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Brooklyn Bridge Park, Testimony by Irene Van Slyke

My name is Irene Van Slyke of the Sierra Club, and Chair of the NYC Group’s Open Space Committee. The Sierra Club is a national environmental organization with 13,000 NYC members.

We oppose the proposed Modification to the General Project Plan. The proposed change would allow construction on the uplands of Pier 6 of two residential high-rises with a total of 430 units.

There are two concerns I would like to address: One, the Sierra Club opposes any new development in a flood zone. During Superstorm Sandy Brooklyn Bridge Park was entirely under water. And two, additional new residential development will add to the lack of open space in Brooklyn.

The NYC Planning Department points out that there is a tipping point when there are too many people in a park; the enjoyment of open space is diminished. With this development and numerous other projects in the pipeline where will we create more open space for future residents if we do not preserve it in this park?

The borough of Brooklyn and this part of Brooklyn in particular has very little open space. Brooklyn Bridge Park – a neighborhood and regional facility as well as a tourist attraction – is already overcrowded. CUNY professor Tom Angotti in his analysis of the 2014 and 2015 BBP Corp’s Technical Memorandum points out that in 2014 a visitor count conducted by the BB Park Conservancy showed that 119,000 visitors came on an average summer weekend day and 24, 539 on a summer weekday. These counts do not include the 170,000 visitors who came specifically to 500 free and low cost recreational events and another 10,000 students from 50 NYC schools.

These figures are 4 and 9 times larger than the number projected for the park ten years ago! It also fails to account for the increasing number of tourists and other visitors from all across the city and the world. Professor Angotti points out that the BBP Corp. also failed to account for growth in population around the park leaving out DUMBO and Vinegar hill that saw enormous growth. And, together with Downtown Brooklyn and Boerum Hill grew 11.5 %. The number of people who work in this area also grew by more than 8,500 in the past decade and they have discovered the park as well.