At the start of yesterday’s public hearing on the controversial plan to redevelop the Brooklyn Heights Library, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams asked the packed courtroom to maintain a certain level of decorum, reminding the 200-plus attendees, “we can disagree without being disagreeable.”
After the impassioned outbursts at July’s community board meeting on the Heights Library project, Adams seemed determined to keep things civil, saying:
“There is no way the most highly educated part of our city cannot come to an agreement on how we move forward to navigate the challenges of this conversation. This library conversation is only one of many… If Brooklyn can’t get it right, no other city is going to get it right.”
Architect Jonathan Marvel discusses the design of the proposed new building, with developer David Kramer and Brooklyn Public Library President Linda Johnson behind him.
But based on the opinions of last night’s speakers, the community appeared more polarized than ever. Following short presentations on the proposal given by Brooklyn Public Library President Linda Johnson, developer David Kramer of Hudson Companies, and architect Jonathan Marvel, the podium was open for comments.
Library workers seemed unanimously in favor of the project, which would give Brooklyn Heights a “21st century library” with much-needed working air conditioning.
Several Brooklyn Heights residents passionately opposed the plan, invoking the problems of Manhattan’s Donnell Library project — a development that similarly sold public library land to a developer in exchange for cash and a new branch building. After seven years, the Donnell branch has yet to reopen.
“To sell a piece of the public trust for one-time profit is to lose it forever,” said attendee Paula Glaser, addressing the crowd. “There is no way around this.”
Representatives from Build Up NYC, a pro-development coalition of workers, urged Hudson Companies to hire union labor for the project.
Borough President Adams ducked out of the meeting after an hour — without revealing his recommendation on the proposal to the City Planning Commission. After Adams submits a recommendation, City Planning will have 60 days to hold another hearing and approve, disapprove, or modify the plan. If it is approved, the proposal will move on for review by the City Council and Mayor.
Photos by Barbara Eldredge
More on the Brooklyn Heights Library:
Brooklyn Heights Library — Developer Reveals Clinton Hill Affordable Housing [Brownstoner]
Brooklyn Heights Library — New Rendering Revealed for Library Condo Tower [Brownstoner]
Brooklyn Heights Library — Hudson to Develop New Brooklyn Heights Library [Brownstoner]
Tensions are high @ Brooklyn Borough Hall hearing regarding plans for Brooklyn Heights Library pic.twitter.com/4fFhridDlY
— Jessica Nieberg (@JessicaNiebergg) August 19, 2015