Development Of Downtown Brooklyn Dominates Community Board 2 Meeting

Council Member Laurie Cumbo spoke briefly about the new New York City budget. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)
Council Member Laurie Cumbo spoke briefly about the new New York City budget. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)

Community Board 2‘s most recent meeting was focused heavily on the future of Downtown Brooklyn given the massive development of its recent past.

The meeting took place at St. Anne’s Warehouse (45 Water Street) at 6pm on June 9 and it was marked by lengthy discussions of the future of Downtown Brooklyn, especially the impact of new development on local infrastructure.

“You can see a crane in the sky on every single corner,” said Alan Washington, who was announced as a new board member after his presentation on behalf of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

Alan Washington presented on behalf of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)
Alan Washington presented on behalf of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)

The presentation focused on nine key areas of infrastructure and how they will be stressed over the next decade by the projected growth in population of Downtown Brooklyn within the area that was the product of the 2003 rezoning. The areas focused on were hospitals, schools, public spaces, sanitation services, broadband connectivity, parking, transportation.

The residential population of Downtown Brooklyn is currently about 22,000, and it’s expected to be 47,000 to 56,000 by 2025, according to Washington.

Of note, Washington said that there will be a shortfall of 70 hospital beds, but said that it is more important to focus on the fact that hospital acquired infections are higher than other areas of the city and that the complications that occur in the hospital are greater than other areas of the city.

Additionally, regarding education, there is a very significant shortfall of seats in schools for the expected population, according to Washington. However, there has been significant money set aside for new seats but Washington warned that because they have not yet built, the issue is not resolved, said Washington.

Later in the meeting, the proposed 49-story tower at 141 Willoughby Street caused a significant conversation about the effects of development in the neighborhood.

Land use committee chairperson Carlton Gordon presented on the rezoning of 141 Willoughby Street. The skyscraper at 141 Willoughby Street off the Flatbush Avenue extension being developed by Savanna and would have 270 units with 81 of them set aside as affordable, according to NY YIMBY.

The community board agreed to vote on the rezoning in two parts: first, the sale by the city of a small park for $4.8M as part of a “de-mapping” and then separately the proposed tower. The sale of the park was approved. Under the deal, the park will continue to be maintained but its air rights will be transferred to allow the developer to build taller elsewhere.

However, the proposed tower was not approved and it led to a conversation which included a great deal of consternation about what some board members viewed as the excessive development of Downtown Brooklyn since the 2003 rezoning. The vote was 30-2 against with one recusal. The land use committee also rejected the plan last month.

The meeting opened with a presentation on emergency preparedness by Paula M. Carlson, director of exercises of Ready New York. Later, Staff Sargent Teri of the Citizen Preparedness Corps of New York spoke on the same topic.

Council Member Laurie Cumbo spoke briefly about the passage of the new city budget, and closed her speech by noting that she hoped the “best woman” would win the presidential election. 

Additionally, there was a lengthy presentation by Transportation and Public Safety chairperson John Dew on the Clinton Avenue bike lane which focused on the potential pitfalls of the bike lane. This comes on the heels of last month’s meetings which led to the DOT withdrawing the bike lane.

“I’ve had many anxious nights thinking about the proposal for a two way bike lane on Clinton Avenue,” said Dew, who added “this community does not want to be a test corridor for a two way bike lane.” Additionally, Dew asked why there wasn’t a time lapsed video of the condition of Clinton Avenue demonstrating the daily traffic conditions.

“How long does it take Google to change their directional maps?” asked Dew.

 

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  1. Additionally, there was a lengthy editorial on the Clinton Avenue bike lane by Transportation Committee chair John Dew which focused on the issues of greatest concern to him personally. This comes on the heels of last month’s meetings which led to the DOT withdrawing the bike lane.

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