Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Is there any more doubt who owns the open subway plaza? (Nope)


TO: Councilman Bill De Blasio

FROM: Frank J. Verderame

(Former Assemblyman)

Member CGNA Executive Committee


Northwest corner, 2nd. Place & Smith St.,Bklyn,N.Y. - ,

PREFACE: It is "MIND-BOGGLING", and difficult to understand that Mr. Donald Bloomfield of the MTA is still in denial of

any responsibility and of any jurisdiction of the Subway Plaza Courtyard after a legal opinion was issued to him after 10 years of refusing to accept any responsibility; and to this date, another 10 years later, still refusing to accept any responsibility.

We first communicated with each other for 10 years (1988-1998) also with Mr. Hilton Rosen, the previous landowner of the parking lot area, when the Subway Plaza was not being maintained by anyone. We the community, was forced to go to the Boro-President, Mr. Howard Golden, for assistance in clarifying these issues. Mr. Golden' referred the matter to the Corporation Counsel, Law Dept of the City of New York~ for a legal opinion JANUARY 1998. Mr. Theodore Okin, Chief of the Title Bureau

of the Law Dept, issued in JANUARY 1999, a detailed report

of a legal opinion as to the TITLE and JURISDICTIONAL EASEMENTS held by the MTA/NYCTA over the entire SUBWAY PLAZA. A copy of this report was forwarded to Mr. Bloomfield of the MTA by

Mr. Okum, on MARCH 1, 1999. ( A copy of these communications are enclosed herewith)



To better understand the title issues, it is necessary to know the origin of the existence of the COURTYARDS. Back in 1846

and 1850, the particular area of LUQUER STREET, north "to FIRST PLACE; and HENRY STREET east to SMITH STREET, was originally named LUQUER PLACE before the streets were mapped. In mapping these streets, the CITY retained ownership of an area consisting of 33 ft,Si inches from the inside line of the sidewalks, which were to be installed at 13 feet wide, thus a total of 46 ft,Si inches from'the sidewalk curb.

These COURTYARDS, owned by the CITY were placed under the jurisdiction of the Dept. of Transportation with the intention of possibly "WIDENING" the streets in the future. This, after over 150 ye~rs, has not been accomplished or contemplated.

The adjacent landowner was charged with the responsibility for its upkeep and maintenance; and, was precluded by restrictive covenants to build on it, nor use it for a car port or driveway, unless the adjacent building had a legal garage space therein.

The theory for the adjacent landowner to be responsible for the COURTYARD, is that the landowner had EXCLUSIVE USE AND SOLE CONTROL over the COURTYARD. They are used solely for beautification and access to the adjacent landowners property. It should also be noted, ,the COURTYARDS can. not be DEEDED

or TRANSFERRED to anyone else. They are still, today, owned

by the CITY OF NEW YORK and under the jurisdiction of the DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION This why they are called "WIDE STREETS",

which is the loophole that Developers use to build higher than the traditional height, a total misconception of law, and, should never be permitted by the CITY'S BUILDING DEPARTMENT.

In fact, if the COURTYARDS were under the jurisdiction of the BUILDING DEPARTMENT, it would legally follow that, the WIDE­STREET" concept would no longer apply.


Returning to the SUBWAY PLAZA, It appears that in 1928-1931,

the CITY transferred ownership jurisdiction of the COURTYARD areas A, B, C & D ,of the MAP enclosed, to the MTA/NY~TA for purposes of building the SUBWAY system. There does NOT appear

to be any record the MTA/NYCTA ever transferred the ownership/ jurisdiction of any of the COURTYARD areas back to the CITY. This is also true of the COURTYARD area on the southwest corner of 2nd. place and Smith Street. (The COMMUNITY GARDEN)

You will also note therein, the MTA/NYCTA has both SURFACE and

'" .

SUBSURFACE easements of the COURTYARD areas, A,C & D.

PARCEL "A", northwesterly part of the PLAZA, which includes

the SUBWAY stairway, is burdened by both Surface and Subsurface easements for the transit system. These easements are intended to form a part of a PEDESTRIAN CORRIDOR from Second Place to the stairway. Jurisdiction is with the MTA/NYCTA.

PARCEL "C", the southern portion of the PLAZA, is within the

" 1 ~

COURTYARD area of Second Place, officially laid out on the CITY

MAP as an ORNAMENTAL COURTYARD. Jurisdiction is with the MTA/NYCTA.

PARCEL "D", The COURTYARD area west of the PLAZA is likewise rapid transit property. This is the area the MTA/NYCTA permitted the adjoining landowner 'to fence in for the purposes of his parking lot, in VIOLATION of COURTYARD RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS,

as a trade-off for maintenance of the SUBWAY PLAZA, which I might add, was never accomplished, at the expense and detriment of the community.

PARCEL "B", The northeastern part of the PLAZA, which includes the Newstand, is burdened by Subsurface easements only. It would appear from land records to be private property. However, "aside from the newstand, PARCEL "B" is physically indistinguishable from the rest of the PLAZA, and is OPEN and IN USE by the GENERAL PUBLIC "


It was recommended in the Legal opinion, heretofore mentioned, that "it would seem appropriate that PARCEL "B", the remaining fo~rth, be acquired for the rapid transit system.

It was alluded to, by Mr. Stein, that the MTA/NYCTA is contemplating to transfer jurisdiction and the responsibility, to the adjoining landowner, to maintain the entire SUBWAY PLAZA and COURTYARD.

It should be noted that adjoining landowners to CITY owned COURTYARDS have responsibility to upkeep and maintain only because they have "EXCLUSIVE USE AND SOLE CONTROL" of said courtyard. In this case of the SUBWAY PLAZA, Parcel A,B & C, are NOT in anyway under the EXCLUSIVE USE AND SOLE CONTROL of the adjoining landowner, and, as such should in NO WAY have any jurisdiction Df the SUBWAY ~LAZA. The MTA/NYCTA

CAN NOT and MUST NOT be permitted to transfer this jurisdiction and responsibility~ Further, COURTYARDS ARE NOT DEEDABLE.



It should be further noted, over the years the entire SUBWAY PLAZA was paved and trees were planted by the PUBLIC, through various community groups, at NO expense of the MTA/NYCTA, nor the adjoining landowner. In addition, in the 901s, the CITY OF NEW YORK~ when paving the sidewalks of Smith Street, the community successfully a~ranged for the entire SUBWAY PLAZA

to be re-paved and trees re-planted. There is no record of any monetary contribution from either the adjoining landowner,

nor the MTA/NYCTA. They both, ignored and refrained from their responsibility.


1. COURTYARDS are NOT, legally transferable to private landowners.

The MTA/NYCTA MUST NOT be permitted to transfer ownership and/or jurisdiction of the COURTYARD in front of the SUBWAY entrance (Parcel "A") to the adjoining landowner.


2.Created by DPE, Copyright IRIS 2005

3. The SUBWAY PLAZA was ,originally built to form a PEDESTRIAN CORRIDOR to the transit system; and was further intended to be for the EXCLUSIVE use by the GENERAL PUBLIC.'

As it was suggested by the City's LAW DEPT, in their report, Parcel "B", the newstand area, should have been acquired

by the Transit System. It is a direct pathway to the Transit System from Smith Street.

3. The MTA/NYGTA MU~T enforce their SURFACE EASEMENTS on the ENTIRE SUBWAY PLAZA, to keep it OPEN and FREE of encumbrances for the SAFETY and COMFORTABLE access to the Transit System.

4. The SUBWAY PLAZA should be deemed a "pUBLIC DOMAIN" since it was created to be OPEN and NOTORIUS for a COMMON USE by the COMMUNITY, an exclusive use by the GENERAL PUBLIC.

5.As heretofore indi~ated, if the COURTYARD issue of overall jurisdiction was transferred from the CITY DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION to the CITY DEPT OF BUILDINGS, with its restrictive covenants as they presently exist, it would eliminate the WIDE-STREET concept, and, all future opmen~ssues would be eliminated.

SEPT. 17, 2007

Encl: Copies of documents, heretofore mentioned. cc: Assemblywoman Joan Millman

Senator Martin Connor

Congresswoman Yvette Clark




With the "Protect Our Homes" petition, CORD was formed in May, 2007. This petition arose as an overwhelmingly negative response to the coming of the over-sized 360 Smith Street Development at the corner of Smith Street and Second Place (Aka Oliver House; aka 131 Second Place). This petition, which had well over three thousand signatures, led to a new zoning text amendment in summer of 2008.

To: Our Elected Officials, Community Leaders, The MTA:
(MAY, 2007)

We the undersigned Carroll Gardens homeowners and residents, are appalled by the "as of right" ruling which allows owners and developers to erect buildings in our neighborhood with no regard to the impact they will present to our quality of life and the value of our homes........