‘Stand with the people, not the developer’
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
They came bearing gifts wrapped in bright red ribbons – but these may not be the kind of holiday presents that Mayor Bill de Blasio wants under his Christmas tree.
On Wednesday, the Cobble Hill Association (CHA) and elected officials delivered to City Hall 2,342 petitions protesting a developer’s plans for Long Island College Hospital (LICH). The petitions ask the mayor to “stand with the people, not the developer.”
CHA’s petition – titled “Say It Ain’t So, Mayor de Blasio!” -- says that two alternate proposals presented by Fortis Property Group to the community – an “as-of-right” plan and an ULURP plan involving rezoning -- both include “huge out-of-scale, out-of-context multi-tower development whose towers will overshadow our historic district, overwhelm our streets and schools and greatly diminish the quality of life for thousands of residents.”
The petition adds, “We want you, the mayor of our city, to do your duty!”
“Fortis’ proposal is not acceptable,” Councilmember Brad Lander (Cobble Hill - Carroll Gardens - Park Slope) said at the City Hall event.
In November, Lander said he would work against Fortis’ higher-density ULURP option, which the developer has been heavily promoting. The ULURP plan would entail 43 percent more development in total than the as-of-right plan.
While “sometimes the people’s voice doesn’t prevail … the community’s involvement matters enormously,” Lander told the crowd. He ventured that the petitions would catch the eye of the mayor.
CHA’s First Vice President Adrian (Buzz) Doherty was hopeful.
“I think they may take the petitions under advisement and weigh them in the context of what they’ve heard from other neighborhoods across the city,” he said.
Peter Wertheim, senior adviser to Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for Housing and Economic Development, accepted the bundles of petitions and said they would make their way up the chain.
Noting the red ribbons, he said, “I’m glad I wore a red tie.”
Other public officials at the event included state Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. Representing Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez was Community Coordinator Dan Wiley.
The petition appears to have caught the attention of de Blasio, who, as Public Advocate, had been immersed in the long and ultimately unsuccessful fight to keep LICH open as a full service hospital.
Wiley Norvell, deputy press secretary to de Blasio, said the mayor appreciates “the feedback from voices across this community.”
He added, “We look forward to bringing local officials, community stakeholders, and the developer back together to find the best path forward for this site."
“Any proposal will require far greater levels of detail than previously provided, including exact locations of various elements of access to the medical center, the residential buildings, and any potential school,” the CHA board said in a release on Friday. CHA added that the project’s size “will continue to be a major factor in the community's concern about the project.”
While it is too early to make a decision on legal action, “those options remain under review,” CHA President Laurel Burr told the Eagle.