Friday, November 17, 2006

DDDB: after Final EIS, second lawsuit in the works

With the release Wednesday of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) regarding Atlantic Yards, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) is preparing to file a legal challenge to deficiencies in the FEIS, a second lawsuit—after a recent eminent domain case—regarding the project.

State law requires that the agency conducting the review, in this case the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), take a “hard look” at the environmental impacts. DDDB legal chair Candace Carponter said yesterday that the FEIS fails to adequately explore alternatives to the project or crucial issues like emergency response times for police and fire service.

“The part about the traffic is almost a joke,” she added, speaking at a community forum held at the Hanson Place United Methodist Church in Fort Greene. “We believe there are major flaws, because they worked so fast.” The FEIS took only about six weeks to produce.

The project is expected to be approved by the ESDC board later this month, then must proceed to the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB), where a unanimous vote is required by the three controlling members, departing Gov. George Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

Within 30 days, Carponter said, the lawsuit would be filed. She said that 30 attorneys and paralegals had volunteered to help DDDB’s retained counsel.

CBN criticism

Jim Vogel, secretary of the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN), said that the Final EIS “severely underestimates” issues like traffic and the effect on the power grid, and does not sufficiently analyze emergency services.

He criticized the lack of sufficient transit solutions. “Even with ‘No Build,’” he said, referring to the alternative in which no project is built over the Vanderbilt Yard, “we’d be in gridlock by 2013.” With Atlantic Yards, he said, it would be “bigger gridlock” sooner.

The Final EIS, he said, “serves neither the public nor the governor nor the developer” and spotlights the need for comprehensive regional planning.

CBN has begun Project Report Card, asking those who submitted comments to the ESDC to grade the response.

Seeking delay

DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein urged the 125 or so attendees to get local elected officials to pressure Silver to delay the vote “until the eminent domain suit is resolved.” Otherwise, he said, developer Forest City Ratner could begin demolitions, “and we’re left with a mess when we win our case.”

Though he has not criticized the project, Silver is likely the most receptive to a delay, so as to allow Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer, a fellow Democrat, an opportunity to evaluate a project that would be built on his watch.

Speaking of politicians, Carponter said, “There are a lot more that are starting to weigh in and say, ‘Wait a second.’”

Elected officials

Two elected officials rallied the troops. State Senator Velmanette Montgomery said that local representatives will try to delay a decision on the project, “at least until a new governor comes in.”

City Council Member Letitia James declared, “This is not the beginning of the end. This is the end to the beginning of a project that would destroy our community.” She urged attendees to “reject the campaign of deception, of distraction, of distortion, and of divisiveness.”

Local Assemblymembers Joan Millman and Jim Brennan were invited but didn’t attend. Incoming 57th District Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries sent a representative. More than James or Montgomery, the three might have some sway with Silver.

The two 57th Assembly District leaders, Olanike Alabi and Bill Saunders, also vowed their opposition to the project.

2 comments:

  1. Every one of the criticisms raised by the retard-crowd will be addressed by the agencies affected by the existence of AY when those issues become realities.

    The fire department will assess the situation when there's a situation to assess. Power requirements will get the attention they deserve when demands on the grid start to appear. Traffic problems will be studied when it matters.

    The traffic flow around the World Trade Center was greatly altered by the construction of those buildings. Is anyone crying for a return to the old Lower Manhattan? No.

    In fact, Lower Manhattan is become a magnet for many. The population way downtown is soaring as old office space is converted into residential space and new residential buildings spring up. The downtown residential crowd is expected to hit about 70,000 in the next several years.

    Brooklyn is looking at a similar boom. And it will enjoy a similar boom if the irregular army of backward-thinking Brooklynites stays out of the process and watches the magic of free-market economics at work.

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  2. no_slappz is ignorant of a number of facts in his/her commentary. Suggesting the Fire Department (Police Department) and Traffic will be studied when the damage has been done fails to recognize the reason why Environmental Impact Studies are carried out.

    Further, the traffic flow around the World Trade Center and a return to the original street grid has been widely debated and supported by urban planners. I don't think any of the planners shed a tear as they recommended the old street grid as ideal for vehicular and non-vehicular traffic alike.

    Even as residential space is soaring in downtown Manhattan while we watch business stream out of town, there is an expectation that new office space is being built - that's not in the cards in this mega-project.

    If only we could utilize the "magic of the free-market", with all of its shortcomings, here the State has stepped in and eliminated competition supposedly in the interest of the public. Yet the overwhelming majority of residents in the adjacent neighborhoods have opposed this wildly out of context development. In a free market system, the zoning would be reconsidered first so as to allow for this type of development. Then those interested in developing would follow the rules. Further, the MTA's RFP would have found no appropriate bids as their own appraisers found the land value of the Vanderbilt Yards worth significantly more than either FCRC or the higher rejected bid.

    Why must developers continue to lie both under their own names or under psuedonyms like no-slappz?

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