Tuesday, October 24, 2006

FOIL follies I: City Planning's response a month overdue

This is the first of four articles on Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests.

On July 26, I filed FOIL requests for Atlantic Yards-related documents with three city agencies and the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC). The New York City Housing Development Corporation was the first to provide documents. The ESDC, after first ignoring my request, finally acknowledged it, then denied it, had it questioned, then reversed itself.

The Department of City Planning (DCP) has been dragging its feet. Though my request arrived the next day, and state law says that my request should've been acknowledged within five business days, the agency's response was issued on August 15, some 13 business days later.

The agency promised it would respond to my request within 30 business days. That would've been Sept. 27--four weeks ago. Earlier this month, I followed up with the department but received no response.

DCP involvement deserves scrutiny. After all, it was DCP that "recommended" an 8% reduction in the project's size last month--a cut that had already been floated in the press, and the developer quickly accepted. After all, it would return the project back to square one in terms of square footage.

"A lot of this was precooked," an executive who works with Developer Forest City Ratner told the Times. If so, wouldn't it be worth finding out more about the ingredients?

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