Since 2008 the Riverside Tenants Association (RTA) has been fighting their landlord’s plan to build an underground garage in their backyard. Their buildings, the Riverside Apartments in Brooklyn Heights, were built in 1890 by philanthropist, Alfred T. White, who believed that the working poor deserve a standard of living conducive to health and happiness. Today, the eclectic style brick apartment complex hosts a vibrant community of artists, musicians, and young professionals, as well as the elderly, disabled war veterans and families with children who face a stronger than ever threat.
Their landlord has secured permits to build a 90-car underground commercial garage in their backyard, while disregarding concerns of safety and health. While no one likes fuming cars under their windows, Riverside’s motivations are deeper. Building the garage will require the chopping down of several hundred-year-old trees that not only shield our buildings from 140,000 cars that pass through the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) each day, but whose roots help protect the buildings’ foundation. This excavation will also leave tenants without the required fire and emergency egress, cutting off access for fire engines or ambulances to enter. Furthermore, underneath their backyard lies an old sewer system that most likely won’t survive the digging, making the buildings uninhabitable and rendering 150 tenants homeless.
Attorneys are now filing an appeal with the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals and the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) in the hope that Riverside can stop the garage project once and for all. Unfortunately, this doesn’t come cheap. They need to raise $19,000 to cover attorneys’ fees, filing costs and fees for consulting architects. We have been raising some of the money within the tenant's association, but they need your help to win the fight. You can help protect this historical Brooklyn Heights landmarked home and its community, and put this nightmare behind us.
Learn more here: https://www.gofundme.com/st8cg7-help-us-save-our-homes
It’s a pleasure to continue serving the community as we begin a new year!
Brooklyn Bridge Park will be creeping further up into Brooklyn Heights with its newest addition: a public pool in Squibb Park, which sits between Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Bridge Park (behind that large hotel/condo development). Squibb Park is not widely used—it's a large concrete area furnished with just a few benches and a public bathroom; it's mostly accessed to get to the pedestrian bridge.
While Squibb Park isn't technically part of Brooklyn Bridge Park, we're told that "subject to necessary approvals, NYC Parks intends to enter into an agreement with BBP for the development, operation, and maintenance of a pool and optional related amenities at Squibb Park."
This morning BBP will publicly announce plans to build a permanent swimming pool in Squibb Park, though not all details have been ironed out yet. Here's what we do know:
- Like all NYC Parks pools, this pool will be free and open to the public.
- There will be community planning sessions for the purpose of gathering feedback from the public. This input will inform the design of the pool, including size and capacity.
- Will there be an other amenities? "We want the community to help us determine a number of things during the public planning sessions," a rep for BBP told us, including what type of non-swimming activities should be included, and if there should there be a concession.
- The timeline on construction and opening is unclear, first there will be a fundraising campaign and those aforementioned community planning sessions.
- The current pop-up pool at Pier 2 will close down after this season. This is because Brooklyn Bridge Park will break ground on the Pier 2 Uplands project this fall.
- The new pool's hours will likely operate under the pop-up pool hours: between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Construction of the pool is estimated to cost between $10-$15 million. One-third of that will be funded by BBP; Midtown Equities and Alloy Development with Monadnock Construction, and DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners have also dedicated funds toward the project; and the remainder will be raised publicly and privately in partnership with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy.
Eric Landau, Brooklyn Bridge Park President, said, "We are always striving to provide the best amenities and activities for park visitors. The temporary pop-up pool has been a much-loved summer attraction and now we are thrilled to announce plans to bring a permanent pool to Brooklyn Bridge Park."
At the official announcement later this morning, Landau will be joined by Deputy Mayor and BBP Board Chair Alicia Glen, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, AND Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. We will update if any more information becomes available at the press conference.
Update: The pool will likely not open until 2020; community planning sessions will begin later this year.
This is not the first time Squibb Park has gotten a pool; in the 1940s (before it was named Squibb Park) there was a wading pool in the area.
For nearly ten years, Willowtown's own Tim Hoenig watched the intersection of Columbia Place and State Street, often from the vantage of "Bear Park" (Adam Yauch Park), wondering when a speeding car would round the corner and injure an unsuspecting pedestrian, bicycle rider, or skateboarder.
