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Too hot to panel: Group pulls out of Bridge Park watchdog coalition, citing ’tude

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn Heights’ community board is pulling a Switzerland and backing out of the battle for Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Community Board 2 chairwoman Shirley McRae withdrew the board’s representative from the private park’s Community Advisory Council last week, saying the watchdog advisory panel is too critical of park management.

“The discourse at and resultant actions of the CAC often appear to be adversarial to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation,” she wrote in a letter to park president Regina Myer. “When the two entities are continually of such disparate perspective and opinion, it creates a dysfunctional dynamic that I no longer want the community board to be a party to.”

The Community Advisory Council, which makes recommendations about the park’s development and administration to the board of directors, has broken sharply with management on a number of issues in recent months. It called for a new environmental study to be performed before work begins on two buildings on Pier 6; a detailed accounting of the park’s finances to justify the need for those buildings — the last of seven structures meant to finance park maintenance — and halting construction on the contentious Pierhouse development near the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

None of the requests were voted on at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation’s meeting last week, because chairwoman Alicia Glen opted not to put them on the agenda. The board has previously voted on recommendations to review and revise the general park plan, but didn’t this time.

An advisory council honcho said her group, which consists of representatives from community groups and other locals who care, is only confrontational because the people running the park don’t listen to it.

“McRae seems to be blaming the CAC for not being cooperative with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation,” said Lucy Koteen, co-chairwoman of the council. “The function of the council is advisory, but they never take our advice. So, it is contentious, no doubt about it.”

The administrator of the community board, which advises the city on issues affecting Downtown, Fort Greene, and Brooklyn Heights, said that is just not his group’s style.

“That’s not how we do business,” district manager Robert Perris said. “And we don’t want to be part of an organization that does.”

He emphasized that the community board is not pulling its representative, Andrew Lastowecky, because of disagreements over particular issues, but rather because of the council’s attitude.

“It’s the tone of the discourse,” he said.

Sandy Balboza, a member of the advisory council, pointed out that McRae has never attended one of its meetings, and said the issues the council raises come from members of the local community.

“We present all of the issues, we discuss them, and we vote on them,” Balboza said. “This is a very controversial park and a controversial park plan.”

The recent conflicts with the park administration are a result of growing anger over many aspects of how the green-space-centered development scheme is being handled.

“Things are changing on the CAC because everyone’s mad about something,” she said.

Koteen is puzzled by the community board’s decision, and is growing frustrated with the structure put in place by the park’s administration for its own governance, since the advisory council, at the end of the day, has no real say.

“If we’re there to advise, and no one’s listening, what’s the point?” she said. “We can’t get no respect.”

