Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said today that he is firmly opposed to building over the Sunnyside Yards.
Van Bramer made the statement in response to Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley’s call last Thursday for a study to determine whether it would be feasible to build over a section of the yards, which consists of acres of land covered by railroad tracks.
Conley said at the monthly Community Board 2 meeting that the Sunnyside Yards could be used to build more affordable housing.
Van Bramer said the community is not calling for the development of the Sunnyside Yards. He said people are more concerned about school overcrowding, transportation issues and other problems that actually stem from development.
“My office is in the business of receiving hundreds of letters and speaking to people about important issues all the time,” Van Bramer said. “Not one person has come to me and said ‘you should deck over the Sunnyside Yards and build housing.”
Several Community Board 2 members said after last Thursday’s meeting that they were caught by surprise by Conley’s request.
“I’m opposed to the concept of decking [building] over the Sunnyside Yards,” Van Bramer said. “The idea gets floated whenever there is an economic boom…but I think it would be bad for the surrounding community.”
Van Bramer, as councilman, has a big role to play in terms of land use decisions such as these. All significant zoning changes go through the city council and it is typically the elected official in a given district that makes the call.
Van Bramer said that he too is in favor of affordable housing.
However, he said, “Density is appropriate in some places and not others. I, for one, believe Sunnyside and Astoria are great low-density neighborhoods that should remain so.”
Good for him! But the translation is: "Hey, I live over there."