Last night at St. Francis College, residents, city representatives, workers, visitors and experts came out on a chilly evening to state their views on how to create revenue to sustain Brooklyn Bridge Park. The auditorium was half full for the second of two required hearings.
Nearly every speaker expressed joy in the park, what is to come and what that will mean to the people of Brooklyn. However, unlike the , a majority that spoke on Remsen Street favored the current plan of creating luxury housing in the park as a source of revenue over the other alternatives.
Marron Doherty, a Cobble Hill resident, asked that the current development proposal be followed, seeing luxury high rises as positive.
"What we really need is the kind of high end housing the park calls for," he said.
David Flemming, a lifelong area resident who now lives on the border of Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, described to the committee the overwhelming joy he had when first entering the new park, and the similar experiences he has had there since.
"But it's not enough," he said, proudly stating that with the right funding the park has a chance to be one of the greatest public spaces in the country.
Other than housing, ideas for revenue included: concessions, a world class recreation center, big box retail and selling the naming rights. New York City funding and philanthropy did not have much support.
"The city should take care of its own parks," said Ray Levin of Brooklyn Heights, a proponent of the current plan. "But that is not going to be done."
John Alschuler, chairman of HR&A advisors in real estate and public policy and Chair of the Board of Directors of Friends of the High Line Inc., told the committee his fulltime job is to raise $5 million to fund the High Line. He said it would be "very difficult" for Brooklyn Bridge Park to come up with the $16 million it needs.
He strongly supported the current plan, adding, "housing is a tremendous asset."
Those against the plan urged re-evaluation. Joanne Nicholas of the Cobble Hill Association argued the private sector would find a feasible alternative in a similar situation.
"You need to give the private sector a chance to look at something other than housing," she said.
Councilmember Steve Levin asked the committee to look at the alternatives and speculated housing may not be a guarantee.
"The luxury housing demand isn't all there right now," he said.
A resident from Crown Heights echoed many sentiments when he expressed his pleasure with the park. That feeling may change for some, pending the subcommittee's upcoming decision.