State could seize land to finish Bushwick Inlet Park, fine city $1M a year for not building it

Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

This is one way to get a park looking like a million bucks.

The state could seize a Williamsburg waterfront property the city has long promised to buy and use to expand Bushwick Inlet Park then slap Mayor DeBlasio with a $1-million fine every year he doesn’t turn it into green space, if local lawmakers succeed in passing a new bill they hope will force Hizzoner into action.

“My objective was to allow the [state] to buy the property, give it to the city, and say, ‘We’ve got you a park Mr. Mayor — now it’s your job to outfit it,’ ” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint), who drafted the legislation with state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Williamsbu­rg).

The pair say they got sick of the city claiming it can’t afford to purchase the 11-acre CitiStorage warehouse at 10th Street, which it needs to finish the 28-acre park that officials promised to build between the East River and Kent Avenue as compensation for rezoning much of the waterfront for luxury housing in 2005.

Lentol and Squadron’s bill allows the state to seize the property via eminent domain — which means the owner has to sell, but receives a market-rate price — and then work out a deal to either give or sell it to DeBlasio.

Once the land changes hands, the state could then slug the city with a penalty of a million smackeroos for every year it doesn’t build the park.

A senate committee just approved the legislation, which the lawmakers say is a promising sign the Republican-controlled house will actually vote on it this session.

But even if it clears both houses, Gov. Cuomo would still need to sign off on the plan. He spiked Lentol’s last do-gooding eminent domain bill — to seize an imperiled Williamsburg senior center — though this one offers a particularly high-profile chance for the governor to show up his nemesis DeBlasio.

One legal expert says it would be very unusual for a government body to use eminent domain to force another into paying for land — though it is common for the state to lump city pols with unwanted programs.

“This is a constant criticism of the state by virtually every municipality — that the state tries to take credit for programs that provide benefit to the public, and then shifts the costs onto the municipali­ty,” said Stewart Sterk, a professor of real estate law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Lentol insists the bill would only allow the state to seize the land, however — the transfer to the city would be a separate deal between the two parties, and the only pressure for it to agree or pay would come from members of the public.

And locals backing the legislation say it is only asking city officials to do something they devised in the first place.

“It’s promised as a park,” said Greenpoint resident Steve Chesler, who is a member of activist group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park. “It’s not like they’re taking people’s homes away — it’s definitely for the common good, for the taxpayers.”

Indeed, CitiStorage owner Norm Brodsky does wants to sell the property — much of which burned down last year.

He claims it is worth upwards of $325 million, though the park activists believe $75 million to $92 million would be a more realistic price tag, as the land is not zoned for residential buildings and DeBlasio has promised he won’t rezone it for housing.

A City Hall spokeswoman says it is currently reviewing the proposed law.

The Daily News was first to report on the bill.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Eliot from Williamsburg says:
Brodsky is pay next to nothing in property taxes. Why can he profit from a residential market assessment?
May 16, 2016, 9:25 am
Eliot from Williamsburg says:
And what about the Transmitter Park expansion, also part of the 2005 rezone?
May 16, 2016, 9:29 am
Stephane says:
NYC Parks claim Transmitter Park is twice the size it actually is! Forget the binding zoning map, for a moment. Look at the 2005 FEIS Open Space chapter.
May 16, 2016, 10:25 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I'm sorry, but I just can't say that I believe this. I will say this, though: this is not going to happen.
John Wasserman
May 16, 2016, 10:33 am
Ethan from Williamsburg says:
And who is going to pay for the developers' separated 'high level' sewer lines? The public will pay for that too. The FEIS was no help, as it underestimated rainfall.
May 16, 2016, 10:36 am
Hedgehog says:
Transmitter Park is 1.6 acres, not 6.6 acres according to Parks! Measure it!

Wtf is happening?
May 16, 2016, 10:47 am
Hedgehog says:
And how the hell are they going to build a high enough storm barrier at Box Street Park's soccer field with low landscaped developments to either side on the Brooklyn waterfront? At least LIC has the potential left to elevate.
May 16, 2016, 10:58 am
Mansfield from Greenpoint says:
The City Park at the tip of Manhattan Ave was decidedly left to ruin in the past year.

Sooo, let's see:
1. Park nxt to GMDC, City Park just recently surrendered to weed
2. Box St Park will compromise the storm barrier and its original funding vanished
3. Newtown Barge Park Playground was part of a b.s. pitch for a footbridge.
4. Transmitter Park is a fraction of its said size
5. Bushwick Inlet Park is hostage to landowners who should know it wasn't part of the FEIS transportation study.
May 16, 2016, 11:18 am
George says:
But go on, give Brodsky the money. The exchange will further increase our dependence on private money... Which is sure to be a big help when it comes to building an over engineered environmentally destructive barrier in the Bay. Our surrounding suburbs will prosper from the piss that trickles down.
May 16, 2016, 11:29 am
Joseph from Downtown Brooklyn says:
How much will the developers' 'high level sewer' co$t the public?

Didn't we just pay for undersized combined $ewers to go into the ground a few years ago?
May 16, 2016, 11:51 am
Mina L from Williamsburg says:
Levin lied when he said a downzone can only be accomplished with a 78.
May 16, 2016, 11:56 am
Munro says:
It should be called Dewey's Yacht Harbor. Chain yourself to fence to push the 'unpretty' things out of sight. Make friends with thugs, on both sides. Look like a hero.
May 16, 2016, 12:02 pm
Glenn M says:
The new McMansions!

At least we can't directly assume responsibility for putting the Palisades at risk of overdevelopment.
May 16, 2016, 12:19 pm
Emile says:
-What kind of jobs went to the beautiful Palisades?

-Jobs that won't go underwater.
May 16, 2016, 12:24 pm
Milton says:
So if these are the new McMansions, what will become of the suburban McMansions? Will they be razed and turned back into wilderness.
May 16, 2016, 12:41 pm
Bradbury says:
Just because it's tidy, doesn't mean it's clean.
May 16, 2016, 12:46 pm
Greenpoint Landing supporter says:
We don't want the Cooper Park Houses' children to come to our pretty new school. Good thing it changed districts, after the rezone.
May 16, 2016, 5:12 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
I love the park they built around Atlantic Yards.
May 16, 2016, 7:55 pm
Marrow says:
I don't understand people who have the chutzpah to build when they don't know how to, as though the planet were flat and infinite.
May 17, 2016, 10:47 am

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: