THE BLOG
06/20/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Saving the Brooklyn Bridge

This is Ana Ortiz, from Ugly Betty. I'm writing to bring everyone's attention to a troubling situation that's brewing in a neighborhood that I and many other people care about deeply, my own neighborhood of DUMBO, Brooklyn. What's happening here, literally THIS week, could change the New York City skyline forever.

Believe it or not, the Brooklyn Bridge, as we know and love it, is in danger of being completely overshadowed by a monstrous commercial development.

When you watch a TV show or film in which New York is featured, there's almost inevitably an image of the Brooklyn Bridge. Why? Because it's a dramatic landmark, an emotional representation of the history and spirit of New York. Any shot of the Bridge is an image that anchors you, one that tells you you're not anywhere else in the US or in the world, but in New York. It is as effective an image of the New York state of mind and soul as the Empire State Building or our ubiquitous yellow cabs.

Two Trees Development wants to plunk a 17-story building literally 92 feet from the edge of the bridge, and the powers that be in NYC planning are extremely close to approving their plan! How is it possible that it would be OK to desecrate the iconic, distinctive Brooklyn Bridge with a monstrosity would rise as high as the towers of the mighty span itself? You know how you see photos of NYC with the Twin Towers and you know the landscape has changed? That's what this will be like, purely from an aesthetic standpoint of course, that sweeping vista of the Brooklyn Bridge will no longer exist. That visual representation of New York could end up as an image from the past, sacrificed just for profit.

I am a native New Yorker. I was born and raised in this magical city. Little by little, we watch as what is wonderful and unique about the city is paved over and homogenized. This is my neighborhood. Does that developer own the bridge? No. He owns a tiny plot of land next to it. He says the present zoning doesn't make it worthwhile for him to develop, so he wants a 'variance' so that he can make the development 'profitable'. He knew the zoning rules when he bought the land! I'm sorry, so we here in Brooklyn, we here in New York City, we here in New York State, we here in the United Sates of America, and those thousands of visitors around the world who come and walk that bridge literally everyday should lose that experience so that this guy can make a profit? I don't think so!

This is a family that has made hundreds of millions off of development in the neighborhood, and has mostly done good work. But this is not their bridge, this is a global symbol of New York, and it belongs to people, people from all over the world.

Dozens of important historians, preservations and New York notables, including Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Municipal Art Society and fellow thespian Gabriel Byrne, have also vigorously voiced opposition to this proposed venture and will continue to do so.

The members of the NYC City Council need to be reminded that their job is to serve in the greater interest of the public...not just New Yorkers but all the many millions of travelers from around the world who visit to witness our iconic city in the flesh.

But, it's still not too late to stop this. We have an opportunity to preserve something beautiful, and to honor a national treasure. Believe me, if the fight fails and this building goes up, everyone will wonder how was this allowed to happen? By then, it will be too late, and it will set a precedent, and it will be a blemish on all citizens of New York and the US as we lacked the foresight to protect something we treasured.

This project is going before the New York City Council this week for a vote. Here's what you can do to help save a national Landmark, whether you live in New York or not:

Please email New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn cquinn@council.nyc.gov or call Mayor Bloomberg at 311. Tell them to do the right thing.

To stay informed on this situation, go to dumbo-dna.org. And thanks for taking the time to fight to protect a National treasure. Let's not be apathetic when we can make a difference and preserve a glorious landmark for the future of New York.