Brooklyn Law School student Meghan O’Malley ’11 was chosen to make a presentation at City Hall on November 22 as part of her participation in the New York City Department of Design and Construction’s (DDC) Town+Gown project. Town+Gown is an effort to engage students interested in local urban planning in research questions of importance to various city agencies involved in construction and development projects. It is the latest project exemplifying supportive public-private partnerships among entrepreneurs, city agencies and the academic community. The paper O’Malley described in the first annual Encore Presentation to city officials on November 22nd will also appear in the Town+Gown Research Review, a publication highlighting the students’ research and recommendations.
Brooklyn Law School students enrolled in Professor Debra Bechtel’s Transactional and Community Development Externship have worked on an array of research topics, conducting research, and have been involved in urban planning with local government agencies. Supervised by Terri Matthews, DDC’s policy analyst and the Director of Town+Gown, students participating in the Town+Gown program largely come from urban planning schools. Brooklyn Law School is the only law school involved in the program.
O’Malley spent one externship semester and one independent study semester analyzing the State and City Environmental Quality Review Acts and regulations to assess whether they may unduly impede affordable housing development and inappropriately favor low-density development. One of her most compelling points is that increases in density, which have historically been considered to be a negative environmental impact, should in some instances be encouraged as a way of reducing greenhouse gases.
Speaking about her work, O’Malley said, “I really enjoyed seeing my project with Town+Gown come to fruition at the Encore Presentation at City Hall,” and she noted how Professor Bechtel was supportive throughout the process. “I think it is very much to our credit that BLS is the only law school currently involved in the Town+Gown program along with the City’s top urban planning and public policy schools,” noted Professor Bechtel. “Our extensive externship program coupled with our joint degree in law and urban planning really makes us a great resource for government agencies seeking to involve students in real life research questions and policy challenges.” A number of other students in Professor Bechtel’s externship have been involved in Town+Gown research including Jennifer Effron ’10, Matthew Dudley ’11, Tim Kane ‘11, Steven Spada ’12, and Aaron Edelman ’12.
Town+Gown is a program coordinated through the New York City Department of Design and Construction that creates partnerships between the academic community and New York City construction agencies to identify practical data-based research projects. The results of these projects will be published in the Town + Gown Research Review, a publication with the goal of generating discussion that will lead to appropriate changes in practices and policies.