‘Thousands’ raised for ‘park’ fight

The Brooklyn Paper
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Opponents of plans for the Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront development fattened their warchest this week.

More than 300 representatives of 10 community associations attended a Tuesday fundraiser for legal action against the current $150-million plan.

The fundraiser was the largest event held by The Brooklyn Bridge Defense Fund since the community-based coalition incorporated as a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation.

“People write $500 checks and they write $10 checks,” said Judith Francis, the fund’s president. “In the notation at the bottom of the checks they write, ‘No housing, we want a real park.’”

Representatives of the BBDF would only say the event raised “thousands” of dollars.

Park planners say the cash could go to better causes, if the concern of donors is really helping city parks.

“If people want to see changes there are still opportunities within the process to make them,” said Marianna Koval, director of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, a private organization working closely with the city and state on the current plan.

“We really do regard these groups as people who are not merely opposed to this plan, but opposed to any Brooklyn Bridge Park,” she added. “We don’t see them as any friends of any park at all.”

Francis disagreed, saying the money is pouring in because area residents object to the high-rise residential and commercial development within the park that will pay for its construction.

“[The city and state] left themselves so ripe for a lawsuit,” Francis said, claiming that oversight authorities dismissed out of hand a plan to build the park without commercial properties.

But if plans for the park are going to change, opponents might want to consider express delivery for their donations to the cause.

On Dec. 15, the project’s lead state agency, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, will vote on its final Environmental Impact Statement and General Project Plan — part of an accelerate schedule approved earlier this month.

The Public Authorities Control Board, an obscure state body best known for its rejection of the West Side stadium earlier this year, will vote on the plan as early as January. The board is controlled by Gov. Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

Silver, who represents Lower Manhattan, was the nay-sayer who sunk the stadium, and opponents of the park plan are hoping to persuade him.

“We are reasonably sure that Silver [will] listen to [Assemblywoman] Joan Millman,” said Ken Baer, chair of the New York chapter of the Sierra Club.

Millman was not at Tuesday’s meeting, nor did she send a representative.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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