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Pat says:
If you can't handle conflict, you have no business in politics, even at the community level.
March 5, 2015, 5:35 pm
Fiona from Cobble Hill says:
Shirley McRae seems to be playing the same protocol number the President tried against Prime Minister Netanyahu this week. The CAC, like the Israeli leader, has to be shut down because of the facts they dare to speak and the power of their public presentation. McRae is pulling the "community" board out because the CAC is "not nice." Stealing the Brooklyn Bridge apparently is. So is privatizing the waterfront.
March 5, 2015, 7:46 pm
Karl from Cobble Hill says:
McRae must think stonewalling is polite because that's what Regina Myer is known for. She never has a thing to say.
March 5, 2015, 8:13 pm
Lucy Koteen from Fort Greene says:
At a time when all the communities have come together in agreement that there is no need for housing on Pier 6 and agree that serious mistakes were made by the corporation in charge of overseeing the height of Pierhouse and at a time when the CAC is working in more harmony than ever by agreeing that something is terribly wrong with the way the BBPC operates, this is the time that the Chair of CB2 decides she does not like the tone of the CAC. Yes, there is a problem when the State mandated advisory council is ignored and considered irrelevant by the body that it is suppose to advise. All of the local elected officials agree with the advisory council and disagree with the BBPC. It is not the job of an advisory council to be a rubber stamp. It would be possible for the CAC to work cooperatively with the BBPC if the BBPC accommodated the requests and resolutions of the CAC.
March 6, 2015, 12:20 am
Leonard from Fort Greene says:
How unsurprising that Shirley McRae and Robert Perris decide to act as kindergarten disciplinarians. How laughable that the temper-challenged Mr. Perris remonstrates with the highly-informed CAC for "the tone of the discourse." The CAC's offense in the eyes of Ms McRae and Mr. Perris is not their tone but the mirror of truth they hold up to the ongoing, shape-shifting corruption of BBPC. Rob Perris, the Miss Manners of the Brooklyn waterfront. CAC is very naughty!
March 6, 2015, 12:57 am
Seth says:
If Leonard is correct, it would follow, the CAC is composed of a bunch of kindergarteners. It certainly has seemed as much to me from previous stories in this newspaper.
March 6, 2015, 5:14 am
John D. from Brooklyn Heights says:
Dare we say it? This is no big surprise - the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor and the conflict-riddled BBP Board has tried to demonize park advocates and the coalition of neighborhood associations for over 10 years. McRae just upped the ante when the Heights Association, very belatedly, decided to join their neighbors in advocating for a park and against the housing given their new awakening to: (again, known 10 years ago) impacts on schools, view planes and the once desired grand entrance at Atlantic Ave. CB2 is demonstrating how pathetic their leadership has always been on this park issue and they have been what McRae claims they are not: A rubber stamp for housing inside the park at all costs - blinders in place.
March 6, 2015, 9:15 am
John Q says:
No big surprise as CB2 doesn't even permit citzens to speak at committee meetings and hearings, so ANY discourse would be troubling to them!
March 6, 2015, 10:37 am
RG from FG says:
That's not true, Q. I go to some of their meetings. All the agendas end with an open session reserved for non-committee members.
March 6, 2015, 10:42 am
John D. says:
RG, pls note: At the END of the CB meetings after all votes have taken place do they let the public speak. When all is said and done. It is appalling the way this CB treats its residents. McRae is a stooge for developers - take a look at her voting record while on the City Planning Commission. If you believe that Regina Myer, who was the Bklyn Planner before her recent post, didn't put McRae up to this letter then I have a bridge to sell you. Oh right, they already sold that bridge. Watch out Williamsburg, Myer and McRae have your bridge in their sites!
March 6, 2015, 10:53 am
Leonard from Fort Greene says:
Not sure about Seth's logic. If someone puts insults him, it doesn't mean he deserves it. McRae and Perris are trying to distract. Far be it from them to write to Regina Myer and say they're pulling out because she's a liar.
March 6, 2015, 11:09 am
Kathleen from Park Slope says:
It looks as if their decision were based on the same attitude of non-stop, ad hominem snark illustrated in so many of the comments here.
March 6, 2015, 5:17 pm
angelica from houston says:
Oh please, Boehner/ Netanyahu... Blazing Saddles
March 7, 2015, 3:43 pm
Lincoln Steffens from Downtown says:
Regina Meyer and the entire organization are vile.

Matthew, I know you have to strike balanced tone here but go to the Brooklyn Bridge Park website and note how there's NO CONTACT information, at all, not even for media. Way to "communicate"!

Exactly who are you hiding from Regina and why?

A journalist or citizen can reach the Department of Defense easier than Luxury Condo Park.

A shame also that an excellent organization like the Brooklyn Historical Society has to hold their tongue on this group's malfeasance.
March 7, 2015, 10:54 pm
FrankieD from Brooklyn Heights says:
Regina Meyer has been getting away doing what ever she wants to do in the park for ages. Although the park is very nice, the housing issue really needs to be discussed in open matter...Meyer seems to not care she has ruined the view from the Promenade.
March 8, 2015, 12:51 am
KJD from Cobble Hill says:
If I didn't know better, I'd think from reading comments here that Regina Meyer and Brooklyn Bridge Park had built a toxic waste dump on the waterfront that is endangering the lives of children! But no, what we have is an amazing public park (don't EVER claim that this is only accessible to condo owners etc...that is a lie!). And you don't want more housing, yet many community organizations and the public are crying out for new affordable housing! The hypocrisy is astounding!!!!
March 9, 2015, 11:51 am
Annette Beecher from South Brooklyn says:
Dear KJD, would you care to explain the gross obstruction of the Brooklyn Bridge view from both the so-called Brooklyn Bridge "park" and the Brooklyn Heights promenade?

I await a response from you or the multiplicitous Regina Meyer.

Thanks in advance.
March 9, 2015, 12:41 pm
KJD from Cobble Hill says:
Annette, I'd like to know more about the view obstruction myself....my complaint above has more to do with the opposition to the Pier 6 housing. And why do you put "park" in quotes like that? Do you think it's not actually a public park? Go on a Saturday and see how many people are enjoying this park. It's packed! It's wonderful! Ten years ago there was nothing there for the public! And you get to use it anytime you want! Please!
March 9, 2015, 1:17 pm

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