Brooklyn Strand Project: Fort Greene Residents Voiced Concerns In Community Workshop

They had to find more chairs. On Monday evening, a group of more than 70 people — architects, city representatives and Brooklyn residents — met at Fort Greene’s Willoughby Senior Center to talk about the future of the neighborhood’s public spaces.

Hosted by Community Board 2 and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, the workshop was part of the Brooklyn Strand. The multi-year, multi-part effort is spearheaded by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and WXY Architecture, and seeks to improve public space around the Brooklyn Bridge and BQE from Borough Hall to Commodore Barry Park.



It’s a busy week for urban planning in New York City. There was Monday’s Museum of the City of New York panel on preservation and development, and today City & State is hosting the New York Moves: Transportation conference. Yesterday, Cities for Tomorrow considered the future of urban life in New York City and beyond.

With Brooklyn on everyone’s minds these days, it comes as no surprise that the Cities for Tomorrow conference had a number of Brooklyn-relevant moments. From discussing the borough’s future tech boom to debating the merits of P.S. 103 in Windsor Terrace, here are Brownstoner’s three favorite Brooklyn moments:


participatory budgeting map

The votes have been tallied in all the City Council districts taking part in the City’s participatory budgeting process — where citizens get to develop and then vote on projects in their neighborhoods that will be paid for by the city. And now the results can be seen on an interactive map. City Council districts are clearly marked, and by clicking on each project, you can find out how much is being spent to do what.

When we last checked in on the process, votes had been tallied only in districts 33, 39 and 45. Now results are in for the rest of the borough’s participating districts: 34, 44, 47 and 38 (not all council members participated in the process).

In District 34, which includes Bushwick and Williamsburg, $700,000 will be spent to upgrade the playgrounds at the Williamsburg Houses and at Brooklyn Arbor School and pedestrian safety will be improved on Meeker Avenue, among other projects.



Brooklyn is where the developer action is — not Manhattan or any other borough. More new-building permits were filed in Brooklyn in April than anywhere else in the five boroughs, according to an analysis of Department of Buildings data by The Real Deal. (You may remember last month, its analysis found more development in Bed Stuy than any other neighborhood in the city.)

But, it was a slow month in general, the story acknowledged. Here are the stats: 17 residential projects with a total of 495 units as well as one commercial project filed in Brooklyn. That far outstrips the next runner-up, Queens, where four residential projects with a total of 117 units and two commercial projects were filed.

It’s not just a blip, though. (more…)

mcgorlick park playground

Next week residents in seven city council districts in Brooklyn will be able to vote on how to spend millions of dollars in city funds. The process, called participatory budgeting, is designed to give the public a voice in how to allocate resources. Each district will have about $1,000,000 to spend on winning projects.

Last year residents of District 33 chose to upgrade the playground at McGorlick Park in Greenpoint, pictured above. This year projects on the ballot include a $400,000 renovation of the community center in Cooper Park in east Williamsburg, $260,000 to plant trees and install tree guards in Sunset Park, and $225,000 for technology improvements at three public schools in Bensonhurst. (more…)

4th avenue and 9th street subway station park slope 22015

For the fourth year in a row, City Council Member Brad Lander is organizing info sessions and voting for participatory budgeting. Lander has committed $1,500,000 from the city budget to make five public works projects a reality, and residents of the 39th District will decide how the money will be spent.

There are 13 proposals on the ballot, including an art installation for the 4th Avenue-9th Street subway station (pictured above), a storytelling garden at the Park Slope Library, new technology for local arts nonprofits, an A/C for the cafeteria at P.S. 124 in Park Slope, and street greening projects in Windsor Terrace and Gowanus. (more…)

windsor terrace library wiki commons

It’s that time of year when Brooklynites can decide how their tax dollars will be spent by attending participatory budgeting meetings on transit, parks, arts and education. Councilmember Brad Lander’s office has organized five meetings between now and the end of the month, to which anyone can come and suggest projects that deserve funding in the 39th Council District. (Here’s a map of the district, which encompasses Columbia Street Waterfront, Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Gowanus, Park Slope, Kensington, Ditmas Park, Carroll Gardens, Prospect Park, Windsor Terrace and Borough Park.)

