"Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future?" Jacqueline Kennedy

Friday, September 26, 2008

Toll Brothers Come To CB6 Complete With Union Entourage

Toll Crew Answering Questions

Toll literature being distributed

Union entourage

LIUNA Member
More unionized construction workers
Resident Steve Miller Speaking Against

F.R.O.G.G. member Marlene Donnelly
Speaking Against

Celia Cacase long time resident
against project

John Hatheway, architect
illustrating the real height impact of Toll's project

The public hearing on the Toll Brothers' Gowanus project before C.B.6's Landmark/Land Use Committee last night was a drawn out affair. The presentation led by Toll VP David Von Spreckelsen, was slick as one would expect. Literature and charts were distributed, a power point presentation was projected on a screen and an environmental consultant made the clean-up of the site's contaminants sound almost routine. No big deal...we do this kind of thing every day...

Then there were the union guys from LIUNA. Their orange T-shirts said: "Building In America. Feel The Power! " They were all for the project. Rah, Rah Rah!

But then there were members of the community who, except for Buddy Scotto of course, had some grave misgivings about the project.

Formost in residents' mind was the toxic nature of the site. Then there were the concerns over the strain on local infrastructure. Questions were raised about the impact study done as part of the U.L.U.R.P. process. Did the study take into account the other development projects that will be completed roughly at the same time and which will add even more school aged children and subway riders.

Carroll Garden architects John Hatheway and Chris McVoy gave a very impressive presentation on the impact 12 story buildings will have on the neighborhood. Calling the development " way too tall, way too dense" Mr. McVoy stated that the application for the zoning change needed by Toll was premature. John Hatheway talked about the fact that the project would be visible from quite a distance. He felt that there had been misrepresentation of the building and that the developer's renderings look 'a lot more palatable than in reality.'

After about three hours, Roy Sloane, CB6 Board Land Use/ Landmark Commitee member, made a very powerful statement explaining why he would be voting against the spot zoning variance. He argued that allowing private developers to build before a general rezoning of the Gowanus area would seriously impede the clean-up of the canal. He felt that"the government would be all too happy to be off the hook." The board has an obligation to the community to make absolutely sure that the pollutants are cleaned up, he told his fellow board members.

He introduced a motion to deny the Toll Brothers the three asked for variences .
Of the 15 Land Use/Landmark Committee members, 6 voted for the motion, 4 voted against the motion, and 5 abstained, which counts as a vote against.
....which means that the hearing will continue next month.

Abstaining? What the....!

As I was leaving the meeting, an acquaintance passed me by and said: "I wish the board would grow some balls."

I know how she felt.

Related Reading:

Gowanus? Love Canal? NO! It's the Clap Canal! on Found In Brooklyn

For Home Page, click Pardon Me For Asking


Anonymous said...

For shame on the Community Board members who abstained. After hours of testimony, with community members clearly concerned about the impacts of this project and the appalling lack of government oversight and responsibility in cleaning up the Canal, we now have to repeat this performance all over again? Why weren't those that agreed to the Toll Brother's plan and those that abstained able to hear what is really going on at the Canal? It is a huge toxic wasteland. The Toll Brothers plan will not clean up the canal. We need a solution to the canal, first and foremost. We know that DeBlasio will never go against the developer and represent his community - too much money to be gotten on the developer side for his political ambitions. But Bob Blum and the others who voted for this thing, before there is a solution for the overall site's pollution? Will you carry dead and dying children to Buddy's morgue when cancer consumes the first residents? The Scotto's will win no matter which way this thing goes - as developers or funeral directors. But Bob, what do you get out of it? Will DeBlasio invite you to his next Christmas party?

Anonymous said...

Of those who spoke in favor of this project, all had some kind of financial gain at stake.

So was it that Toll/GCCDC didn't need to pay off some actual commmunity member to speek in favor because:
A. They couldn't find one. or
B. They owns enough of the Board that they didn't feel a need to show any real community support for this project.
C. both of the above.