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Brooklyn Bridge Park wins court round

The Brooklyn Paper
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They’ll be housing in the park!

Brooklyn Bridge Park, a housing, commercial and open space development along the Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO waterfront, cleared another hurdle this week, as the state Supreme Court unanimously upheld the state’s inclusion of private housing inside the park’s footprint.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund had filed the lawsuit to force the state to revise its plans for the 85-acre site by eliminating the controversial condominiums and hotel slated for the park.

Those parcels would take up about 10 acres of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Under the controversial scheme, fees paid by residents and businesses in buildings on those parcels are supposed to cover the maintenance budget for the open space.

The Defense Fund, which favors use of the site as a publicly-accessible park, argued that including condos in a public park violated the “Public Trust Doctrine,” which forbids private encroachment on public spaces.

The Defense Fund also argued that the development’s Environmental Impact Statement — a document that examines the effect of the project on everything from air quality to traffic flows — was flawed because it underestimated the impact of traffic from the proposed Atlantic Yards mega-project just over a mile away.

But the court turned away these arguments on similar grounds as the 2006 case between the Defense Fund and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, the state agency charged with the park’s construction.

In court documents released on Thursday, Justices Robert Spolzino, Howard Miller, Mark Dillon and Ruth Balkin wrote, “Contrary to the petitioners’ contentions, the public trust doctrine does not prohibit residential uses that are merely adjacent to public parkland.”

The court also concluded that the effects of Atlantic Yards-related traffic was sufficiently studied.

The park’s opponents said they intend to fight on, taking the case to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.

“They’re missing the truth,” said Judi Francis president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund. “The condos are up against places where people normally would have been sunbathing or playing ball or listening to the radios. They’re missing the forest, if you will, for the condos.”

Officials from the park corporation hope this ends the legal saga.

“We’re thrilled,” said Regina Myer, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp. “Hopefully, this is the end of the line.”

Updated 4:01 pm, November 10, 2010
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