The following is a response from Kenneth Fisher, the Two Trees’ Land Use Counsel, who emailed us the below letter in response to Andrew Stengel’s open letter about the Dock Street Dumbo development posted earlier this week. As a forum to provide all sides of Dumbo-related issues, we’ll post the letter in full, but as stated in the earlier post, the content and opinions expressed in the letter do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they an endorsement against (or for) the project by DumboNYC. Thank you to all sides for providing their take on this controversial topic. We hope they provide the community with various viewpoints allowing us to have an objective take on Dock St Dumbo.
As Two Trees’ Land Use Counsel, one of the consultants to whom Andrew Stengel refers in his open letter, I’m surprised he didn’t share any of these concerns when he came over to say hello to me at the City Council hearing on the Dock Street plan. It’s not that I don’t understand the opponents’ frustration with the approval process. What I don’t appreciate is the attitude that their failure at every step leading up to the City Council means that the process is flawed – the fact is that their argument is unpersuasive because other people who review the actual, accurate, proposal consistently don’t see things their way.
[Please click the link to view full letter.]
Here’s what led up to the Council hearing: The Community Board approved the project 30-7, the first time they have ever supported a Two Trees zoning application in 25 years. The Borough President approved the proposed zoning although he recommended a different building form which would have been even taller than the Walentas proposal. The City Planning Commission approved the plan with a small reduction in height by a vote of 9-2; even the two ‘no’ votes supported a building twice the height of what Andrew had proposed at the community board.
The reason for this was captured by the Observer’s Eliot Brown in his report on the public hearing: “At the City Council on May 21, members had to interrupt the Walentas family’s architect midway through a presentation to find just which building on a 3-D model was being proposed” because the building is entirely contextual and reflects the right relationship between the Brooklyn Bridge and the massive Gair-Sweeney buildings which surround it. politickerny.com/3714/dock-street-turns-council-inside-out
Having had their inaccurate renderings and arguments debunked by the Brooklyn Paper and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, opponents are like Chico Marx in Duck Soup, crying out, “Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”
So, desperate opponents have now taken to throwing mud at Two Trees, the School Construction Authority and the City Council. But they can’t obscure that fact that their opposition campaign is funded and led by many (not all) who care mostly about losing their private views or that the school space being donated by Two Trees would otherwise cost the City millions of dollars to acquire and build. Whatever the flaws in the process, they aren’t enough to justify depriving the neighborhood of additional housing (including some for low income families), a middle school for 300 students, jobs, more retail activity, and parking for residents and visitors to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Dock Street DUMBO should be judged on its merits – and the fact that project opponents have gone so ruthlessly negative tells me only that they know the merits favor approval.
Kenneth K. Fisher