Nine alternatives to housing at Brooklyn Bridge Park
by Daniel Bush
Mar 01, 2011 | 3680 views | 2 2 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Revenue-generating alternatives to housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park, such as advertising, parking fees and a Park Improvement District, could raise $2 million to $7 million a year, a new study shows.

The draft report - produced by the consulting firm Bay Area Economics for Brooklyn Bridge Park's Committee on Alternatives to Housing - focused on nine possible funding streams to cover the park's estimated annual maintenance cost of $16 million.

Opponents of a city plan to build 20 to 30-story luxury towers inside of the park to pay for its upkeep said the report shows development could be avoided.

“This draft shows it's possible to fund the park without imposing a new fee on Brooklynites or building new on-site luxury housing,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron.

The alternatives identified ranged from fee-based recreational facilities ($603,000 annual estimated revenue) and concessions ($40,000 to $365,000) to commercial development ($257,000) and parking fees ($233,000 to $438,00).

Another potential source of cash could come from the creation of a Park Improvement District, which would levy an assessment on commercial and residential property owners within a quarter-mile radius of the $350 million, 85-acre park, being built on the East River waterfront.

The proposal could raise as much as $4 million per year, but is seen as unrealistic because it would need the support of property owners, elected officials and approval from the City Council.

Squadron immediately dismissed the plan, which was not received with much enthusiasm.

“It's an absolutely ridiculous idea,” said Geoffrey Croft, whose organization New York City Parks Advocates is allied with a board coalition opposed to housing in the park. “This is a city park, they need to fund it adequately.”

The report was also criticized for ignoring the possible windfall that would come from taxing the 2.8 million-square-foot Watchtower properties in Dumbo. The Jehovah's Witnesses-owned complex is not on the city's rolls.

Squadron called it the “the most important alternative revenue source.”

In 2010, Squadron and Assemblywoman Joan Millman signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the city that created the committee to explore alternatives to the housing plan.

The committee-sponsored draft report marks the start of a 60-day comment period. The first of two public hearings on its findings will take place in the Founder's Auditorium of St. Francis College on Thursday, March 31, at 6 p.m.

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