Community Members Sought Disclosure
By Zach Campbell
BROOKLYN — The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC), in response to a request made under the state Freedom of Information Law by the Brooklyn Eagle, released this week the members’ names of the selection committee that will decide the future of the hotel and residential development at Pier 1.
The committee is made up of four people: Regina Myer and David Lowin of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, Joshua Laird of the city Parks Department and Joshua Gelfman of the New York Economic Development Corporation (NYEDC).
The seven proposals being considered were presented last month at a meeting of the park’s Community Advisory Council (CAC), a community group responsible for oversight of the development corporation.
Many community members, elected officials and members of the CAC itself expressed their dismay at what they described as a selection process that was not transparent and involved little input from the community.
“I found it very difficult that the community wasn’t allowed to know who would be making the selection on what is such an important development in the park,” said Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, adding that few were surprised by the group’s makeup. “It seemed nonsensical to keep that a secret,” she added.
Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation staff, during and after the November presentation of the responses to the park corporation’s request for proposals (RFP), affirmed that it was “not city practice” to reveal the names of RFP selection committees. They said it would hamper the negotiations between developers and the city.
Still, according to the Committee on Open Government, the New York state body that deals with Freedom of Information Law, this is public information. “There is simply no doubt that it is a governmental agency required to comply with FOIL,” said a spokesperson for the agency.
Members of the CAC, Community Board 2 and a few local elected officials are pushing to have more input on the process, a process that they say will greatly impact public space in the borough.
“I am still disappointed that no one from the community has been given a formal role in the selection process,” said City Councilman Steve Levin, who represents much of the area surrounding the park. Levin has repeatedly suggested that the selection committee should include industry experts who work outside of city government.
“A selection committee made up of just four members, all of whom work for city agencies,” he said, “is not sufficient for a project that will forever alter the Brooklyn skyline.”
* * *