Community Based Development
Bush's massive escalation of the Iraq war isn't the only escalation New Yorkers have to worry about. We are facing a massive escalation of the amount of money taxpayers are expected to subsidize to Pataki/Bloomberg buddy Ratner so he can build his dream project at Atlantic Yards.
It seems that the mayor's office has recently let slip that the amount of capital improvements the city is expected to pay for for Ratner's Atlantic Yards project is around twice what was promised almost exactly 2 years ago, and that there is no cap on the amount the city may have to pay out for Ratner.
In the 2/18/05 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) proposed $100 million in taxpayer money for capital improvements to make Ratner's plan possible. In the Bloomberg administration's newest capital budget, the mayor proposes $205 million for Atlantic Yards. I think you can do the math: with little fanfare (and even less press coverage) the mayor has just doubled the amount you and I have to pay for Ratner to build his project. Can we have an accountability moment here? Why the sudden increase?
When the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Dan Doctoroff was asked whether the was a cap on the amount taxpayers were expected to shell out for Ratner, the response was: read more »
The newest spat over Atlantic Yards features some of the usual suspects; on the one hand, there's Errol Louis, on the other, the Brooklyn Papers. This is Kabuki. If you, for example, should ever find yourself needing to know just what Louis' position is on a given issue, do this: imagine the most stereotypical black liberal you can, drawing heavily on all relevant clichÃ©s. Imagine what position this liberal phantom would take on the issue you're trying to divine; Louis will take exactly the inverse position to that. Try it; it's a parlor game of sorts in some circles, with an astonishing degree of accuracy.
At issue is this: as the Brooklyn Papers recounts, and Louis delivers the counter-screed to, Forest Ratner, the developer of Atlantic Yards, has managed to sell naming rights to the stadium proposed for the site to the British bank Barclay's. This house, which traces its roots to a Quaker establishment of 1690, has a troubled past with regard to the slave trade (as do many of the going concerns that still exist from that era) and more recently, was active in Apartheid-era South Africa. read more »
Joan Millman (my Assemblywoman) recently sent out her newsletter. Within it is a quote from her testimony on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Atlantic Yards project which I think is more important than ever:
Countless community groups, community planners, and constituents have all contacted me objecting to the overwhelming scale of [Ratner's] project. I agreed with them when I voiced my objections in a testimony almost one year ago, and I agree with them now: the project is simply too large. Nothing has been done on the part of the developer [Ratner] to reduce the project's scale by a meaningful amount in order to minimize the project's impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.
Until the developer substantially reduces the density and scale of this project and makes a commitment to protecting the affected social services and infrastructure, I cannot support the process moving forward.
I should note that Joan Millman has in the past largely supported the broad vision of Ratner's plan, including a stadium, but clearly the scale and the lack of response to the community's concerns and the nearly complete lack of consideration for the surrounding neighborhoods concern's Assemblywoman Millman just as much as it does me. read more »
Liza and myself actually walked by the Atlantic Yards site today at about 1 PM or so after an interview, and had a chance to enjoy the traffic jams that already choke Atlantic Avenue before the first spade has hit the ground. Now that the Public Authorities Control Board has greenlighted Atlantic Yards, that enjoyment can be more broadly shared by 30,000 more people who aren't just passing through, but actually live there.
So is this a done deal? Not quite, says Develop Don't Destroy, the local activist group that has been fighting to protect their homes in the face of near-unanimous opposition from the Powers on High. I spoke briefly with Daniel Goldstein about their mood and the next steps:
"Clearly, today shows that public pressure is ignored. Personally, I've had little faith that our most powerful leaders in this state would do the right thing. But in a way weâ€™re fortunate. All of the political maneuvering can be put behind us, and the plaintiffs and the community can go to a court and seek relief based on the law, instead of contending with fixed, inside deals. And when we win our case, the project will have to be scrapped for a plan that benefits the many, instead of the corporate few." read more »
From The New York Times comes this op-ed purporting to be news coverage of the Atlantic Yards dispute:
Sheldon Silver could always just say no.
That is the nightmare facing Forest City Ratner, the real estate developer whose $4 billion Atlantic Yards project must now be approved by an obscure state oversight board on which Mr. Silver, the state Assembly speaker, controls one of three votes.
Over three years, Forest City has assembled an astonishingly wide and deep political coalition behind the Brooklyn project, ranging from outgoing Gov. George E. Pataki to Acorn, the liberal advocacy group for low-income people. The developer has endured thousands of pages of studies and reviews, staged hundreds of meetings and hearings, beat back lawsuits and persisted in the face of a growing and energetic coalition of opponents and critics.
There's more, after the jump. read more »