Friday, August 04, 2006

Council Speaker Quinn calls for ESDC to extend DEIS schedule

Like Eliot Spitzer (as gubernatorial candidate rather than Attorney General) last week, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has asked the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to extend the time for review of the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Citing the size and scope of the development, the fact that community boards are in recess, and the potential conflict with residents' summer vacation, Quinn asked that the public hearing scheduled for August 23 to be pushed back for 30 days.

"Additionally, as you may know, the City Council, along with the State Assembly, provided funds from the recently executed 2007 budget to support an independent analysis of the DEIS. An extension would allow both time for meaningful public input and for the study to be completed," she wrote.

ESDC & Marty respond

After Spitzer's comments, I asked for a response from the ESDC and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, for an article I was writing for the Downtown Brooklyn Star. Their answers weren't too encouraging to those who seek an extension.

Excerpts:
ESDC spokeswoman Jessica Copen, asked to comment on Spitzer's letter, said the agency "is committed to the public process and will be giving the public more opportunity to comment on this project than is usual. Besides scheduling a public hearing on August 23, we have also scheduled a community forum on September 12. We believe that the addition of this venue gives the public ample time to review and comment on the Atlantic Yards DEIS."
Critics have noted that the primary election will be held on September 12, as well, and could distract from attention to the community forum.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, a strong supporter of the Atlantic Yards plan, defended the ESDC's timetable: "Extending the public-comment period to 66 days - more than double the required 30 for a DEIS - and holding two open public sessions, including one in September, instead of the required one," he reasoned, "represents a fair attempt by ESDC to address the concerns of some in the community regarding a summer hearing."

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