Foes say ‘No Housing’ committee report is lowballing them

Daniel L. Squadron

March 25, 2011

The Brooklyn Paper

By Laura Gottesdiener

March 25, 2011

Show us the money!

Community members and elected officials are furious that a report studying ways to fund Brooklyn Bridge Park’s massive maintenance budget may be leaving good cash on the table.

A consultant hired to search for revenue to maintain the park without building residences within its waterfront footprint released a draft report last month that predicted non-housing options could generate $2.5 million to $7 million — not even half of the ballooning $16-million maintenance budget.

And more than half of that estimate comes from a new tax on residents and business owners within a quarter-mile of the park — a tax proposal that has been called “dead on arrival.”

In the face of these paltry figures, some residents and elected officials believe that the committee is not taking its job seriously.

“All the numbers are to justify one goal: building high on the waterfront,” said Judi Francis, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, which has sued to keep housing out of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The most-lucrative option left off the table is a proposal being pushed by state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights) to capture tax revenue created when dozens of currently tax-exempt Jehovah’s Witness-owned buildings are sold and return to the tax rolls.

“The most-important alternative revenue source has not yet been studied: tapping into the 2.8-million-square feet of nearby Watchtower properties,” Squadron said.

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