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Senator Hillary Clinton criticized Brooklyn Bridge Park as “yet another luxury condo project” — and in doing so, became the highest-profile elected official to speak out against the housing, commercial and open-space development that’s being promoted as a park.
Leaders of the Empire State Development Corporation — the state agency that owns the “park” site — have insisted that the project be self-sustaining. As a result, they plan to construct luxury housing as a precursor to recreational development.
“If parks had to be self-sustaining, would anyone have ever built a park?” Clinton asked.
She called the housing scheme “disingenuous.”
“It’s not luxury housing we need,” she added. “We absolutely need affordable housing.”
The project site spans the Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO waterfronts, from Atlantic Avenue to the Manhattan Bridge. The first housing is planned for the foot of Atlantic Avenue; in addition, the massive industrial building on Furman Street, between Joralemon Street and Atlantic Avenue, has been transferred from city to “park” property, allowing its owner to expand the building and convert it to residential use while skirting city review.
Clinton echoed the project’s opponents, questioning why the government would cede public land to private developers.
“Public land should be public land,” she said.
The senator’s summer reading may have prompted her to speak out on the thorny issue. She’s just finished the still-unreleased autobiography of Nobel Prize recipient Wangari Maathai, a long-time green crusader in Kenya.
“One of her great accomplishments was stopping luxury housing in Uhuru Park in Nairobi,” said Clinton, who recommended the book.
Opponents of the state “park” plan applauded Clinton for speaking out. “We are extremely heartened by her remark,” said Judi Francis, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, which is suing the state over the financing scheme.
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, the agency overseeing the development, refused to comment.
©2006 Community Newspaper Group
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