Sunset Park Community Board’s 197-a Plan heard

Community board puts forward its own plan to revitalize industrial waterfront. On October 7, 2009, the City Planning Commission heard testimony on Brooklyn Community Board 7’s plan to revitalize the Sunset Park waterfront. The plan is permitted under section 197-a of the City Charter, which authorizes community boards to propose a framework for future development in their districts. CB7 developed the comprehensive proposal over a thirteen-year period with input from local residents, businesses, and civic groups. The plan addresses a 2.5-mile stretch along the East River waterfront bounded by 15th Street to the north, the 65th Street Rail Yard to the south, the Gowanus Expressway/Third Avenue corridor to the east, and the pierhead line to the west.

The City owns most of the property on the waterfront, including the Brooklyn Army Terminal, South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, Bush Terminal Piers, and Brooklyn Wholesale Meat Market. The waterfront is zoned for heavy and light manufacturing, with pockets of small residential districts. The area served as a maritime and shipping center throughout the 20th century but fell into disrepair during the 1960s and 1970s.

The 256-page plan considers the proposals of other City agencies and makes recommendations to preserve the waterfront as an industrial area, including redeveloping the Brooklyn Army Terminal to accommodate more industrial businesses, creating a waterfront park and recreational facilities at Bush Terminal Piers 1 through 5, and improving Gowanus Expressway access by adding more off-ramps. The plan recommends relocating a sanitation garage currently on the 52nd Street Pier, which serves Community Districts 7 and 10, in order to provide public parking and open space. The Department of Sanitation objected to this recommendation, noting that the facility adequately serves the neighborhoods and is located in a manufacturing district away from residential uses.

At the Commission’s hearing, Jeremy Laufer, CB7’s District Manager, testified that the plan’s recommendations are designed to preserve the waterfront’s industrial character and prevent residential encroachment that would hurt the manufacturing and warehouse industries by raising real estate prices and result in job losses. He pointed out that many of the plan’s goals are already being met by the City, citing the City’s construction of a waterfront park at Bush Terminal Piers. When asked about Sanitation’s opposition to moving the sanitation garage, Laufer said CB7 believes that the waterfront should be used for recreational or economic uses and that storing Sanitation’s trucks along the waterfront is inappropriate.

A representative of the City’s Economic Development Corporation linked the 197-a plan with Mayor Bloomberg’s recently released Sunset Park Waterfront Vision Plan, noting they share the same goal of creating a “viable, working, sustainable waterfront.” The City’s plan is supported by $270 million in funding and expected to create approximately 11,000 industrial and construction jobs. It recommends expanding rail capacity, activating vacant industrial space, and exploring ferry service along the waterfront.

If approved by the Commission, the City Council would have 50 days to vote on the plan.

CPC: Hearing on Sunset Park Waterfront 197-a Plan (N 080396 NPK – 197-a plan) (Oct. 7, 2009).


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