Anti-development activists in Greenpoint missed a crucial deadline to file a lawsuit that could have halted two big waterfront developments in their tracks after one prominent foe of the projects left the fray to tend to his new baby.
Stephen Pierson, the former Council candidate who announced this summer that he would lead the charge to sue to stop Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street, said the final date passed in mid-November because other activists dropped the ball when he ducked out to take care of his newborn daughter Meha.
“At this point, it is not happening,” said Pierson, the professional-poker-player-turned-literary-magazine-publisher who lost to incumbent Steve Levin in September’s Democratic primary race for the 33rd District Council seat. Pierson was already dad to one daughter when his second entered the world this fall.
The lawsuit would have sought to force the city to do a new environmental study for the waterfront area where the Newtown Creek meets the East River and where the two developments are slated to rise, bringing a total of 6,200 apartments in 12 towers. The study the developers relied on for their zoning variance bids is eight years old, but the point is probably moot because, in addition to the lawsuit window closing, the Council green-lighted both developments in December.
Pierson laments that he left his fellow activists with everything they needed to sue, introducing them to an attorney and outlining the steps, but no one followed through.
“I left the ball in their court,” he said.
The problem was not lack of interest, it was lack of funds, say Pierson’s comrades.
“It came down to money,” said activist Colin Miles, who is also a founder of the anti-Domino Sugar factory development group Save Domino. “It cost a lot of money to hire a lawyer and we did not have it.”
Pierson said the fact that he lost the Council race and that he lives in Brooklyn Heights, not Greenpoint, also played into the decision to make the handoff.
“It’s still an issue I care about,” said Pierson. “But it did not seem prudent for me to be the face of this.”
Miles said his anti-development cohort in Greenpoint will continue brainstorming ways to turn back the waterfront tower town.
“We have got to do something,” he said.