Dear Cobble Hill Community,
Hoping you are all staying healthy this winter season. Here are a few CHA updates and matters affecting our community.
THE MATTER OF FORTIS
Persistence and consistency have paid off. As we reported in several previous updates, there have been a tremendous number of complaints from community members regarding the work being done on the LICH sites. These complaints were consistently about 1) after-hours and weekend work that was permitted under after hour variances (AHV’s) granted by the Department of Buildings (DOB), and, 2) reports of excessive noise and airborne debris from the demolition of 339 Hicks Street. Neighbors contacting the CHA also filed complaints with the DOB and asked their neighbors to do the same. They provided contact info when they called 311, rather than leaving anonymous complaints, and provided follow up information to the CHA.
There were also a number of complaints about the doors to the site at 347-349 Henry Street, which were consistently left open and unlocked at night and on weekends, posing a significant safety concern.
The CHA has been in contact with Fortis Property Group regarding these and other issues. The CHA has also been in constant communication with our elected officials about these concerns as well as issues that may arise as the LICH development continues.
State Senator Daniel Squadron drafted a letter (see below) to DOB Brooklyn Commissioner Ira Gluckman, asking that After Hours Variances (AHV’s) not be permitted at the LICH site because of the constant disruption to the community, and that the DOB ensure safe construction site practices. We are thankful to all the signatories on this letter: State Senator Daniel Squadron, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, NYS Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, Council Member Steve Levin, and Council Member Brad Lander. We are especially thankful to Robert Young in Daniel Squadron’s office for working tirelessly to ensure that the community’s concerns and complaints were documented and heard. And, of course, many thanks to the vigilant community members whose time, efforts, and persistence paid off.
As this update was being written, the CHA heard from Daniel Squadron’s office that the DOB has said it will not grant any additional AHVs for any properties on the LICH site. This is a big win for our entire community This ban includes AHVs related to the demolition on the east side of Henry Street (347-349 Henry Street and 112 Pacific Street), directly adjacent to our brownstone residential blocks. Special crane operation and erection of safety sheds or overhead protection may be granted special permits should they be needed.
Please continue to report any violations that you see, including work outside of permitted hours (7am – 6pm), safety concerns or any other known violations.
In addition to our work with the DOB, the CHA has been in contact with the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) concerning the loss of parking and other traffic concerns related to work on the LICH campus. We have been trying for months to be proactive in preventing significant loss of parking and impeded traffic flow. Unfortunately, we have not met with success. The DOT seems to see these concerns from the perspective of the developer. Nevertheless, we will continue to work with our elected officials and CB6 to help us represent our community’s concerns to the DOT.
Toward that end, the CHA has invited Leroy Branch, Brooklyn Community Coordinator within DOT Brooklyn Commissioner Keith Bray’s office, to hear the concerns of the community on the many DOT issues Cobble Hill is facing, including parking, unauthorized truck traffic, signage, and road closures. Look for a meeting date in an upcoming Community Notice.
The CHA board approved the retention of attorney Michael Hiller, an oppositional attorney who has won several cases against developers. Mr. Hiller has agreed to represent the CHA and to help us develop an appropriate legal strategy as Fortis proceeds with their As-of-Right development. We look to Mr. Hiller to help us protect our community’s rights, including those involving the parks, playgrounds, and easements on the LICH campus.
The Urban Planning committee issued an RFP for a Zoning Expert, and has been meeting with several individuals. We expect to hire an expert to help us understand and respond to zoning issues raised by the LICH development, and to ensure that all plans approved by the DOB are in fact contextual and allowable. The CHA is currently studying zoning declarations filed with the city in 2015 and recently on February 1, 2017.
We will continue our biweekly meetings with Fortis to discuss issues related to their construction on the site, and its effect on our community.