And so in June 2017, he filed a request at nyc.gov for improved signage around the park and a cross-walk. In short time, Willowtown's President Linda DeRosa alerted her contact at DOT, Abigail Inker, of Hoenig's request. They were informed by DOT that new signs would be installed in the months ahead.
Imagine Hoenig's delight when he noticed a DOT employee taking measurements late in the fall of 2017 for the installation of the requested STOP sign. Now, a new cross-walk, park signs, and STOP sign have improved the quality and safety of the intersection.
Willowtown, Plan to attend and have you voice heard.
Public Scoping Meeting
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Dock Street School at 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
19 Dock Street, Brooklyn NY 11201
The New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) is holding a Scoping Meeting and preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) consistent with New York City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) regulations for the replacement or rehabilitation of the BQE / I-278 from Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street.
During the Public Scoping meeting, a presentation at 5:30 p.m. will be followed by public testimony taken on the Draft Scope of Work. The purpose of the scoping meeting is to provide the public with the opportunity to comment on the Draft Scope of Work proposed to be used to develop an EIS for the proposed Brooklyn-Queens Expressway Rehabilitation/Replacement project.This is your chance to speak directly to the engineers and designers who will be making final decision that will affect Willowtown for years to come.
The Willowtown Association stands with Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assembly member Jo Anne Simon working to authorizing the streamlined design-build process in Albany to protect Brooklyn neighborhoods, and save taxpayer dollars. You can also learn more by attending the BHA Annual Meeting on Feb. 28 th. The Draft Scope of Work is available for review online at www.BQE-i278.com and at select public locations, including the Brooklyn Public Library Main Branch. Public comments are requested with respect to matters to be addressed in the Draft Environment Impact Study.
Capacity Fund Grant for Dog Run Improvements
The Adam Yauch Dog Run has in recent years fallen into disrepair. The gravel surface has deteriorated into an uneven field of mud, the water spigot is faulty, and existing benches are sinking into the ground and splintering. Despite active use by many community members, it continues to be an eyesore and potential health hazard to visiting canines and their owners.
Thanks to the work last spring of our President Linda DeRosa posting flyers, the Willowtown Association began receiving emails from dog walkers and neighbors willing to help restore the health of the park as “Friends of the Dog Run”. As a beloved park for the neighborhood, there is a growing collective need to restore the dog run into a cleaner, safer, more welcoming environment.
The Willowtown Association therefore applied for the Partnerships for Parks Capacity Fund Grant to help create, support, and provide the tools and resources for a team of neighborhood stewards to organize regular volunteer clean-up days for sustainable maintenance and care for the dog run long term.
However this is just the beginning. A section of our website will be created and dedicated to being a stewardship hub for the Friends of the Dog Run, where people can receive information, share ideas and photos, offer suggestions, coordinate clean-ups and talk about their dogs. As a result, we envision the dog run will become more welcoming to the community and encourage more use and ideas for improvement.
On November 7, 2016 the NYPD and the 84th Precinct officially introduced the NCO program to the Willowtown community.
Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCO) are assigned to specific precincts to identify and respond to community concerns, and spend dedicated time each day establishing and building relationships with the local community. The plan includes “true sector integrity,” where the same two officers are assigned to the same sector each day, and they are given the training and resources to work closely with the community to address local issues. The ideal way for us to use this new program is to still call 911 for emergencies but to use the NCO’s as the primary people to follow up with. Add their phone numbers and email addresses to your phones for quick reference, and feel free to call them as needed. They are also the best contact for quality of life issues. Their responsibilities include:
- Meet and work with community members
- Identify recurring problems and issues
- Engage the community in their sector
- Find ways to prevent youths from becoming first time, or repeat offenders
With this program, the NYPD is being proactive instead of reactive. Our NCO’s are here to meet and work with us. Please welcome them when you see them on our streets.
- Officers Condon and Hunt work Tuesday through Saturday, from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm.