Projects funded by the last round of budgeting included laptop carts for elementary school students, street safety improvements on 4th Avenue, a green roof at the Windsor Terrace Library (pictured) and an outdoor plaza at the John Jay Educational Campus in Park Slope. Click through to see the schedule and how to RSVP. (more…)


A larger than anticipated crowd of over 200 people showed up to discuss their concerns and wishes and help plan the future of Gowanus development Monday night at The Children’s School on Carroll Street. The meeting was the first of a series of public planning forums called Bridging Gowanus convened by local politicians about the ongoing development of and cleanup plan for Gowanus. The Pratt Center for Community Development moderated and presented findings from previous invitation-only meetings held over the summer.

City Council Member Brad Lander remarked that with the EPA’s Record of Decision for the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site and the impending transition at City Hall, it’s an important moment for the community to come together and establish a shared vision for the infrastructure of the low-lying and industrially polluted Gowanus area before planning begins. The consensus of the crowd was that every effort should be made to preserve the area’s socioeconomic diversity and keep it affordable for the mixed uses (manufacturing, residential, commercial, artistic) that currently exist. A number of local artists in attendance expressed fears of gentrification and said they felt threatened by the diminishing affordability of studio space. In brief, locals called for a rezoning to preserve affordability and Gowanus’ eclectic identity as a community with vibrant street life and activity.

Other issues raised included the need for a permanent protection plan against coastal disasters; it was noted that the current recovery infrastructure is insufficient to handle even regular rain. The group also said another priority is more schools and suitable health care facilities to accommodate the area’s growing residential population. They would also like the canal to be opened up as a recreational public waterway.

A series of followup meetings will be held early in 2014. In the meantime, anyone interested in joining a working group can contact

Gowanus Residents Meeting to Create Development Plan [Brownstoner]

We spotted a construction fence up at 291 Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, where a garage was demolished in June. DOB records show the owners are planning a five-story apartment building with 27 units. They’ve been approved to build 19,196 square feet of residential space with a little bit of commercial space on the 7,251-square-foot lot. The permits haven’t been issued yet.

Williamsburg Garage to Be Demolished [Brownstoner] GMAP

A study of the participatory budgeting process that took place in Brooklyn’s District 39 this year revealed that it attracts traditionally disengaged or disadvantaged citizens, reported DNAinfo. “Through about 7,300 city-wide surveys and 82 exit interviews, the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center found that participatory budgeting, where community members can decide how to spend $1 million in taxpayer money on neighborhood improvements, attracts low-income, minority and women voters, as well as those disillusioned with the government,” the story said. More specifically, more than 60 percent of participants were women, a third were people of color and almost a quarter reported incomes below $35,000. More than half said they disapprove of how the City conducts business and a third said they rarely vote. The process also provides a way for the disenfranchized to participate in politics. About 600 of the participants are not allowed to vote, either because of age, citizenship or arrests. District 39 is repped by Council Member Brad Lander and includes Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Gowanus, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, and Borough Park.
Participatory Budgeting Brings in Women and Minority Voters [DNAinfo]
Photo by South Slope News

Turns out not everybody’s happy about the decision to go ahead and build apartments on the north end of Brooklyn Bridge Park on an empty lot at John Street. Local politicians and community members are concerned about flooding in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, reported The New York Daily News. The location and much of the park was submerged under four feet of water during the storm, according to the News. However, the 13-story building will be designed with flood protection in mind, including a raised ground level and mechanicals on a top floor, said park officials. Retail and 110 parking spaces are planned for the ground level. “We now know what a big bad storm can do to Dumbo, and it ain’t pretty,” the Daily News quoted Council Member Steve Levin of Greenpoint as saying. “We need to re-evaluate how we build along the water and this would be a great place to start.” Revenue from building fees and taxes will help go toward park costs. Condo plans for another park location have been criticized as private giveaways of public park resources. Meanwhile, the New York City Council has proposed legislation to require anti-flooding designs in new and renovated buildings.
Local Pols Question Plan to Build Lux Condo in BBP Flood Zone [NY Daily News]
In Sandy’s Wake, City Council Proposes Anti-Flooding Regulations [TRD]
Brooklyn Bridge Park Seeks a Residential Developer [Brownstoner]
Image via BBP