By Lisa Collins
There’s been a lot of politicking and community-activist action going on concerning the future of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Tuesday a major deal was struck in Albany that may prevent the construction of large luxury condo buildings around the park, something many community activists, and state Sen. Daniel Squadron, of Carroll Gardens, were against. Cobble Hill Association President Roy Sloane argued time and again the condos would effectively privatize the parks, restrict access to them, and limit the amount of recreational facilities for the public, due to lost space.
Brooklyn Bridge Park was the first park in NYC that Bloomberg had proposed to fund through private luxury condo development, by using the property taxes to pay for park construction and maintenance. Three large buildings were going to be built, but now, there will be one, and it will be shorter than previously planned.
Squadron led negotiations that will limit the construction of more condos. And as part of the deal, the park will get a floating public pool starting next summer, for five years, as well an ice skating rink, tennis courts and a year-round recreational area under a bubble.
The key to the deal: The city will use money from the sale of the Jehovah’s Witness buildings in Brooklyn Heights to pay the park’s $16 million a year budget, which includes maintenance, new construction and debt service on bonds used to upgrade the old piers.
In addition, the city is reinstating the $11 million it had previously cut from Brooklyn Bridge Park’s capital budget.
One of the condo buildings will get built, but at a smaller size than previously planned. A hotel and retail center will also go up, according to the deal.
The clincher: According to The New York Times, more than 1.5 million square-feet of Jehovah’s Witness property will have to be sold by 2014, so taxes from the sales can be used to pay for the park. If the sales aren’t made, the city can petition developers to building the luxury condos.
This is a big win for Squadron, who seems to have spanked what was appearing to be a stubborn, bullish city stance in favor of the luxury condos. Bravo. Look to see more from this young state senator.
Assemblywoman Joan Millman was also on the team fighting the condos. The state lawmaker’s office is on Smith Street.