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.”