Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Brooklyn Bridge Park Advocate Foe Sen. Dan Squadron Resigns

March 22, 2010.  The Gang's All Here.  Officials including Dan Squadron (far left) at the ceremonial ribbon cutting on a drizzly morning.  "The City does not have the money to have new parks and fund them," Mayor Bloomberg famously said. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)    Click on images to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

One of the villains in the fight for control of Brooklyn Bridge Park is resigning from his State Senate seat. 

Good riddance say long time Brooklyn Bridge Park supporters. 

This morning controversial State Senator Sen. Dan Squadron sent out a message announcing his sudden resignation effective this Friday. 

Squadron incurred the wrath of Brooklyn Bridge Park advocates in 2011when he cut a behind closed door deal with the Bloomberg administration which gave up his veto power over allowing housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park. 

Staunch park advocate Judi Francis worked behind the scenes on the state level to achieve veto power over future housing development in the park.  

“He told no one,” Judi Francis said of the betrayal. “It was a body blow to the community,” she said.

“He was able to knock 30 feet off the top of one building, that’s what he got for giving up his veto (power) over three buildings that were on the books and any other future buildings in the park,”  Francis said.   

As part of the deal he also helped negotiate a pop-up pool for five years for the park, an RFP for a year-round recreational facility which never went anywhere and two tennis courts that were supposed to be built on top of a maintenance building but were not.  A Community Advisory Council (CAC)  was also established, an entity Ms. Francis calls, “totally dysfunctional.”

“In 2011 he gave up the most powerful thing a legislator can have which is complete veto power over a development project inside public lands,"  she said.

“After much reflection, I have decided to lend my hand to make a difference in states across the country, pushing policies and candidates that will create a fairer and more democratic future,” Squadron wrote today. 

“It’s not possible to take on this challenge and continue to be a full-time legislator, which is what I always promised I would be," he said. 

Squadron has represented the 26th District which covers parts of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn since 2008.   The vacant seat will be filled in this November’s election. 

While running for the Senate he ran on a platform promising to fight residential development housing in the park. 

Squadron defeated incumbent Senate Minority Leader Martin Connor who served for 30 years, receiving 54% of the vote, a victory many say was won in large part with the help of Brooklyn Bridge Park supporters on the housing issue.  (Bloomberg endorsed Squadron for Public Advocate)

He further infuriated park advocates in 2013 when it was revealed in the media that he accepted more than $ 65,000 from supporters of a residential development inside the park,  He took in contributions from members Brooklyn Bridge Conservancy and several Brooklyn Bridge Development Corp.  board members as well as the president of Brooklyn Bridge Park, Regina Myer. 

The betrayal sill resonates today.  

“Six years ago on August 1st, this man gave up his mighty veto over BBP housing,”  Judi Francis said in a statement.

"Just over two years after his election - an election won on the principle of no housing inside our public parks and won by our advocacy to protect BBP from further housing and using our advocacy to point out the many, many ways to pay for the park. He gave up the veto we had lobbied the state to give to him. Why? To further his own unbridled and unprincipled ambition for his own personal gains,"  she wrote. 

Squadron’s wife Elizabeth “Liz” Weinstein rose to head the Mayor Bloomberg's Office of Operations.

In 2013 Squadron also introduced legislation that would have forced non-profit park groups to allocate a percentage of their incomes to other parks. 

That idea was quickly dismissed. 

Squadron previous worked as a staffer on Congressman Anthony Weiner’s 2005 mayoral campaign. In 2013 he ran unsuccessfully for New York Public Advocate a position won by Letitia James who hammered his flip flop on housing in the park.

“We are happy to see him go,”  said Francis who has worked for more than thirty years to acheive a "real  park" when reached by phone.

The City and State's refusel to take responsibly to fund the park's annual maintiance has been at the forfront of the more than decade long fight.

"The City does not have the money to have new parks and fund them," Mayor Bloomberg famously said at the opening of Brooklyn Bridge Park on March 22, 2010.

In 2010 the Bloomberg administration negoiated a $ 55 million dollar deal to hand over control of the former City/State Brooklyn Bridge Park project to the city.  By insisting that the park be "self-sustaining"  as a condition for the city taking control, the administration successfully achieved one of its most sought after goals – to inherit NY State's funding scheme its employes for the maintenance and operation of its public parkland. 

Much of the funding for the operation of NY State's parks is paid from concession and fee revenue. One of the most contentious issues with Brooklyn Bridge Park is the inclusion of housing that the government insists is necessary to pay for the park's operation.

Remember The Stunning Views - July 29, 2013. The panoramic views have been replaced by housing.

Read More:

A Walk In The Park - August 2, 2011 

A Walk In The Park - February 22, 2011 

A Walk In The Park - December 21, 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment