Stars speak out against Brooklyn development

Gabriel Byrne, Helen Hunt oppose proposed high-rise

Gabriel Byrne, Helen Hunt and Gary Sinise are among a group of celebrities speaking out against a planned building in Brooklyn that critics say would block views of the Brooklyn Bridge and its anchoring presence in the neighborhood, an activist group said Wednesday.

The DUMBO Neighborhood Association in New York said that the three stars along with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, Ana Gasteyer ("Saturday Night Live," "Mean Girls") and Skipp Sudduth ("Third Watch," "Law & Order") have added their support to the opposition of the proposed 18-story building known as Dock Street. It would stand just 70 feet from the Brooklyn Bridge in a generally low-rise neighborhood, according to the group.

"This huge building will dwarf the Bridge on the Brooklyn side, causing irreparable damage to the Bridge's singular and majestic presence," DUMBO cited Byrne as saying. "This architectural and pioneering feat of 19th century engineering stands as a testament to American ingenuity and persistence, an iconic symbol of Brooklyn and the City itself." The actor had originally submitted these comments to a recent city planning meeting.

DUMBO, an acronym that stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, is one of the borough's hip neighborhoods.

Doreen Gallo, executive director of the DUMBO Neighborhood Association, said she was very pleased with the added Hollywood support. "This is an issue that touches anyone (professional or amateur) who has ever shot or will ever shoot this beautiful icon," she said about the bridge.

A vote at the Department of City Planning Commission meeting Wednesday came out in favor of the construction project, and a NY City Council vote is expected sometime in May.

On a Web site for the project, developer Two Trees Management says its plans for Dock Street include a new middle school, affordable housing, some retail locations and overall sustainable development.