“We’re creating a neighborhood on the waterfront.”
These were the poorly-chosen words of Melanie Meyers, a representative for the Greenpoint Landing development. She appeared alongside representatives of the development at 77 Commercial Street and from various city agencies before a room filled beyond capacity at the McCarren Recreation Center on Monday evening to present preliminary plans for the developments threatening to deposit over 6,100 units of additional housing upon the north Brooklyn waterfront across the next decade. While it’s unclear what, if any, new information was conveyed to the public at the meeting, the response from the audience was clear: Greenpoint already has a neighborhood, thank you very much.
The details of the developments remained vague on many points, but the general outlines of their deal with the city are coming into focus. In exchange for development rights (purchased for what Ms. Meyers estimated for Greenpoint Landing at $8 million for 295,000 square feet, or about $27 per square foot) Greenpoint will be tossed the proverbial bone in the form of 631 units of affordable housing, 4.5 acres of city-owned park, about 2,000 square feet of publicly-accessible waterfront, and a 640 seat school. Part of this deal involves acquiring air rights from the MTA property at 65 commercial street; in order to use these air rights to build a 30-40 story tower instead of a 15 story tower, 77 Commercial still needs to secure an exception to allow for the soaring heights of R-8 zoning instead of its current R-6.
Aside from clarifications to these numbers, representatives of the developers did not meaningfully answer any questions or address any neighborhood concerns. Chief among those raised was the impending specter of a socioeconomically divided Greenpoint, with the waterfront belonging to the wealthy in towers whose business would be conducted in Manhattan and the rest relegated to their shadows cast on Manhattan Avenue. Transportation, which weighs heavily on the mind of any rush-hour G train commuter, was mentioned but met with a familiar response: we’ll do the studies when required by the development process. All of these non-answers served only to reinforce the main sentiment that this development is incongruous with the neighborhood and is not part of a comprehensive plan but rather is a short-sighted capitalization on valuable, newly-available waterfront.
People seemed dismayed by the lack of clear intentions coming from the developers coupled with a lack of clear leadership from representatives. Stephen Levin, District 33 representative, offered vague advice to ‘organize, organize, organize’ but appeared primarily interested in making it clear to voters that he was not in office when the 2005 rezoning was pushed forward. Similarly, Christopher Olechowski, representing community board 1, made it repeatedly clear that they had rejected in its entirety the development plans for the waterfront only to have them pushed through by the city regardless. If we wish to have a say in anything more meaningful than the placement of a park bench or two, it is clear that we will need to align the powerful undercurrents of resistance felt at this meeting, and do it quickly.
I have done my best to record all numbers accurately as I heard them, but please correct me on any mistaken details.
On Thursday 1/24, a crowd of nearly forty Greenpointers gathered at Greenpoint Church to discuss the recently opened Homeless Respite. Pastor Ann asked that all press and bloggers reveal the publication and keep off the record comments off the record. It was a neighborly forum and while the night had some very difficult and uncomfortable moments, important progress was made.
(For the record, no one spoke off the record, but I did not directly quote or identify residents.)
First and most importantly, ten homeless men, our neighbors, would sleep in warm beds on an 18 degree night without the risk of freezing to death. This is a good thing.
Second, issues of communication, a big concern for Milton St residents, was discussed (loudly, with some yelling) and promises were made for improvement. More open meetings to discuss the impact of the church’s services on the residents of Milton St will be scheduled.
When it was my turn to introduce myself, I said, “I am in attendance first as a member of the church and next representing Greenpointers.” I write this blog post from the same position. I am not an unbiased reporter. I openly support the efforts the church makes to care for those who would otherwise be left to go hungry or sleep in the cold. That being said I will do my best to be sympathetic to the residents of Milton St who are opposed to the shelter and share the burden as well. Continue reading →
On Wednesday night, the Mayor informed protesters they must vacate Zucotti park on Friday morning at 7 a.m for “cleaning.” They will be allowed back into the park, but will not be able to use sleeping bags, tarps, nor will they be allowed to lay down, which may end the occupation.
The OWS protesters have been in the park since September 17th. They have a Sanitation Committee responsible for the park’s upkeep, and today they brought in power-washers and other equipment to clean the park themselves, perhaps not to Brookfield Property’s (the park owners) satisfaction.
Council Member Stephen Levin, along with member’s Lander, Mark-Viverito and Williams wrote a letter to the mayor asking him not to evict the protestors saying that, “traditions of free speech, public assembly, and public protest are a deep part of our American tradition, honored best of all in the civic spaces of New York City … we believe it would be a harmful disservice to these democratic traditions to evict them.” Read the full letter here.
This Saturday at 11am the movement is coming to Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza. Boro President Marty Markowitz told the Brooklyn Paper, “It was only a matter of time before the … rallies made their way to Brooklyn. There is no doubt that Americans — those in the ’99 percent’ — are hurting, and we can all agree that some of the issues being raised by these protests are concerns we can all rally around.”
Tonight we asked locals told Greenpointers tell us their reactions to Occupy Wall Street.
We would like to know your opinion, too. Please comment.