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Park confidential: Planners, Heights Association hope to solve Pier 6 grievances behind closed doors

To build or not to build: The decision over what's to become of Pier 6 will be made by Brooklyn Bridge Park officials and members of the powerful Brooklyn Heights Association.
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Brooklyn Bridge Park officials and leaders of the Brooklyn Heights Association are cooking up a secret plan to resolve the fight over building income-producing luxury apartments at Pier 6 instead of creating more public green space there.

Officials from both groups got together last Thursday after a judge hearing a case filed by the Heights Association claiming the towers were an unnecessary extravagance ordered them to work out their problems before returning to court on Tuesday. And at Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Lucy Billings shuffled the combatants into her chambers for nearly two hours to come up with a solution, and some on the inside say there has been movement toward an agreement.

“Each side has made proposals on a possible resolution,” said Richard Ziegler, the attorney for the Brooklyn Heights Association, after the closed-door proceedings.

The details of the alternative plans are confidential, he said, and declined to comment on specifics.

After a version of this story was published online, Ziegler claimed the Heights Association is threatening to stop negotiations with the park and continue the lawsuit if a confidentiality agreement — which bans both sides from discussing talks with outsiders — is not lifted.

“The BHA wants to be able to share with the leaders in the local community who are not part of the BHA, who the BHA has been working closely with,” said Ziegler, on Wednesday. “So far, they’ve refused to let us do that.”

Towers have been long been on the table for the site at the foot of Atlantic Avenue, where the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation claims income from the 28- and 14-story structures will pay for maintenance that will keep wood-eating crustaceans called marine borers from chomping away at the pier’s timber pilings.

But activists say the park is already flush with cash, doesn’t need to construct the two high-rises to begin with, and should focus on building more parkland at the site.

The association filed the lawsuit last summer alleging that park honchos were violating their agreement to build only the bare minimum of housing required to pay for the green space’s upkeep.

Thursday’s two-and-a-half hour meeting “did not seem to be all that productive,” Ziegler said, so the judge made the move to continue negotiations in her office.

Some activists on the outside looking in say they would like to see park officials offer a compromise that includes additions such as a new entrance on Atlantic Avenue and recreation center that includes an ice-skating rink and pool.

“We will settle if there is something for the park,” said Judi Francis, who is the president of advocacy group Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund. “If we have to give in it will be for things that are right for the park and the people who use the park.”

The case is scheduled to go to court again on April 26 at 2:30 pm, but that could be pushed back if negotiations happen.

The New York City law department, which is representing the park, did not return a request for comment.

Developer Ral Companies and Affiliates declined to comment.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 11:11 pm, April 19, 2017: Comment form attorney Richard Ziegler claiming the Heights Association is trying to open up the process added.
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Reasonable discourse

Calvert from Gravesend says:
why not build something in Prospect Park and or Central Park?
April 19, 12:51 pm
Willowtown Resident from Willowtown says:
What is needed is more green space. No one should trade that away for "amenities" for the condo owners. It is a park. Let the park be a park. Can you imagine developing prospect park with housing? Hell no! The commitment was to build housing solely to fund the park and to build the least amount necessary. If the BHA backs off of that, it would be pathetic.
April 20, 3:19 pm

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