Not only does Spitzer's statement reflect the concerns of numerous Brooklynites--not just opponents, but also members of community boards and civic groups--but it also has a practical implication. A delay makes it even less likely that, in a best-case scenario, departing Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, will preside over a groundbreaking.
Spitzer, who generally supports the project, sent a letter--[Update: note that it was on his campaign letterhead, not his official letterhead] today to Charles Gargano, chairman of the ESDC.
The letter was hailed by a coalition of local elected officials who represent constituents living close to the project. "It is imperative that enough time be allowed in the process for the public to review and respond to the DEIS," said Councilwoman Letitia James.
Assembly Members Joan Millman, Jim Brennan, and Roger Green also praised Spitzer and called for a delay. Millman and Brennan have been critical of the project, at least in terms of scale, while Green--whose district encompasses the project--supports the project.
Last week, the two leading contenders for Green's seat, Bill Batson and Hakeem Jeffries, called for more time.
Spitzer's letter said, in part:
While I strongly support development at the Atlantic Yards site, I believe it is vital that there be adequate opportunity for public review of this project. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), which was released on July 18, 2006, is approximately 1400 pages long and deserves the careful review that is essential for a project of this magnitude. In addition, the three community boards that represent the immediate neighborhood of the project are in recess until September. For these reasons, I believe it is appropriate that the public hearing associated with the DEIS, that is now scheduled for August 23, 2006, be postponed for at least 30 days, leaving a total of not less than 90 days for review.
Spitzer noted that "it is not uncommon for a longer period of time to be granted," citing the example of the Belleayre project in the Catskills, for which the community was given at least 140 days. Spitzer said that an extension of the public review "by at least 30 days is indispensable."
The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN) has suggested a 60-day extension. The three affected community boards--CBs 2,6 & 8--have also called for an extension, according to the CBN's Jim Vogel.