Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Letter to Councilman deBlasio

Honorable Councilman deBlasio,
I don't know who is giving you advice on land development but it is really bad.
You have taken some baby steps in your tepid involvement in the "AtlanticYards" boondoggle (a little late) and Carroll Gardens. You seem to be AWOL on the Toll Bros. Gowanus project. You can be sure that there will be an UNRELENTING WAR on a project that does not deal effectively with the CSOs and brownfield situation by the Gowanus canal. Your political legacy is being written as we speak and will impact your future aspirations.

You will have to weigh your obligations to Bloomberg, his developer friends versus your constituents. It is an an easy choice for a venal, ambitious politician. I hope that does not describe you. I am pleased to see your name printed the garbage cans that grace our commercial corridors. Much more courageous work must be done.

I will work with Park Slope Neighbors, FROGG, Friends of Bond Street, CB6, Park Slope Civic Council and unaffiliated residents of your district to insure that another dangerous boondoggle does not get shoved down our throats.

Paul Heller, Park Slope

Email Bill deBlasio


Jean said...

Response from Councilmember Bill de Blasio

To Paul Heller,

I am troubled by your recent letter and hope that the following will address some of the concerns you raised regarding my position on the Toll Bros Project.

At this critical point in Brooklyn's history, we need to use every tool at our disposal (such as 421-a, inclusionary zonings, re-zonings, and preservation of existing affordable housing units) and set ambitious goals for keeping this borough affordable for working and low-income families.

Affordable housing needs to be a major priority of all Brooklyn development. As this project stands it will provide 130 units of affordable housing, this is 10% more than if they build as of right under the Gowanus rezoning framework. They will ensure that 30% of the will be sold under 80% annual median income and the units remain affordable for the life of the project.

Although there are good things about this project and we appreciate the developer taking them into account, I still have a have a number of concerns. The city must work with the community to develop proactive plans for expanding our already overcrowded mass transit system, building additional public schools, evaluating and implementing appropriate changes to transportation, planning for the additional demands on police, fire and medical safety responders, and utilizing systems such as green roofs and water retention systems to improve our combined sewer system and contribute to preserving our environment.

Remediation must take place before anything in the Gowanus can be built. It must take place with 100% transparency and community involvement. The developer must bring DEP and DEC to every meeting, every hearing to testify and to hold their own public meetings to discuss and answer questions regarding the cleanup.

I respectfully disagree with your characterization of my work on the Toll Bros project. I have attended multiple community meetings, spoken with my constituents and testified at City Planning's scoping hearing last week. I am more than happy to talk about the project and your concerns anytime. My office # is 718-854-9791.

Thank you

Anonymous said...

Mr. Heller's points are right on. As for Councilmember de Blasio's response, let's just say that much of it is the same empty rhetoric one gets from politicians in these situations. This idea that we're getting "affordable" housing in the neighborhood is just one of the usual red herrings. It's what every developer (does Bruce Rattner ring a bell?) promises to make a project seem palatable, then after its approved the "affordability" issue begins to change (again, does Bruce Rattner ring a bell?). Besides, what exactly does "affordable" mean? Affordable to whom? The idea of granting the Toll Brothers a variance prior to a full environmental study is absurd. Everyone in Brooklyn, much less Carroll Gardens, knows that the Gowanus is polluted, that the chemicals found in the canal and alonside of the canal are vile and toxic. Look at what happened to the Whole Foods project. It was supposed to be finished in 2006. They can't even start construction yet because of the chemical degradation of the site (next to the Gowanus Canal, of course). It's time that politicians pay more than lip service to their constituents about relevant issues. It's time that constituents demand it of them.

Anonymous said...

"Affordable housing" is about giving money to developers, and is a way of thumbing your nose to the people who already live here.

At least he stands for something. Too bad it's ACORN, Ratner, etc. and not us.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad that de Blasio came to the hearing at the last minute and missed out on HEARING his constituents. I do believe de Blasio when he says that he has spoken with his constituents although he is probably referring to those in the IND.

Thank you Paul Heller!