An Important Meeting for Admiral's Row
The historic buildings in the Brooklyn Navy Yard known as Admiral's Row will have an important hearing next week when a hearing is held about transferring six acres of property from Federal control to the city. The city is planning to demolish the buildings to make way for a supermarket and parking lot while preservations are trying to save them. The meeting will take place Tuesday, December 11th from 7 to 9 pm at PS 307, located at 209 York Street (2 blocks north and 1 block west of the Navy Yard). An Army Corp of Engineers consultant will present a formal report on the condition of the buildings. Advocates have claimed they can be preserved and city officials say they are too deteriorated. The Historic Wallabout Association has produced talking points that back the transfer of the property and the construction of a supermarket on the site, but that urges "the adaptive re-use and restoration in whole, or in part, of the historic Admirals Row to allow for benefits to the local community including food, and job placement and training." It also says that "Federal agencies should restrict the transfer with a requirement that the City appoint a task force of local stakeholders to arrive at a community plan that meets these objectives and is economically viable." In the meantime, Brooklyn's Other Museum of Brooklyn continues to wage a campaign to preserve the Admiral's Row houses. Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. President Andrew Kimball says there is "no option" but tearing down the historic, but deteriorated structures.
Anyone that has seen the Admiral's Row buildings or spent time looking at them understands they are not in good condition. Yet, it does not require a leap of imagination to realize they would be invaluable assets to future generations if they were restored. They are part of Brooklyn history and losing them will simply add to the long and sad list of losses that Brooklyn has experienced during the current development boom. It would be hard, in fact, to come with a story for one's grandchild that would highlight our disregard for history more strongly than ripping down more of Brooklyn's history for the sake of building a supermarket parking lot.
If it happens, some of those children will grow up and mock the early 21st century public officials that allowed it the same way we shake our heads in disgust today at the mindset that allowed the destruction of Penn Station in the 1960s. No, the Admiral's Row buildings are not Penn Station, but the mentality that allowed the cultural vandalism that destroyed it is the same one plaguing Brooklyn today. The Bulldozer and Wrecking Ball School of Brooklyn Urban Planning will look just as short-sighted and ugly a couple of generations from now.