City backs plan to create plaza by linking Brooklyn Bridge parks

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission signed off this week on plans to link the Brooklyn Bridge’s two waterfront parks together with a new plaza and green space that would sit under the iconic span.

It’s the final piece of a decade-plus long push to revitalize the once-industrial waterfront of Gotham’s biggest borough, which was largely filled with dilapidated warehouses and parking lots until its transformation into park space.

The new $8 million Brooklyn Bridge Plaza will allow New Yorkers to easily walk from the northern portion of the waterfront park — home to the famed Jane’s Carousel — under the bridge to Pier 1, which sits to the immediate southwest. – New York Post https://nypost.com/2020/05/20/new-plaza-gets-city-ok-to-unify-brooklyn-bridge-park-waterfront/

Virtual Spring Benefit

Please join us from 7-7:30pm on June 8 for our first ever virtual Spring Benefit as we:

  • Honor Walter L. Harris with the The Schiff Community Impact Award;
  • Pay tribute to David Rivel,our CEO who will be retiring;
  • And celebrate young leaders Emily LevineSam LevineJack Lipschultz, and Rachel Solomon.

We are experiencing a truly defining moment for New York City. Members of our community are suffering anxiety, stress and depression in surging numbers. Our neighbors are in great need. The Jewish Board is responding and is fully engaged as a critical, front-line provider of mental health services. Read more: https://secure.givelively.org/event/jewish-board-of-family-children-s-services-inc/2020-virtual-spring-benefit/2020-virtual-spring-benefit

BQE reconstruction presents a post-pandemic opportunity: a chance to get it right

In the first half of the 20thcentury, Robert Moses oversaw the design and construction of a multitude of notable public projects. Many were considered beneficial and were widely used, but others generated equal amounts of opposition and controversy. Of those structures, few if any have provoked the ire of the city’s residents more than the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway

When the BQE was constructed, it cut through several Brooklyn and Queensneighborhoods, causing large-scale resident displacement and the destruction of many communities. Some neighborhoods were spared, but many industrial and lower-income neighborhoods were less fortunate.

Now, more than half century later, we are presented with an opportunity to correct the wrongs of generations past. It’s time that we implement a grand vision for the BQE that incorporates environmental and human-centered design, with an approach that knits together all communities, rather than prioritizing one over the other. It’s time to redesign, reconfigure and reconstruct the entire BQE corridor—from the Verrazzano Bridge through the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.

As we face a daunting financial climate due to the Covid-19 pandemic, investing in infrastructure such as the BQE will generate good-paying jobs and help jump-start the city’s economy.

Construction is one of the largest industries in the city. Reconstructing the BQE will not only make the entirety of the expressway safer, but it will have the added benefit of contributing to our post-pandemic recovery.

One portion of the BQE—the triple cantilever, atop which rests the iconic Brooklyn Promenade—has received a disproportionate level of attention. To fix only that 1.5-mile stretch of the BQE at the expense of the rest of the corridor would be shortsighted. We cannot squander an opportunity to implement a truly transformational vision that encompasses the entirety of the 20-mile roadway, including the Bay Ridge trench, the Gowanus Expressway, the trench in Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill, the area between Downtown Brooklyn through Greenpoint and the roadway north of the Kosciuszko Bridge into Queens. Each of these sections, along with the triple cantilever, must be repaired or replaced in the coming decade—so why not do it all at once in a cohesive way?

A long-awaited and much-deserved fix for the roadway, prioritizing the safety of the public, must begin now. Before we jump into a multibillion-dollar construction makeover of the triple cantilever, we owe it to the residents of our great city to execute a broader vision. We have it in our power to see through a plan that allows for an environmentally sustainable and safe road.

Beyond repairing and restoring the structural integrity of the BQE, the city and state should pursue a range of innovative strategies to address core issues.

Given the enthusiasm of local communities and stakeholders for a visionary plan, it is just as important to include the public in discussions surrounding design and construction as it is to identify some of the challenges related to the reconstruction and revitalization of the BQE. Any plan, even an innovative one, must consider the engineering, construction, political and financial complexities inherent to turning that vision into reality. Nevertheless, the challenges present us with noteworthy opportunities.

New plans should incorporate design changes that would increase driver safety and help prevent car accidents by providing wider, two-lane highways in each direction, creating shoulder lanes where nonexistent and increasing the length of mergers where possible. We should build smart roads that incorporate methods of easing traffic and communication, while penalizing those who violate rules.

Some of the proposals to reimagine the triple cantilever that have received the most public attention would add acres of new parkland, scenic views and other amenities that encourage community engagement and recreational activities. Significant consideration of communities’ wants and needs should be given so that these benefits are inclusive, making use of existing land while creating new urban spaces and development opportunities where appropriate from the remnant property.

Following such a strategy, planners will have an opportunity to reconnect communities that were severed in the original plan and bring neighborhood-friendly designs that reinforce existing character and link areas to the waterfront, like in Sunset Park, or connecting Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens to the Columbia Street waterfront. In Dumbo, we can create better connections between the BQE and nearby bridges, removing thousands of vehicles from clogged streets and shortening and facilitating currently difficult commutes.

A new corridor plan could address the concerns of Greenpoint, Williamsburg and other neighborhoods that are impacted by the imposing concrete structure of the BQE—while adding much-needed parkland. Further, all new construction should strive to minimize air pollution and noise, in keeping with our city’s clean-energy agenda. Neighborhoods such as Sunset Park, Sunnyside and Woodside, through which the BQE runs, suffer from some of the worst air quality and asthma rates in the city and stand to benefit the most.

