Thursday, November 13, 2008

Not A Big Surprise: Full C.B.6 Votes Yes For Toll Gowanus Project

CB6 Board at last night's general meeting

Robert Levine

Raymond Lohier

Brad Lander

Debbie Scotto

Mark Shames

23 Yes Votes

10 No Votes
4 Abstained without cause
2 Abstained with cause

Though it was the last thing I wanted to be doing, I did feel as though I needed to attend Community Board 6's general meeting last night. The reason? The full board voted on the Toll Brothers' spot rezoning along the Gowanus Canal as part of the project's U.L.U.R.P. process. I know, I know. I could have stayed home. Of course the outcome of the vote was a foregone conclusion after the board's Landmark/Land Use Committee voted to approve it two weeks ago.

The meeting was held at the Old First Reformed Church in Park Slope. Robert Levine, chairman of the Land Use committee, presented the project.
From some of the comments and questions from board members, it was clear that quite a few had misgivings about voting on the spot rezoning before the city presents a comprehensive plan for the Gowanus area. Board Member Devin Cohen seemed concerned about the shadows cast onto the Gowanus Canal by twelve story buildings. Raymond Lohier mentioned the city's severe budget shortcomings for 2009 and suggested that the city may push back the start of the long awaited clean-up of the waters of the Gowanus. There were more questions and comments about the toxic nature of the land on which the Tolls want to build and mention of the sewer overflow problems.

What was astounding to me was that all these concerns were raised by community board members who are not residents of Carroll Gardens and not by those who live right here and should be representing the interests of the citizens of this neighborhood. Debbie Scotto and her followers have formed a little clique that seem to vote as a block. Not one voted against the Toll spot rezoning last night, easily explaining away health and environmental concerns.
So there you have it, folks. The next step in the U.L.U.R.P. process is a hearing in front of Borough President Marty Markowitz on November 19th.

Oh and just one last thing. I find it inconsiderate when board members play around with their I Phones and blackberries during these meetings. I know that the unpaid position is purely voluntary, but the least these board members can do is to put their phones away and concentrate on the issues at hand until the meeting is over.

CB6 member Elly Spicer paying way too much attention to her Blackberry

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Anonymous said...

I live in the area and thank you to those CB6 members who do not live near the canal and voted against this project.
Interesting that your photos feature CB6 members whose livelihoods are dependent on building. Although this isn't a conflict of interest, nevertheless these people should have recused themselves. They have been bed with Toll since the beginning and do not represent the of the community. I am sorry Mark Shames but walking across the bridge every day on your way to work (as you like to point out at every hearing about canal development) does not qualify you to speak on behalf of those who live and work next to the canal.
These people should be ashamed of themselves.

I hope the members who questioned the wisdom of building on the site are not removed during the next community board purge.

Lisanne said...

Very Depressing.

I guess our only hope is that Toll Brothers business has declined by over 40 percent this week, maybe big Bob will put the kabosh on this project.

Anonymous said...

The vote was closer than anyone thought. 23 in support with 16 not voting for it. If only 4 of the supporting votes when otherwise, the out come would have been a 'no'. We all thought that with such a high outlay of Toll lobbying money everyone would have been voting for this.

Anonymous said...

My attendance had little effect on the predetermined outcome of this vote as I am not a community board member...but I felt compelled to serve as witness to this event and those who have marked their names on the wall of shame in our community.

To be clear, no one who addressed last night's forum had insisted that the development was not wanted, but simply at odds with the inevitable timing of the Gowanus cleanup.

IT TAKES COURAGE TO DO THE RIGHT THING. I witnessed profiles of courage last night as several members without pause defended the safety of OUR community's children and senior citizens. They actually asked the question "what is the right thing here?"

HOW can anyone contemplate building a RESIDENTIAL dwelling on top of a toxic canal? Are they insane? Can't we see through the thin guranteed promises of affordable housing and environmental clean-up?

I applaud the council members who voted 'NO' to defend MY children..I will lobby against those who approved or abstained with the energy of a committed father and member of his community.

Leadership begins with making difficult decisions when others cannot...look around and see the destruction around from the short-sightedness executed in our financial markets and then think for a moment some of the players involved...including TOLL.

Our leaders are elected to protect us, not compromise us.

I am particualrly disappointed with Raymond Lohier and Brad Lander. They are the thin armor of our children and they failed.

Kelly said...

Very well said!

Anonymous said...

I would like to say again, that as a community many of us have worked and reacted to important CG developmnet issues in a unified and tremendously energetic and smart way. It is now time for us to turn that same energy to politics by supporting political candidates that will be more in line with what we want on these issues.


Anonymous said...

I live in the area and am offended that my neighbors commenting on this forum write it is wrong to live in a community that has a legacy of contamination.

A new building is under construction at 3rd / Bond with no disclosure of contamination removal. At least Toll is informing future residents of potential health risks associated with living in the Gowanus community!