Brooklyn Councilman ‘Absolutely’ Backs State Takeover of Land for Bushwick Inlet Park
May 20, 2016
Stephen Levin said either the city or the state should use eminent domain to take land that would complete the park.
By JOHN V. SANTORE
Councilman Stephen Levin, whose district includes Williamsburg, said Wednesday that he “absolutely” supports legislation letting the state seize 11 acres of land that would complete Bushwick Inlet Park.
In 2005, the Michael Bloomberg administration promised the creation of a 28 acre park in exchange for permitting Williamsburg’s waterfront to be rezoned. Bushwick Inlet Park currently stands at 17 acres.
“If [the 28 acre park] does not happen,” Levin said, “basically we’re saying commitments the city makes during the land use process are meaningless.”
The Albany bill is being pushed by State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, both of whom represent Williamsburg.
It permits the state’s Empire State Development Corporation to use eminent domain to take over an 11-acre lot on N. 11th Street owned by CitiStorage founder Norm Brodsky.
The state would need to compensate Brodsky for the seizure, possibly to the tune of between $70 and $90 million, according to leading estimates.
Cathy Peake, Lentol’s chief of staff, said Thursday that the city would be responsible for reimbursing the state for its purchase.
After that, the land would be turned over to New York City, which would have one year to add it to Bushwick Inlet Park — or contribute $1 million to a parks fund for every year it doesn’t.
Brodsky could not immediately be reached Thursday for comment.
The bill is currently awaiting a vote of the full Senate.
In the Assembly, it was scheduled for a May 16 vote in the judiciary committee, but Lentol removed it from consideration.
The sticking point, according to Peake, is that the law must be approved by the New York City Council before the full Senate or Assembly can ratify it, since it applies directly to land in a particular municipality.
Both Peake and Andrea Bender, Squadron’s chief of staff, said their bosses are working with members of the Council to move the city’s approval forward, and Levin said he spoke with Lentol on Tuesday and Wednesday about the matter.
However, the City Council has yet to take up legislation authorizing the Albany bill, according to a Council spokesman.
Levin said Wednesday that’s simply because staffers are hammering out what kind of authorization is needed in NYC.
More broadly, Levin said that while he supports a stake takeover of the land, he also thinks the city could use its own eminent domain powers to seize it.
In a recent Daily News op-ed, Squadron suggested the city could pay for the parcel using a portion of future property taxes from the area around the completed park, which are expected to grow.
Levin said he likes that idea, too, adding that it would be “an absolutely appropriate use of that increased revenue.”