We Support Our Neighbors – Poster Campaign
Local resident Quinn Raymond reached out to the CHA and other neighborhood organizations and our elected officials to create a campaign to show solidarity and support of neighbors and community members affected by the Trump administration’s travel ban. The CHA board feels that it is important to support our neighbors, residents, and businesses in this uncertain time. Therefore, we will make available Quinn’s “We Support Our Neighbors” window sign to any local businesses or neighbors who wish to display it.
BQX – The Brooklyn Queens Tramway
BQX is a major mass transportation initiative that has been proposed for our area. The link to the proposal is below. Please take a moment to check it out. Our thanks to the many neighbors who came to our January informational meeting with the BQX team and to those who reached out with their thoughts and comments on this proposal. While the Cobble Hill community feels there is a need for additional and more frequent transportation options for our neighbors, we are mystified as to why this proposal is the solution, and why the routes down Court and Henry Streets were proposed.
The consistent feedback we have heard — and made known to the BQX team — are:
- Why propose a permanent, inflexible transportation mode (tram), as opposed to more flexible and easily adapted buses?
- Why are our narrow historic residential streets even being considered for such a proposal?
- Why do the riders of the BQX need to be dropped off so close to Borough Hall and other MTA sites?
- Is there any coordination between the BQX team and the MTA?
- What about the current overcrowding and poor service on the MTA and how will this work to further negatively impact the system?
- How will developers profit from this proposal?
- What about the cost to communities? In Cobble Hill, our concern is the potential loss of property values, overcrowding, serious safety concerns on our streets and sidewalks.
- Can this project be combined with the BQE refurbishment? Has the idea of covering the BQE ditch with the tramway tracks been considered?
We encourage you to read the proposal and pass along your observations, concerns or questions.
Engine 204; Campaign to reopen the firehouse
Craig Hammerman, CB6 District Manager and the CB6 board have prioritized the re-opening of Engine 204 (DeGraw Street between Court and Smith Streets). The CHA supports this effort. Please see the Brooklyn Paper article below.
Public Service and Safety Announcements
There has been an arrest in the break-in that took place last year on Warren Street. The police can’t provide more information at this time, however, because the culprit is being looked at for other crimes and they do not want to hinder ongoing investigations.
Theft of packages left for residents by various delivery services is a growing problem in Cobble Hill. We mentioned it in our last update, and since then, we have heard from several neighbors about property safety, including packages, cars, and residences.
We called upon Jerry Armer, CHA’s liaison to the NYPD 76th Precinct Community Council, and Detective Paul Grudzinski, NYPD 76th Precinct Community Affairs Officer, to address the community’s concerns: how to thwart such crimes; how to protect one’s property; and general safety concerns.
· Please remember to lock your car doors and do not keep valuables of any kind in your car. Neighbors have had cars broken into and people have been spotted checking car doors as they ride or walk down the street.
· Please make arrangements with your package delivery services to not leave packages on your doorstep. Our modern lifestyle has seen an increase in package delivery and, therefore, an opportunity for some to steal packages left outside.
On the first Wednesday of every month, the 76th Precinct Community Council meets at the precinct on Union Street. Residents with concerns about security and safety are urged to attend one of those meetings, where they can ask questions directly of the Commanding Officer. The next meeting is March 1 at 7:30 PM.
If you have questions in the meantime, you can contact Detective Grudzinski at 718-834-3207. The 76th also offers free home security surveys. If you are interested in having Officer Bredy, the crime prevention specialist for the 76th, visit your home and recommend ways to make it more secure, please call him directly at 718-834-3203.
Finally, if there is enough interest in Cobble Hill, the 76th will arrange a special crime prevention meeting for our community. If you would be interested in attending such a meeting, please respond to this update. The monthly meetings at the 76th do cover our area and concerns, but if enough Cobble Hill residents feel that recent problems are so acute that they require additional attention from the precinct, the CHA will set up the meeting. Please let us know.
We have a new email address: CHA@cobblehill.nyc
And our website will be live next week at cobblehill.nyc
We wish you a safe and healthy rest-of-winter.