturday

Whether you like the acronym 'BoCoCa' or not, you will enjoy this event. On Saturday, June 6, there will be another Bite of BoCoCa food tasting event. Here are the details from the official notice:

Saturday, June 6, 2009 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Rain date: Sunday, June 7

A Food & Wine Tasting Event at The Transit Garden,
Smith Street and 2nd Place

Featuring samplings from over 20 of our wonderful Smith Street & Court Street restaurants, food & wine shops, bakeries etc. at only $2.00 per tasting.

Tickets will be on sale at the garden gate.
$10 for 5 tastings or the super bargain of $20 for 12 tastings. We are family-friendly, too. For the kids we have pizza, mini bagels, etc., while their parents sample the gourmet fare.

Enjoy your tastings while you listen to the sounds of an array of local musicians and vocalists who will entertain us all day long.

Bette Stoltz 718-207-9570
Rita Miller 347-661-8819

All proceeds to go to garden plantings, maintenance and our non-profit sister SBLDC covering garden-related and insurance costs.