When Save The View Now started a few months ago we suspected something had gone terribly wrong between the intended plans for the buildings on Pier 1 and the actual construction we see today. Over time we pieced together many of the inconsistencies between the original plans and the current Pierhouse building, uncovering the sleight of hand that stole the views of the Brooklyn Bridge, a national landmark, from the public. To fully understand what should have been built, you have to look no further than a document the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation (BBPDC) commissioned, titled: “The Development Sites at Brooklyn Bridge Park: Design Guidelines” (“Design Guidelines”).
The Design Guidelines were never publicly disseminated. Someone who was closely involved in the Park’s planning, and shares our outrage, anonymously provided a scanned copy. When you read the Design Guidelines you will find they are easy to understand and clearly show that the buildings being built now are not what the public was told in 2005. Those buildings were more modest in size and mass, and would not have created the visual horror we see today while strolling on the Promenade, or walking to the dog run down Columbia Heights, or inside Squibb Park.
When the BBPC released the RFP for Pier 1 in 2011, they slyly choose, out of the gaze of public scrutiny and without the public’s knowledge or approval, to re-write the design guidelines. Rather than including in the RFP the section of the 2006 Design Guidelines devoted to Pier 1, the BBPC made a conscious decision to rewrite the guidelines, leaving out significant portions of the original that focused on responsible development and conformed to the agreements with the public to protect the views of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Promenade and surrounding areas.
Why did they decide to ignore all the agreements with the public, twenty years in the making? In their response to Borough President Adam’s letter asking for an explanation for why they strayed from the public agreement, the BBPC claims the Design Guidelines were “never finalized and have no official status.” Whether they have “official status” or not is irrelevant. They are based on the documents that do have official status, the General Project Plan, the Environmental Impact Statement and the analysis completed at that time. The Design Guidelines set forth the specifications that would have resulted in buildings that would not have violated the agreements with the public.
Someone at the BBPC made a decision to re-write the guidelines in 2011 thereby ignoring the agreement made with the public and stealing from the public, the views promised in 2005 of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Harbor and Manhattan Skyline. This was not a mistake as some were told when this issue first surfaced.
The unfortunate reality is that the BBPC does not care about the views of the Brooklyn Bridge that where promised to the public after 20 years of negotiations and discussions and agreed to in 2005. The only path to restoring the views is through legal action. We are working with a few lawyers, some are volunteering their time and others are being paid. We will publish our filings as soon as they are presented to the court. We fully expect the BBPC and Toll Brothers to mount a vigorous defense so we need to make sure we have the resources to continue the fight. Please help: