I don't know about you, but I am never surprised by anything our former City Councilmen/Public Advocate elect Bill DeBlasio does anymore. I wouldn't trust him to water my plants.
Word is now spreading like wildfire through the South Brooklyn blogs that DeBlasio and lobbyist Kenneth Fisher have long been in cahoots with Smith Street's Hannah Senesh Community Day School to acquire, in a sweetheart deal, a lot adjoining the school, on the corner of Smith and 1st Place. Fisher was paid $7,500 by Senesh to lobby the City on Senesh's behalf. Hannah Senesh wishes to big a two-story expansion there. Senesh referred to the land in question as a "parking lot."
Only one probrem. As the blog Pardon Me for Asking succinctly puts it: "It's Not A Parking Lot, It's A Publicly Owned Court Yard."
It's true. Read on:
The "parking area" is actually city owned and protected by a 150-year-old law, which states that the unique wide gardens of the neighborhood's Place blocks can not be built on or used for parking.
That doesn't seem to be a problem if you have out-going Councilman De Blasio on your side.
Without first discussing it with the community, De Blasio will introducing a change in the Administrative Code at the City Council on December 9th. The change would amend the old law by excluding the corner of Smith Street and First Place.
Hannah Senesh will then negotiate with the city to buy the publicly owned land for a token sum ( $1 has been suggested) and build a two story extension.
That, dear Carroll Gardeners, would be a precedent that will have huge repercussions. Where there is one exemption to the law, there easily could be two, or three.
I certainly expect Bill de Blasio to attend the Monday meeting at Hannah Senesh. He owes this community a clear explanation for this blatant abuse of power.
And I hope that Councilman-elect Brad Landers can attend as well. According to Tom Gray of De Blasio's office, Brad has been "in the loop" . After all, the land purchase from the city will happen during his term.
This backroom deal has understandably angered many in Carroll Gardens. It remains to be seen if a 'brief' meeting will suffice.
For those who are interested, below is the text of the old Brooklyn law restricting the use of the Carroll Gardens courtyards from the blog Carroll Gardens Brooklyn History
"The NYC Administrative Codes that protect the courtyards are:
Code §19-132 Restrictions on First Place, Second Place, Third Place and Fourth Place in the borough of Brooklyn. The buildings to be erected upon the lots fronting upon First place, Second place, Third place and Fourth place in the borough of Brooklyn, shall be built on a line thirty-three feet five inches and a quarter of an inch back from the sides or lines of such places as they are now established by the map of the city, and the intervening space of land shall be used for courtyards only.
Code§19-136(b) Obstructions: It shall be unlawful for any person, directly or indirectly, to use any portion of a sidewalk or courtyard, established by law, between the building line and the curb line for the parking, storage, display or sale of motor vehicles."
The lobbying began way back on Jan. 1, 2008, so DeBlasio and Lander knew all about it as they were campaigning for office on their reputations as being great defenders of Carroll Gardens.
Hannah Senesh is a good school run by good people. I know folks whose kids attend it. But, as PMFA points out, there are more important things that a school's expansion. This would indeed be a dangerous precedent. Obviously DeBlasio, Lander, Senesh and Friedman know this, or they wouldn't have kept the matter under wraps for so long.
Since DeBlasio will never admit wrongdoing, I petition Hannah Senesh to show their commitment to the community and step back from this bad, selfish and arrogant idea.
Read more in the NY Post.