Skip to main content

Featured Post

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + FAQ (pinned post)

For public discussion of development, Brooklyn needs a venue

Why is it that some of the most important discussions about Brooklyn, notably Brooklyn developments, take place in Manhattan? Obviously, meetings of the City Council or the City Planning Commission are held in Manhattan, while official hearings in the land use review process are held reasonably near the place at issue, which means Brooklyn.

Leaders in Manhattan

Beyond that, however, there are several options for public discourse, and Manhattan-based institutions like the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) or the Municipal Art Society (MAS), are the leaders in helping further such discourse.

Notably, several MAS panels associated with the Jane Jacobs exhibit last year had a strong Brooklyn focus. Last month, I visited MCNY, way up at Fifth Avenue and 104th Street, to hear a stimulating panel discussion about the future of Coney Island.

A MAS Planning Center Forum titled "David vs. Goliath" on May 14 will include Marshall Brown, the architect behind the UNITY Plan for the Vanderbilt Yard and Candace Carponter of the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, a backer of the plan.

Where's Brooklyn?

Brooklyn institutions and Brooklyn venues should be hosting similar panels. Given the ferment about development--just yesterday the Gowanus Lounge reported on the founding of the South Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance--Brooklyn needs a place where controversial issues can be ventilated publicly. After all, the frequent discourse that has Brooklyn neighborhoods designated the nation's "bloggiest" deserves to surface in real time.

There are places for discourse, among them the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Center for the Study of Brooklyn at Brooklyn College (and other academic institutions), and events sponsored by community boards, the Borough President, civic groups, and neighborhood groups like the Fort Greene Association and the Park Slope Civic Council. And Brooklyn Community Access Television (BCAT) produces a good number of public affairs shows.

However, Brooklyn, given its population of more than 2.5 million, would be the country's fourth-largest city if independent. It deserves its own equivalent of MAS or MCNY, just as it deserves much more press coverage.

Who will step up?

Can any of the Brooklyn groups step up? Maybe a consortium of organizations could take a closer look at development, or join up with a Manhattan-based organization like MAS or MCNY. One good venue might be the library's new, centrally-located auditorium, the Dweck Center.

(See the comments for another good candidate: the new home of the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment, or BCUE.)


  1. Sadly, I'm going to have to go ahead and suggest that the Brooklyn Museum be ruled out as an arena for discourse on the future of Brooklyn development.

  2. Hello! Rebeccah here from the Center for the Urban Environment.

    A local non-profit, we’ve been around for nearly 30 years educating New Yorkers about the built and natural environments.

    But we just moved from the Tennis House in Prospect Park to our new green headquarters near the Gowanus Canal at 168 7th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. It is a state of the art, media ready space with multiple rooms, flexible use, and the ability to hold up to 300 people.

    As part of our expanded public programming, we welcome hosting events on community and economic development.

    Anyone interested should shoot a note to

    Thanks, Rebeccah

  3. I'm not sure if this is the right place for this question, but is there a community liasion for Atlantic Yards yet?

    I'm trying and trying to find out whether the street "infrastucture improvements" will stay at the corner of 6th and Dean or move up Dean St in front of my apartment, a few doors down, and I can't find out. It's so loud every day, and I really won't be able to deal if it's in front of my apartment and not just on the corner.
    Anyone know whom I should contact? I've tried 311 and ConEd, since I see DPW, Con Ed, and Keyspan trucks there all the time.

  4. You can send me an email rather than comment on an unrelated post, but try:
    the ombudsman
    (see contact info here:
    or the Community Liaison Office:


Post a Comment