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Advocates push mayor, governor to preserve Brooklyn Bridge Park views

Pedestrians walk and take in the views along

Pedestrians walk and take in the views along the Brooklyn Promenade on June 8, 2015. Brooklyn Heights residents are concerned that the height of the under construction Pierhouse development, left, in Brooklyn Bridge Park, will block views of the Brooklyn Bridge and parts of Manhattan. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

A group of concerned Brooklynites Monday launched a campaign to pressure the governor and mayor to save Brooklyn Bridge Park's iconic views.

The grassroots campaign "Save the View Now" began a letter-writing push to convince Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to assist a bid to halt the construction of Pierhouse, a luxury hotel and condo development that is being built on Pier 1.

Steven Guterman, the group's president who lives near the construction site, contends the building exceeds the 100-foot limit that the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, the nonprofit group that runs the park, agreed to when they designed the green space.

Guterman, who filed a lawsuit that resulted in an injunction on the construction, said he and the group's 6,000 supporters feel they were duped.

"All of those documents had language in them that led the community to feel comfortable that the views from Brooklyn Bridge Park would be protected," he said.

The corporation, which has members chosen by de Blasio and Cuomo, didn't return requests for comment by press time. The mayor's and governor's offices also didn't comment about the situation.

In 2005, Pierhouse's developers agreed to a general park plan and final economic impact statement, which set aside regulations for the park's construction. The developers said their project would reach a maximum height of 100 feet, the same size as a warehouse that was previously located on the plot.

Pierhouse and other developers agreed to help fit the bill for maintenace of the park, which began to open in 2010, as part of the agreement.

The building's construction plans now include an elevated height due to new Sandy-related regulations and two mechanical units which put it over 130 feet tall, much to the disdain of residents.

"We need a grand entrance to the park for Brooklynites," said Judi Francis, the president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund community group.

In a statement sent to amNewYork in March, Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation said Pierhouse plans were presented to the community in 2013 with a "favorable response," and they maintain "all officially protected promenade views."

Save the View didn't agree and took the corporation, the city, developer Toll Brothers and other parties to court in April, obtaining a temporary restraining order while the litigation continues.

Some who frequent the park called the construction work, already at 100 feet, an eyesore.

Paulanne Simmons, 65, who's lived in Brooklyn for 40 years, said the project blocked a view that she's long cherished.

"Money already owns New York City. It's relevant when money tramples on what people who live here want," she said.

Dave Parry, 34, moved to Brooklyn recently with his wife and dog, and acknowledged the building blockecd his scenic vantage point of the Brooklyn Bridge.

However, "I can't imaging another 30 feet making a difference," he added.

Geoffrey Croft, the president of the watchdog group NYC Park Advocates, applauded Guterman's efforts but said many community groups approved the housing aspect of the park's plans and should have kept a stronger watch on the developers.

"It would have been extremely helpful if the same people fighting for their views now would have fought to prevent the buildings from being built in the first place instead of supporting it," he said in a statement.

Guterman implored more New Yorkers to raise their voices and fight to preserve a treasured part of the city experience.

"People have been coming here from all over the world to see the view and when they arrive they're devastated," he said.

In a statement issued June 11, Toll Brothers, the Pierhouse developers, said the General Project Plan states certain building features, such as "parapets, balconies, bulkheads and mechanical equipment," didn't count towards the building height and they did take into account the community's concerns over the view.

"These features cover less than 15 percent of the roof of the building and extend no more than 30 feet above the roof in compliance with the GPP and the New York City Zoning Resolution.  The bulkheads and mechanicals were intentionally placed on the northern end of the North Building to minimize their visual impact," the developer said in a statement.

(With Alison Fox)


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