In Brooklyn Heights, pork is the other light meat

The Brooklyn Paper
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A $2.7-million plan to install antique-looking lampposts will bring light to Brooklyn Heights — but it ain’t light on the wallet.

The Brooklyn Heights Association is on the verge of securing $400,000 in pork from Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D–Sunset Park) to join $250,000 that the group has already received via Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights) — money that will fund the replacement of the 229 still-functioning “cobra head” streetlights with replicas of cast-iron, “bishop’s crooks” lamps befitting a historic neighborhood.

Such old-timey lights already line Montague Street and the north side of Atlantic Avenue, and they illuminated all of Brooklyn Heights when the neighborhood became the city’s first historic district in 1965. But the iconic curled lamps were ripped out later in that decade to make room for today’s Modernist aluminum poles.

Each replica bishop’s crook light costs about $10,000, while a standard cobra head lamps retails for only $4,000, said a spokesman from the Department of Transportation — the agency which oversees all street light issues.

But the antique-looking streetlights are well worth the high price, according to Brooklyn Heights Association President Judy Stanton.

“They are beautiful, they enhance the neighborhood, and they are consistent with the history of the Heights,” said Stanton, who described the installation of the replica lamps as a means of creating jobs and promoting tourism.

“It’s a wonderful ambience to walk through a neighborhood and see historic lights.”

Velazquez agreed — and she told The Brooklyn Paper in a statement that spending hundreds of thousands in federal taxpayer money on the lights would help boost the local economy.

“It will create new jobs in our community and attract more tourists to Brooklyn Heights, further stimulating economic activity,” said Velazquez, whose cash is still awaiting Senate approval. “Given the current state of the economy, it’s important to support community-driven projects that help put New Yorkers to work.”

Though the Brooklyn Heights Association has only secured funding for a quarter of the lighting project, which aims to replace every cobra head lamps in an area bounded by Atlantic Avenue, Court Street, Poplar Street, and Furman Street (though not on Furman Street itself), the group plans to begin installing the bishop’s crook lights in phases, perhaps starting on the blocks near Montague Street and continuing north, Stanton said.

The project does not yet have an official starting date.

The classic lamps might look great, but not everyone believes they are deserving of the government pork.

“I think they are pretty, but they are not worth the money,” said Brooklyn Heights Maria Byros.

Fellow Heights resident Marc White echoed her concern.

“The city should be spending money on something more substantive, less cosmetic,” he said.

The lamp project still needs to receive approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, though the agency has approved the installation of similar bishop’s crooks lights in other historic districts, a spokesman told The Brooklyn Paper.

Updated 5:14 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

J says:
“It will create new jobs in our community and attract more tourists to Brooklyn Heights, further stimulating economic activity,”

New jobs? So the people in the brownstones are going to be installing street lamps? Uh huh. Okay. And news flash -- nobody is coming to Brooklyn Heights to see your street lamps...

In difficult economic times such as now, projects like this need to be deferred.
Aug. 19, 2009, 9:09 am
A O from BKLYN says:
I agree with J
the people whom will be installing the lights are already employed by the city so no new jobs will be created, just maybe not lost. And what happens to the old street lights are they going to be salvaged for other areas that need them or just trash for scrap metal. This plastic surgery of Bklyn Heights ain't necessary and is just fleecing Americas money. Dam yuppies get everything, but if we want a simple park or street lights in areas that needed it there is a ton of red tape that we all have to go threw. This is economic discrimination, give the rich neighborhoods all the good stuff while the poor ones have gates locking people out of perfectly fine parks because they don't want to pay to maintain it. Its just too unfair!
Aug. 19, 2009, 10:57 am
nicky from heights says:
This money could much better be used to create a publicly accessable REAL Brooklyn Bridge Park (not a Battery Park City type development). Tousists rarely go off Montague st. All it will do on blocks like Garden Place and Columbia Heights where the bankers and brokers live is enchance their property values. Funny while they are against government money for somepeople that love it for themselves.
Aug. 19, 2009, 11:31 am
Ben from Cobble Hill says:
Absolutlely disgraceful in the downturn, but such is the politics of keeping the machine oiled. The emerging, struggling *and* historic commercial corridors of Columbia St. and Van Brunt in Red Hook would certainly welcome and reap the most benefits from a capital boost such as this! ...but that's just not where the pocket books are enough open to influence these short sighted policy decisions. Congrats (seriously) to the BHA lobbyists. There is an important civics lesson to be gleaned on many levels.
Aug. 19, 2009, 6:27 pm
sid from Boerum Hill says:
to each their own. If you think the lampposts are expensive, to recobble the stones in Dumbo it is costing more than $10,000,000....
Aug. 19, 2009, 7:28 pm
Ben from Cobble Hill says:
agreed. I'm making an economic development argument. people will continue to visit and spend their money in Dumbo, whether the cobbles or "granite blocks" are restored or not. ladies in heels will just have make sacrifices in Dumbo in this round. Yassky's sucessor needs to get on the retention and growth bandwagon and set out the priorities for the district ASAP- however unpopular. A couple of the candidates ( simon and thies) grasp this and are showing some promise.
Aug. 19, 2009, 8:14 pm
Mike from Brooklyn Heights says:
While I am a resident of Brooklyn Heights and will benefit from the new lights, I nevertheless agree with prior comments that they're not needed.

What I do find curious is that many of the complaints boil down to "Spending money we don't have on a project in your neighborhood is disgraceful in 'these economic times', but you should spend the money we don't have in my neighborhood because I want it!"
Aug. 23, 2009, 2:36 pm
rah from park slope says:
What! Bishop's Crook lampposts?!?!

*makes beeline for Brooklyn Heights, open wallet in hand*
Aug. 24, 2009, 1:31 pm

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