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Issues surrounding Brooklyn Bridge Park have entered the hotly contested 25th District State Senate race.
Democratic Party challenger Daniel Squadron last week came out against any additional residential housing being built in the park as a means of making it self-sustainable.
But the 28-year-old former prodigy of Sen. Chuck Schumer received strong rebukes on the matter from both the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation (BBPDC) and his opponent, 30-year incumbent State Sen. Marty Connor.
“The GPP (General Project Plan) approved in 2005 included the building of residential development within Brooklyn Bridge Park to allow it to be a fully self-sustainable park,” BBPDC spokesperson Warner Johnston said of the 85-acre waterfront park spanning from just north of the Manhattan Bridge to Atlantic Avenue.
“A park of this size requires a considerable amount of maintenance and operational funding and we are pleased that we will be able to build such a majestic waterfront park that will require no ongoing city or state funding,” he added.
Johnston also noted that the BBPDC last week received its first payment from the luxury housing development already built within the park at 360 Furman Street that will go toward maintenance.
“This year, we estimate that we will receive a total of $1.5 million from 360 Furman in PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes). Next year, rent kicks in, and we will receive the PILOT as well as $1.25M in rent. All of this money is dedicated towards maintenance of the park,” said Johnston.
Squadron made his BBP policy statements near the Atlantic Avenue entrance to the park with backhoes clearing a lot for slated housing behind him.
“After years of delay – and a new five-year delay announced just last week [on a portion beneath the Brooklyn Bridge] – we need new leadership in the State Senate to get this park built,” Squadron said.
“Our communities, our borough and our city deserve a real, world-class park with year-round recreation – without having our waterfront turned into a de facto backyard for luxury condo towers,” he added.
Squadron also called for state legislation to designate the area as parkland and using a community-based process to increase year-round recreation such as a swimming pool, ice skating rink, field house, cultural presentation/performance space and affordable waterfront concessions.
Joining Squadron were several residents and civic activists that live on the Cobble Hill end of the park, who have long been critical of both the proposed housing to sustain the park and their perceived lack of community input in designing the GPP.
“Dan Squadron is absolutely right to oppose any new housing being built in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and to sponsor legislation to get the park designated by the state as parkland to prevent it,” said Murray Adams, former president of the Cobble Hill Association.
“It is wrong to require any park to be self-supporting from revenues generated from housing and other non-compatible uses,” he added.
Connor responded that he is not a big fan of residential housing, but it would only take up a small percentage of the park and it is better than some of the other suggested alternatives to keep the park self-sustainable, such as putting in big-box stores.
Connor also disputed the need for more community-based input concerning further park recreation. He noted that some 3,000 people came to meetings when the GPP was being prepared.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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