The city, state and federal governments must come together now and build a new BQE. In light of the project’s scale and the time it will take to bring a corridor-wide plan to fruition, a working group composed of the three levels of government should be convened in order to coordinate the legislative and executive action required for the development and implementation of our vision for the BQE. Such an entity can manage roles and responsibilities among relevant government agencies and partners, ensuring active communication with all stakeholders throughout the process.

We owe it to New Yorkers to go one step further and genuinely engage the communities that stand to be most affected, ensuring a vision that is both sweeping and egalitarian.

There is no viable alternative but to tackle the situation head-on. We cannot put commuters and passengers at risk, reacting responsively rather than engaging in a proactive path that should begin now. It is our civic duty to envision a better BQE for all.

Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the New York Building Congress, heads Mayor Bill de Blasio’s expert panel for the BQE. – CRAINS NEW YORK BUSINESS

Formerly Bouncy Squibb Park Bridge Reopens -Brooklyn Bridge Park

A small group, masked and practicing social distancing, let out a spontaneous cheer as the gate leading to Squibb Park Bridge was unlocked this morning. With blue skies and a chance to finally get back onto the walkway, eager peds waited patiently to give each person space to descend the ramp, enter the park and finally step onto the bridge.

The reopening of the troubled Squibb Park Bridge has been a long time coming. The former bouncy wooden walkway is gone, replaced by a brand new steel and aluminum walkway designed by Arup and installed on the original supports. 

Park visitors strolling the new walkway this morning enjoyed the return of the spectacular views and access to Brooklyn Bridge Park from Brooklyn Heights. More photos: https://www.brownstoner.com/development/squibb-park-bridge-opens-brooklyn-bridge-park-2020-photos/

Jack the Horse Tavern for sale

While national headlines talk about retailers like Neiman Marcus and JCPenney both filing for bankruptcy, closer to home it was noticed that owners of Jack the Horse Tavern On Hicks Street have put their space on the market and will likely not return. Sad neighborhood news indeed.

Neighborhood Updates:

PARK PLAZA DINER will reopen for delivery service Wednesday, May 6th (718) 596-5900
CITYMD on Montague Street is now offering COVID-19 testing. See link below for details. You need to be exhibiting symptoms or have recently been in close contact with someone who tested positive. Check out the details before going over there.
(Click on Link Below)

https://www.citymd.com/news/covid-19-testing-update

CITY COUNCIL APPROVES PLAN TO TURN JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES TOWER INTO HOUSING FOR FORMERLY HOMELESS

The City Council voted unanimously on April 22 to allow a non-profit developer to convert a Downtown Brooklyn tower previously owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses into housing for the formerly homeless. The Council’s approval of the tower’s rezoning paves the way for a renovation that would add more than 500 affordable apartment units to the 29-story tower at 90 Sands St, said the building’s developer.

“We’re on our way to bringing approximately 500 much-needed affordable units to DUMBO, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the borough,” said Brenda Rosen, the chief executive of Breaking Ground. “We are especially grateful for the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Members Stephen Levin and Rafael Salamanca in championing the development of new supportive housing for the most vulnerable New Yorkers.The Council’s vote is the last step in the land use review process before the rezoning application moves to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is expected to back the Council’s approval.

Breaking Ground — a non-profit that already hosts some 4,000 units across the city — plans refurbish the 1992-built tower between Jay and Pearl streets that once housed volunteers for the Christian evangelist group, adding 305 “supportive units” for recently homeless people and 202 below-market-rate rentals.

The “supportive units” will come equipped with social services to help residents find jobs, treat their medical needs, and transition into the housing, while the 202 other units will be open to households that make 30-100 percent of the area’s median income, which is currently set at $96,100 for a family of three. The 202 affordable units will range from $504 for a studio to $2,000 for a one-bedroom. -The Brooklyn Paper

Borough Hall Farmer’s Market In A Time Of Social Distancing

Saturday was perfect weather for a visit to the farmer’s market at Borough Hall. Being the weekend (yes, what is a weekend?) and beautiful out, more people were out and about than in recent weeks. But at the farmer’s market, calm and order ruled the day. Shoppers were advised to keep a distance and to not touch any of the goods. There were chalked signs on the ground marking the spots for shoppers to stand in line. There was fresh air and fresh produce, and a feeling that maybe we’ll get through this afterall. Just look at this expert social distancing.

Read full story here: http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/90834

James Weir Florist Reopens for Delivery and Pickup

Montague BID announced today that James Weir Florist has reopened for pickup and delivery.

No idea what day it is? It’s less than 3 weeks until Mother’s Day, call in your order! Sick of looking at your walls and furniture? Spruce up your home with some plants! Have you been annoying your spouse as of late? Make it up with some flowers! Is your teenager extra angsty these days? Cheer them up with a bouquet!

Check out James Weir’s website and call (718) 624-0270. – Brooklyn Heights Blog

Brooklyn Heights-DUMBO, NY Coronavirus Updates & News For April 18

Latest coronavirus headlines from Brooklyn Heights-DUMBO, New York City and across New York:

Details on these stories and more:

https://patch.com/new-york/heights-dumbo/covid-19/2020-04-16