(Photo from savethebrooklynbridge.org)
On January 14, the Community Board 2 met to vote on the proposed rezoning of the Dock Street Dumbo project and was approved 30 to 7 for the project. This evening, as part of the next step of the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) approval process, a public hearing will take place by Marty Markowitz (borough president) from 4 to 9 pm in the Brooklyn Borough Hall Courtroom, second floor, 209 Joralemon St. Below is a letter to the residents of Dumbo from Andrew Stengel, a member of the Community Board 2 on the reasons he opposes the Dock Street zoning application. Please note that this posting is not an endorsement for or against the project by DumboNYC. To be fair, please visit Two Tree Management’s website to read letters from the supporters of the plan:
To the Residents of Dumbo and Surrounding Communities:
I live in Dumbo and I am on Community Board 2 and its Land Use Committee.
As you likely know by now, Land Use rejected the developer’s Dock St. ULURP application by a vote of 7-6 (approved by the full board 30-7) and passed a resolution recommending R7B zoning, i.e., 75-foot height limit, by a 10-1 vote (two abstentions) that was never acted upon by the board.
There at least a dozen reasons I oppose the current Dock St. zoning application. Following are explanations for two of the primary issues.
The argument presented to the community is: you can have a new 300-seat public middle school and 80/20 housing only if we build an 18-story, over 200-foot tall building, adjacent to the Brooklyn Bridge. So, do we want to preserve the Brooklyn Bridge or build a new school? This is a completely false choice. (I agree that anything developed at the site should indeed include 80/20 housing. Affordable housing is a serious concern in the community.)
A new public school is a discrete issue. The process to choose Dock St. as the site for a new school was completely dysfunctional and lacked any transparency. (Trust me, I know dysfunction when I see it.) The Department of Education’s search should have started with the question: what do we need to serve the children of the community? Then, where is the best place to do it? Instead DOE apparently settled on Dock St. as the only choice.
The Department of Education has failed to do its homework regarding all of the possible sites for a new middle school in Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights. How do we know there aren’t existing sites that could house a 45,000 square foot facility? (I do wonder if real estate owners have been in contact with DOE.) Set aside the issues of financing for the Dock St. development, what about potential construction delays? (Atlantic Yards, anyone?) With an existing facility there would be no question–if or when?–about construction.
A second, equally important issue, is context. The buildings adjacent and nearest to Dock St. are three, four, five and seven stories–and the Dock St. lot currently includes a one-story building. In that area 18 stories–more than 210 feet with mechanical–is simply wrong. Context, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But only those blinded with emotion about a new school could possibly see Dock St. as contextual. (Please visit savethebrooklynbridge.org/renderings.asp for images representing the comparative height and bulk of Dock St. from the vantage point of the bridge and streets.)
It is true that buildings a few blocks away from the Dock St. site rise to an similar height. Yes, they are a few blocks away and not thisclose to the Brooklyn Bridge, a national historic landmark. This is not about a view from somebody’s apartment. It is about everybody’s view–whether standing on a street on Dumbo or looking out from the Brooklyn Bridge roadway.
In sum, I believe we can and should have reading, writing and responsible development.