- John Condon can be reached at (929) 920-1544 or email@example.com
- Donovan Hunt can be reached at (929) 334-6247
NYC Forestry has identified 8 trees along Joralemon Street that will be pruned before the end of November. If there is a specific street tree that is brushing up against your residence or appears too close to a street lamp or cable then please call 311 and be sure to ask for a complaint number in the event that follow-up is required. Sooner is better, folks, because they are planning a visit in the near future.
Wednesday, November 16th, 6 to 9 pm | A.T. White Community Center, 26 Willow Place
Our Annual Meeting is a chance for you to get involved and keep Willowtown special, maybe make it better. Please consider joining the Association's Board of Directors by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This year's meeting will feature a Community Cook Off that is sure to be a delicious and entertaining event with local home cooked dishes served to your friends and neighbors and the added possibility of receiving the coveted Willowtown Association Alfred Award for the winning dish.
Keep an eye out for NYC Parks Tree Pruning Service personnel and please alert them to any of your concerns about distressed tree limbs that pose a threat to passers-by and those limbs that are in contact with buildings, street signs, and lamps.
April 30, 2015 | GARDEN CLEAN UP DAY: Thank you to everyone that helped at the Willowtown Annual Garden Refreshment!! It was a great day.
January 20, 2015 | RESOLUTION: The Willowtown Association passed a resolution of support for the People for Green Space Foundation, Inc. (PFGS) in their fight against BBPDC’s misguided plan to construct a 315 foot skyscraper, or any residential development of Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Association agrees with PFGS that the 10 year old Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must be undated before any responsible decision can be made for development of the Pier 6 site especially in light of the unanticipated growth that Brooklyn has experienced rendering the original EIS projections out dated and irrelevant to Brooklyn’s future. We advocate as they do that we must focus on open space and true parkland for all to enjoy.
LIGHT POLE DEDICATION: A dedication ceremony for the historic Bishop’s Crook light poles that the Department of Transportation has put up on the blocks in Willowtown and nearby took place late Monday afternoon, June 30, on Willow Place. Our member of the U.S. House, Nydia Velazquez, spoke along with Heights preservationist Otis Pearsall. He oversaw this project on behalf of the Brooklyn Heights Association.
GOOD-BYE TO LICH: The long struggle for the survival of Long Island College Hospital ended in June when the Fortis Property Group agreed to buy the 20-building LICH complex for $240 million from the State University of New York (SUNY), its operator for the past three years. Forced by community pressure and the judicial process to issue Request for Proposals a second time, SUNY did so. With community input, the submitted proposals were then ranked. SUNY rejected the first and second choices. Fortis was the third. It was SUNY’s choice among the proposals submitted in the first round. Much of the complex is to be turned into market-rate condos. The medical dimensions are to be an urgent care center, a so-called free-standing emergency room and offices.
HDC GRASSROOTS PRESERVATION AWARDS: "Your agreeing to serve as a co-sponsor of the Historic District Council’s 24th annual preservation party featuring the annual Grassroots Preservation awards is much appreciated and a symbol that our work preserving the city’s neighborhoods benefits from the support and active participation of a broad constituency of community organizations and advocates," HDC Executive Director Simeon Bankoff said in acknowledging the Willowtown Association’s first-time involvement in this event. It took place Wednesday evening, June 4, in the newly renovated Grace Church. Our association’s three officers attended. The awards were presented to Michael Perlman of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council in Queens and the 730 Riverside Drive Tenants Association, the First Avenue Estate Coalition and the Multi-Board Task Force on Midtown East, all in Manhattan. HDC’s "Friend From the Media" award went to The Lo-Down and its "Friend in High Places" award to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
FUNDING OF THE PIER 6 GATEWAY PROJECT: On Friday, June 6, Executive Director Josef Szende of the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District testified before the New York City Council to ask for three annual allocations of $800,000 during the three coming fiscal years to fund the Pier 6 Gateway Project. It is focused on the stretch of Atlantic Avenue from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park to Hicks Street, the southern border of Willowtown. Among the project’s stakeholders Szende cited was the Willowtown Association. The project’s components include enhanced plantings on the berms on each side of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway access ramp, new sidewalk paving, additional street furniture, color treatment of the underpass walls and floodlights to match.
