Town Hall

Mayor Bloomberg, looking for answers in Greenpoint.

So the Mayor came to Greenpoint, and Greenpoint (mostly) behaved itself.

The show was organized by North Brooklyn Development Corp., and was not open to general questions. As it was, fewer than half the planned questions were put to the Mayor. (As predicted, there were plenty of soap boxes mounted, and most questions went on too long (mine included) but NBDC did a good job of keeping things moving and people (mostly) on message.)

It may have been overlooked, but if there was a single newsworthy item, it was that City Planning has finally completed its contextual zoning study for Greenpoint & Williamsburg. This is something the Community Board has been working with DCP on for over a year now, so we are anxious to see the details. DCP Commissioner Amanda Burden did announce that all of Greenpoint would be getting contextual zoning (as recommended by the Community Board). That means no more finger buildings, no more community facility bonuses, and more opportunities for inclusionary (affordable) housing.

Elsewhere, the DOB discussion focused entirely on the issue of construction safety, as illustrated by the case of one homeowner whose foundation was undermined two years ago and is still homeless. DOB Commissioner Patricia Lancaster had, frankly, the usual response – we have more inspectors, new special enforcement teams, the ability to hold contractors criminally liable, blah, blah, blah. Bloomberg did step forward and promised to get involved in this particular case “next week”1.

Unfortunately, none of the larger issues revolving around DOB’s lack of enforcement were even raised – lax zoning enforcement, enforcement of stop work orders, issuance of after-hours variances, trucks running into neighboring buildings while pouring concrete on a job with a stop work order in effect, and so on. But the highlight of this segment was the resounding hiss elicited by the mention of everyone’s favorite architect.

On the question of displacement, the issue was largely framed by a single case – 202 Franklin Street. HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan promised to look into whether the Department could use emergency funds to effect repairs to the building (and at Bloomberg’s prompting, promised an answer tomorrow).

The G train is not a city issue, so it was easy for Bloomberg to make promises there. He promised to call MTA Director Elliot Sander tomorrow (though he conceded he might not get through until next Tuesday), and to raise the issue with Governor Spitzer, also tomorrow.

That’s as far as NBDC got on its agenda, and that’s when the, ahem, more passionate and vocal members of the community felt compelled to speak out. Bloomberg did stay on for a lightning round of questions from NBDC, in which we learned that Parks has allocated $200 million for capital projects in north Brooklyn and an additional $100 million to acquire parks property at the Bushwick inlet site (a contentious issue, as some of that property is owned by the non-profit Monitor Museum).

And, I finally got to meet Miss Heather. I’m sure she has a slightly less wonkish take on the evening’s festivities.

1. Bloomberg showed his mettle as a manager, constantly asking for goals or deadlines. Commissioners were put on the spot and asked to meet specific deadlines in getting back to questioners, meeting certain goals, etc. And the Mayor himself promised to follow up on some items personally. Schtick or not (and I get the impression that this is really how he works), it was effective and impressive.