APRIL NEWS REPORT: The struggle of more than a year to save Long Island College Hospital took a decisive turn on Thursday, April 3, with the selection of the newly formed, minority-owned business Brooklyn Health Partners to become LICH’s new owner. As demanded by community and union groups, the $250 million transaction promises the continuation of a full service hospital of up to 400 beds with parts of the property turned into apartments and commercial spaces. Brooklyn Health Partners said that the hospital would be managed by the company Quorum Health Resources and that as many LICH employees as possible would be hired. The choice was made by a panel representing six community groups, one being the Riverside Tenants Association, and the State University of New York. SUNY took over the hospital three years ago and subsequently worked to close it.
“Hospitals and Health Care” and “Streets and Transportation” are among the various issues to be discussed at the 26th State Senate District community convention being held by Sen. Daniel Squadron on Sunday afternoon, April 27, from 2 to 5 o’clock at the Seward Park Educational Campus, 350 Grand Street on the Lower East Side. If you plan to attend, please RSVP by email at, squadron.nysenate.gov, or by calling the senator’s Manhattan office at 212-298-5565.
The March edition of the website Forgotten New York ran a feature on “Brooklyn Heights’ Willow Place” with the photos illustrating how this “tight-knit,” single block contains “a microcosm of the Heights.” The buildings shown were Nos. 4-8 known for the “Davisean” panels uniting the second and third floors; No. 21, a former carriage house; No. 26, the A.T. White Center; Nos. 43-49, a rare “colonnade row”; No. 46 across the street, a less pristine survivor of another such row hemmed in, to quote the copy, by “modern monstrosities”; and the parking garage at the south end, noting the original neon sign.
As part of the 20th annual preservation conference of the Historic Districts Council the first weekend of March, architect Jonathan Marvel of 25 Willow Place was one of three recipients of the HDC’s inaugural Design Award. He was recognized for his rehabilitation in 2012 of Brooklyn’s landmark McCarren Pool and Bathhouse. After operating from 1936 to 1983, the facility was vacated until its now becoming a year-round recreation and community center.
Three single-family, four-story townhouses will soon rise on the next to last vacant site in Willowtown, the former Catholic Charities parking lot at 295 Hicks Street. The one remaining vacant site is at 33 Joralemon. The developer of the new townhouses is SDS Procida, which bought the property in 2012 for $4.325 million. The architect is Nikolai Katz, who also did the modern six-family condo at 322-324 Hicks Street.
Exactly when the contractor engaged by the Department of Transportation to replace the present street lights on the blocks in Willowtown and nearby with 60 historic Bishop’s Crook poles will begin this work is not yet known. It is the fulfillment of a project the Brooklyn Heights Association launched in 2007. Up until 1960 all of the Heights had only Bishop’s Crook poles. They were then replaced by the present Cobra lights. The light values are reportedly the same. The shorter Bishop’s Crook’s, which cost $13,000 each, might make the streets lighter since they will shine from under the leafy tree canopies rather than above and through the tree branches. Concerns raised by Willow Place residents Jonathan Marvel and Joe Merz that the historic poles have “a retro look incongruous to the rugged integrity and variety of architectural gems that cohabit Willow Place” were resolved in conversations and email messages between them and BHA Executive Director Judy Stanton and Heights preservationist Otis Pearsall.
The north side of Atlantic Avenue between Hicks Street and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which is the southern boundary of Willowtown, is slated for “street-scape improvements” being done by the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District or BID in concert with the New York Tree Trust of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation. The improvements include the installation of tree guards, the enlargement of tree pits, the addition of more pits, mulching them and planting new trees.
NEWS 12 INTERVIEWS LINDA DEROSA: Linda Derosa speaks to the pedestrianization of Joralemon Street. April 17, 2014. Willowtown Association wants to block the area where Joralemon & Furman streets meet due to pedestrian safety concerns. The one-way cobblestone street connects the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood directly with the park. The Willowtown Association and other neighbors say many cars speed through the residential area, and as the weather warms, they are concerned about accidents.